Thomas Sowell on The conferderate flag in SC

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From: John Boyer (
Date: Sun Jan 23 2000 - 17:01:27 PST

Thomas Sowell's latest column, in which he takes up the issue of the
confederate flag. Once again he shows that he is one of America's most
valuable intellectual assets. Well, that's my opinion anyway.
Here is the best quote...
"Over the past hundred years or so, black leadership in
general has gone from the likes of Frederick Douglass to the likes of Al
Sharpton -- and that has not been up."
LAWRENCE OTIS GRAHAM is the author of
a book about the black elite titled, "Our Kind of
People." He is also one of them. However, at
his formal wedding reception with 260 guests,
he and his bride jumped over a broom.

This was an old custom from the days of the
slave plantations, when of course there was no
legal marriage for blacks. This action signified to
all on the plantation that the couple were to be
considered married.

Why such a ceremony on Manhattan's posh
upper east side today? Because it "paid homage
to our slave ancestors," Graham said. If that's
what he wanted to do, so be it. But no one in
his right mind would think that this was some
sort of endorsement of slavery.

We also have to recognize that white people in
the South had ancestors as well. Some of them
want to pay them homage -- and they do it with
the Confederate flag, which is as much a part of
the long gone past as jumping over a broom.

Personally, as a black man, I am not thrilled at
the sight of a Confederate flag. On the other
hand, I am not thrilled at the sight of
professional wrestling or Alan Alda, but I don't
demand that they be banned.

Any association of human beings -- from a
marriage to a nation -- involves putting up with
things we would rather not be bothered with.
Only children insist that everything must be done
their way.

If the current campaign to get the Confederate
flag off the state capitol in South Carolina were
just an isolated controversy, it might not mean

But it is part of a much bigger trend of
constantly scavenging for grievances.

There was a time when very real and very big
grievances hit black people from all sides. You
didn't have to look for them. You didn't have to
do historical research or put people's statements
under a microscope to see what they "really"

Ask yourself: Who do you know personally
who has benefited from having a chip on his
shoulder? Chances are you are more likely to
know someone who has messed himself up, in
any number of ways, by going around with a chip on his shoulder.

Unfortunately, it has become very fashionable, and even lucrative, to
encourage various groups to feel victimized and to go scavenging through
history for grievances. Nothing is easier to find than sin among human
beings, past and present, black and white and all
the other colors of the rainbow.

If you want to spend your time and energy on
this kind of project, just be aware that there are
all sorts of other things on which you could be
spending that time and energy. Admittedly, if you
are a politician or a leader of some movement,
this may be where your biggest payoff will come.

But it is not where the biggest payoff will come
for those who listen to you.

In a global economy, where the Internet is truly a worldwide web, you
can engage in transactions with people on every continent who neither
know nor care what you look like, much less who your ancestors were.
In this environment, to burden the younger generation of blacks or other
minorities with the grievance mentality is to sell their birthright for a mess
of pottage -- or for money and power for race hustlers.

There was a time when the civil rights organizations had a very important
role to play and when they had leaders of a much higher caliber than
those seen today. Over the past hundred years or so, black leadership in
general has gone from the likes of Frederick Douglass to the likes of Al
Sharpton -- and that has not been up.

In a sense, this too is a consequence of the rise of blacks and of the
country in general. At a time when blacks were being lynched at a rate of
two or three per week, there was a literally life and death need for the
best people in the black community to do whatever they could to turn the

If blacks were still being lynched today, no doubt many a black Wall
Street lawyer or black Silicon Valley entrepreneur would be in the civil
rights movement instead, bending his efforts toward saving lives instead
of making money. But that has long since ceased to be the situation, so
racial "leadership" now falls to the second-raters and the demagogues.

If the current civil rights establishment has any worthwhile role left to
play, it will probably be by making more and more Americans sick of
hearing about race, and therefore more and more inclined to judge each
person as an individual.

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