Thomas Sowell

Sometimes unrelated events nevertheless tell a coherent story.

One newspaper story that caught my eye recently was about two high-powered schools in South Korea where Korean girls study 15 hours a day, preparing themselves for tests to get into elite colleges in the United States. Harvard, Yale and Princeton already have 34 students from those schools.

When a copy of the 50th anniversary report on members of the Harvard class of 1958 arrived in the mail recently, I thought back to one of my fellow students in that class who had worn a hole in the sole of his shoe but put a folded piece of newspaper in his shoe to cover the hole, rather than tell his parents.

He realized that they would buy him a new pair of shoes if they knew-- and he also realized that they could not afford it.

He went on to become a professor at several well-known medical schools and to have various achievements and honors over the years.

From even further back in time, I received a letter recently from a man who grew up in my old neighborhood back in Harlem. When he and I were in the same junior high school, one day a teacher who saw him eating his brown bag lunch suddenly arranged for him to get a lunch from the school cafeteria without having to pay for it.

It happened so fast that my schoolmate had already taken a bite from the school lunch when he suddenly realized that he had been given charity-- and he wouldn't swallow the food. Instead he went to the toilet and spat it out.

By now his brown bag lunch had been thrown out, so he just went hungry that day. He went on to become a very successful psychiatrist.

Like everyone else, I have also been hearing a lot lately about Jeremiah Wright, former pastor of the church that Barack Obama has belonged to for 20 years.

Both men, in their different ways, have for decades been promoting the far left vision of victimization and grievances-- Wright from his pulpit and Obama in roles ranging from community organizer to the United States Senate, where he has had the farthest left voting record.

Later, when the ultimate political prize-- the White House-- loomed on the horizon, Obama did a complete makeover, now portraying himself as a healer of divisions.

The difference between Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright is that they are addressing different audiences, using different styles adapted to those audiences.

It is a difference between upscale demagoguery and ghetto demagoguery, playing the audience for suckers in both cases.


Thomas Sowell

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

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