Hope for a Future Sign of the Times

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

A couple of months ago, Thomas Sowell reviewed Jason Riley's Please Stop Helping Us, calling the book "a primer on race". The book is a blistering critique of failed attempts at "helping" black Americans through central planning. One of the book's many strengths, according to Sowell's review, is that it makes available to laymen lots of new information on the subject:

When it comes to affirmative action, Jason Riley asks the key question: "Do racial preferences work? What is the track record?" Like many other well-meaning and nice-sounding policies, affirmative action cannot survive factual scrutiny.

Some individuals may get jobs they would not get otherwise but many black students who are quite capable of getting a good college education are admitted, under racial quotas, to institutions whose pace alone is enough to make it unlikely that they will graduate.

Studies that show how many artificial failures are created by affirmative action admissions policies are summarized in Please Stop Helping Us, in language much easier to understand than in the original studies.

There are many ponderous academic studies of blacks, if you have a few months in which to read them, but there is nothing to match Jason Riley's book as a primer that will quickly bring you up to speed on the complicated subject of race in a week, or perhaps over a weekend. [minor format edits]
It is interesting that this review came out almost exactly a month before the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the demonstrations that followed. For one thing, it has quickly become apparent that the event and the many real problems associated with it have been co-opted by leftists and political opportunists interested in providing more of the same "help" that has so long dug a miserable, hard-to-escape pit for so many. For another, it is much easier for too many to become distracted and preoccupied by the spectacle of such demonstrations and join in the angry demands -- than it is to gather and evaluate truly relevant facts in order to consider what ought to be done, politically, about such problems. This book can at least make the more difficult (and promising) path much more tractable.

Perhaps my belated notice of this review, in light of such obscene and exploitative pandering, will in some way help this book gain more of the publicity it clearly deserves. Sowell opened his review with the following historical vignette:
Back in the heyday of the British Empire, a man from one of the colonies addressed a London audience.

"Please do not do any more good in my country," he said. "We have suffered too much already from all the good that you have done."
We will know we are winning when the title of this book starts showing up on signs at demonstrations like some of the more peaceful ones in Ferguson.

-- CAV

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