October 18, 2005
Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene

By Thomas Sowell

Neither the depth of despondency nor the height of euphoria tells you how long either will last.

We are so easily deceived that many people think that the Senate Judiciary Committee is acting nicely if the Senators wear a genial expression while asking insulting questions or smile while they are lying about the nominee.

Virtually no idea is too ridiculous to be accepted, even by very intelligent and highly educated people, if it provides a way for them to feel special and important. Some confuse that feeling with idealism.

I usually read the Wall Street Journal before breakfast. I can't take the New York Times on an empty stomach.

Homeschooling is not new. John Stuart Mill was homeschooled two centuries ago and never spent a day in a school or college.

People who think that they don't owe anything to anybody should read David McCullough's outstanding new book "1776," to see what hell other people went through to create the freedom that we enjoy and abuse today.

Senator Dianne Feinstein asked Judge John Roberts whether his being Catholic would interfere with carrying out his duties on the Supreme Court but she would undoubtedly have felt insulted if anyone had asked her whether being Jewish would interfere with her carrying out her duties as a Senator.

One of the reasons for the poverty in the United States that is seldom mentioned by the left is that many poor people are coming here, both legally and illegally, from other countries.

I don't know anything about Judge Consuelo Callahan but I love the name. Possibly she could be related to the economist Pedro Schwartz.

The Middle East "peace process" is an illusion. No one can make peace with others who is not at peace with himself -- and the Arabs cannot be at peace with themselves so long as they lag so visibly far behind the rest of the world. No concessions from others can give them what would satisfy them, their own achievements and self-respect.

Economist Steven Levitt's best-selling book "Freakonomics" is not really about economics. It is about applying systematic reasoning to all sorts of social problems. Systematic reasoning is needed even more than economics.

The controversies surrounding Bill Cosby should force more black leaders to decide whether their top priority is protecting the image of blacks or promoting the future of blacks, especially the younger generation.

If a word means everything, then it means nothing. Stretching words like "marriage" and "family" to include all sorts of things that they never meant before is reducing these words -- and the institutions they represent -- to nothing.

Any given writer might write in a vague, lofty, convoluted, and romantic style. But when all the people who write on a given subject write that same way, there is something else going on. Try to think of any defender of progressive education or judicial activism who writes in a plain, straightforward and factual style.

Some of the most vocal critics of the way things are being done are people who have done nothing themselves, and whose only contributions to society are their complaints and moral exhibitionism.

My brother recalled his younger days down South during the Jim Crow era, when he had a job working late. After work, he had a long walk back home in the middle of the night. But, he says, "When I got to the black neighborhood, I felt safe!" That speaks volumes about what has happened since then.

Two recent books tell about a million Europeans who were once enslaved by North African pirates. But these books ("Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters" by R.C. Davis and "White Gold" by Giles Milton) are largely ignored by people who claim to be outraged about slavery in the past.

Much as I enjoy most e-mails from most readers, even though I cannot answer so many, it is a waste to send me attachments. In this era of devastating viruses, I open attachments only from people I know personally.

Copyright 2005 Creators Syndicate

Thomas Sowell

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