On Soft Determinism & Ambivalent AppeasementnThomas Sowell: Ethnic America: AnHistory; Basic Books; New York.nAnne Wortham: The Other Side ofnRacism: A Philosophical Study ofnBlack Race Consciousness; OhionState University Press; Columbus,nOhio.nby John C. CaiazzanIn the political and ideological climatenwhich currently surrounds the issuenof ethnicity in America, this booknis a bombshell. The issues of race, discriminationnand welfare have become sonhighly charged politically and emotionally,nwith so much at stake in benefitsnfrom the government and, no less importantly,nin prestige and self-respect,nthat Sowell’s attempt merely to tell thentruth has had an explosive effect. Thenreason is not hard to find.n”Ethnic America,” as Sowell callsnit, has been an experiment in whichnmen and women of every race and continentnhave tried to live together asnAmericans while retaining certain portionsnof their pre-American heritage.nDespite persecutions, slavery, race riots,nJim Crow laws, ethnic and religiousndiscrimination and outright warfarenagainst the Indian tribes, America isnthe most successful multiethnic nationnin the world. Sowell writes: “The peoplingnof America is one of the greatndramas in all of human history.” Indeed,none notices that foreign criticismnof America’s racial problems tends toncease in those nations which have acquiredna race problem of their own, asnin England, India or Uganda.nTolerance of other peoples, theirnmores, attitudes and lifestyles, is, innfact, more pronounced in the UnitednStates than in most other nations, andnDr. Caiazza is currently working on anbook tentatively entitled K ConservativenSocial Philosophy.nfor good reason, for mutual forbearancenis a necessity if we are to live togethernpeaceably and to prosper as annation. However, the mutual respectnwhich America fosters among its diversenethnic groups can be extended toonfar, namely when academicians, politiciansnand government officials refusento recognize that any unique characteristicndistinguishes groups from one another,nespecially if it is at all negative.nWhile it is frequently necessary tonoverlook such differences, to make allowancesnfor them or to look at them in anbenign light, denying such characteristicsnlends an air of hypocrisy to thenacts and statements of public officials.nFurthermore, it leads to the assumptionnthat since there are no substantive differencesnamong us as groups, then thenonly reason for differences in economicnsuccess or social status is discrimination,nbe it intentional or “structural.”nThis encourages an inquisitorial attitudenamong public officials, who trynto ferret out injustices where none visiblynexist, and who seek to equalize thenconditions of groups which are not equaln—in educational attainment or acculturation—tonthe demands of urban living.nFinally, it leads to the establishment ofna doctrine of official “truth”: thatnAmerican society is inherently unjustnand the American people inherentlynracist. It is this perverted “truth” whichnSowell has dramatically exposed andnthat exposure has caused a fierce reactionnagainst him and his book.nIronically, Sowell’s style is so lowkey,nwith none of Moynihan’s dash onnthe same (or any other) topic, that somenof the controversial points in the studynmay be lost. Therefore, some of themnare worth listing, even though Sowellnhas argued for many of them in suchnother of his works as Race and Economics.n(1) Ethnicity and race are legitimatencategories by which to attemptnto understand social behavior; (2) ethnicngroups have progressed in Americannnin a constant and roughly comparablenmanner; (3) education is a result, not ancause, of ethnic economic progress;n(4) I.Q. level is culturally determined,ni.e. an ethnic group’s average I.Q. tendsnto test higher over time like other indicesnof socioeconomic acculturation;n(5) politics is not the best avenue of advancenfor ethnic groups, since thosenwhich have chosen this route have progressednmore slowly than those whichnhave neglected it; (6) welfare benefitsnhave impeded rather than aided thenprogress of those groups at the bottomnof the ladder; (7) culture—not wealth,neducation or genetic inheritance—isnthe key influence on an ethnic group’snsuccess in America; (8) all ethnic groupsnhave been subject to discrimination butnhave overcome it; and (9) blacks andnHispanics need no special attention innorder to progress as other ethnic groupsnhave. All of these points contravene onenaccepted opinion or another and, takenntogether, indicate that a policy of “benignnneglect” would be the best policynfor our judges, bureaucrats and politiciansnto follow in matters of ethnicitynand race.nA. book of this sort raises so manynissues that one cannot possibly commentnon all of Sowell’s points. However, onenthing worthy of further comment, andnone which is likely to get lost in all thenfireworks that this book has already setnoff, is that it is undergirded by certainncritical scientific assumptions. Sowell’snbook, while subtitled “A History,” isnalso a sociological analysis, which meansnthat the first premise of his study is anform of cultural determinism. That is,nin common with most social scientists,nSowell finds it necessary to use a causenand-ef feet relationship to explain humannbehavior. Because he is a sociologist andnnot, for example, a Freudian psychologist,nhis concept of determinism is onenin which human behavior is influencedn(though not controlled, it is importantn9nMarch/AprU198Sn