Thomas Sowell

During the same week when Bob Costas was criticizing the name "Washington Redskins," the New York Daily News reported an incident in which a gang of young blacks attacked a white couple in a car, beating the man severely and dragging the woman out of the car by her hair down to the pavement, and beating her as well -- all the while shouting racist obscenities.

Episodes like this have occurred repeatedly, in dozens of cities, all across the country. The only thing that was missing in this particular episode were public assurances from police authorities and the mayor that race had nothing to do with what happened. Such dishonest assurances have been common in the wake of such plainly racist attacks. Officials in various cities are obviously trying to keep the lid on this incipient race war.

But you cannot keep the lid on forever. In 1961, James B. Conant's book "Slums and Suburbs" warned that "social dynamite" was accumulating in American cities. Just a few years later, ghetto riots erupted all across the country.

Social dynamite can accumulate among whites as well as among blacks. White extremist hate groups already exist, though they are a fringe, as the Nazis were once a disdained fringe in Germany. It was the people's loss of confidence in the respectable institutions of society that gave the Nazis their chance for power.

The blind and dishonest political correctness of our media and educational institutions on racial issues today can eventually forfeit the confidence of Americans and give similar extremist groups their chance to ignite a race war in the United States. And once a race war starts, it can be virtually impossible to stop.


Thomas Sowell

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

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