Thomas Sowell

It is one of the sad signs of our times that a furor was created because Rush Limbaugh expressed an opinion as to why a particular quarterback seemed to him to be over-rated. In his view, it was because the powers that be in professional football were anxious to have a star quarterback who was black.

If this was a criticism of anybody, it was a criticism of the powers that be in the National Football League. Nevertheless, people have gone ballistic, just as if he had criticized blacks as a race. But you have to twist the truth like a pretzel to reach that conclusion.

Rush's resignation from ESPN may stop the dogs from barking at his heels and all this may soon be forgotten -- but it shouldn't be. Hyper-censorship about anything in any way involving race is a danger to this whole society, on matters far more weighty than football.

When the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan first warned of the social dangers in the decline of black families back in the 1960s, and called for government policies to help deal with these dangers, he was attacked viciously for saying something that everyone now recognizes as true because the problem has grown even worse than it was when he issued his warning.

The denunciation and demonization of Pat Moynihan marked a major turning point in public discussions of racial issues. From then on, the test of what you said was no longer whether it was true but whether it was politically correct. This silenced the faint hearted -- which is to say, most of academia and virtually all of the media.

Today, if you want to read an honest assessment of the black colleges, you have to go back to a 1967 article by Christopher Jencks and the late David Riesman in the Harvard Educational Review. If you want to read an honest assessment of the black middle class you have to go back to a 1962 book, "Black Bourgeoisie" by E. Franklin Frazier, one of the leading black scholars of the 20th century.

So enshrined has racial censorship become that it can literally become a federal case if you want to give IQ tests to black children. Professor Nathan Glazer of Harvard has suggested that research on race and IQ should stop.

A long time ago, it was said that the truth will set you free. But today the idea seems to be that only the right spin will set you free. And the right spin of course means the left spin.

Facts can be ignored but their consequences cannot be escaped. If the facts don't matter, this means that the people who are going to have to pay those consequences don't matter.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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