Politics

Sowell Says American Blacks, Underclass White Brits Have Same Problems

On 'The Laura Ingraham Show,' the Hoover Institution economist discussed his new book on the causes of disparities in society

Thomas Sowell, a legendary conservative scholar and author, riffed Tuesday on education, the culture, and crime during an interview on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”

At 87, Sowell (pictured above) is a little more than a year past retirement from his long-running syndicated column. But he is still active, publishing a new book, “Discrimination and Disparities,” in which he explores how disparities arise in society.

Sowell, long one of the nation’s most prominent black conservative intellectuals, told host Laura Ingraham that many of the same issues that plague African-Americans affect lower-class whites in other countries.

“What’s also painful to discover through research is that the very same patterns are going on in Britain, where the underclass is predominantly white,” he said. “And everything, right down to the minor details — you know that in Britain, there are lower-class white neighborhoods where kids in schools who are trying to learn get beaten up for that because this is considered to be class treachery.”

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Sowell said education represents the best hope many children have to escape the underclass. But he said it is much harder when administrators insist on implementing the “no child left behind” mentality advocated by former President George W. Bush.

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“Some children have to be left behind if the other children are to have a decent chance to get educated,” he said.

Sowell advocated a philosophy that resembles the educational equivalent of triage.

“It takes only a handful of rowdy, disruptive and violent students in the classroom to prevent the entire class from getting a decent education.”

“It takes only a handful of rowdy, disruptive and violent students in the classroom to prevent the entire class from getting a decent education,” he said.

Sowell said political correctness has overrun the culture, pointing to the widespread criticism that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has received for reportedly commenting that diversity is not important in hiring at the agency.

“You have people thinking that decisions should be made on the basis of demographics rather than productivity,” Sowell said.

Sowell also criticized the hyper-focus on the tiny number of black residents who have been wrongly killed by police. The result, he said, is rising crime that hurts minorities.

Related: Thomas Sowell Retires: Nine of His Greatest Hits

“And the people who pay the ultimate price for that are primarily members of low-income minority communities,” he said. “When the police pull back, then the criminals have freer range. After all these highly televised marches and outrage expressions, the cops cut back on their policing. And you see the crime rate, especially the murder rate, go up.”

That is exactly what happened after violent protests in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, following the controversial deaths of black men in recent years, Sowell said.

Ingraham asked what the solution is for what ails the culture.

“For one thing, the voters need to be aware of what is happening and not listen to the sort of glib, feel-good rhetoric that we hear so much,” he said.

PoliZette senior writer Brendan Kirby can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

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