Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Sowell on Diversity

Thomas Sowell, the Stanford economist who's written extensively on Affirmative Action, is seldom cited in the average diversity training program. This may be because Sowell is not afraid to challenge the implicit assumptions that should be addressed in such sessions. One excerpt from a Sowell speech:

“Every culture discards over time the things which no longer do the job or which don't do the job as well as things borrowed from other cultures. Each individual does this, consciously or not, on a day-to-day basis. Languages take words from other languages, so that Spanish as spoken in Spain includes words taken from Arabic, and Spanish as spoken in Argentina has Italian words taken from the large Italian immigrant population there. People eat Kentucky Fried Chicken in Singapore and stay in Hilton Hotels in Cairo.

“This is not what some of the advocates of ‘diversity’ have in mind. They seem to want to preserve cultures in their purity, almost like butterflies preserved in amber. Decisions about change, if any, seem to be regarded as collective decisions, political decisions. But that is not how any cultures have arrived where they are. Individuals have decided for themselves how much of the old they wished to retain, how much of the new they found useful in their own lives. In this way, cultures have enriched each other in all the great civilizations of the world. In this way, great port cities and other crossroads of cultures have become centers of progress all across the planet. No culture has grown great in isolation-- but a number of cultures have made historic and even astonishing advances when their isolation was ended, usually by events beyond their control.”

Read the whole thing here.

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