Thomas Sowell and Our Ridiculous Culture

Thomas Sowell noted:

The real war — which is being waged in our schools, in the media, and among the intelligentsia — is the war on achievement. When President Obama told business owners, “You didn’t build that!” this was just one passing skirmish in the war on achievement.

The very word “achievement” has been replaced by the word “privilege” in many writings of our times. Individuals or groups that have achieved more than others are called “privileged” individuals or groups, who are to be resented rather than emulated.

The length to which this kind of thinking — or lack of thinking — can be carried was shown in a report on various ethnic groups in Toronto. It said that people of Japanese ancestry in that city were the most “privileged” group there, because they had the highest average income.

What made this claim of “privilege” grotesque was a history of anti-Japanese discrimination in Canada, climaxed by people of Japanese ancestry being interned during World War II longer than Japanese Americans.

If the concept of achievement threatens the prevailing ideology, then real achievement in the face of obstacles is a deadly threat. That is why the achievements of Asians in general — and of people like the young black man with no arms — make those on the left uneasy. And why the achievements of people who created their own businesses have to be undermined by the President of the United States.

Note the apparent anger and frustration that seeps from the text. I read in Sowell a disdain for a culture whose humanist impulse is so eclipsed by political agendas that instead of demanding from people the excellence of which they are capable and that they owe their world, we coddle them. True humanism is to see human nature and behavior as it is and demand better. The apparent care for humanity displayed by our culture that says, “Any problem in your life is somebody else’s fault/problem” is a distortion of the Biblical notion that each person is responsible for self-care and the love of neighbor. We are indebted, Paul says, “to love one another” not entitled to have our problems fixed. I’ve read several books, I have no reason to think that he’s a Christian, but he’s certainly a humanist.


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