Real intellectual courage

Every now and then when I read an editorial by Thomas Sowell or Walter E. Williams, or hear Clarence Thomas's name on a Supreme Court vote, or read about Ward Connerly and his anti-affirmative action referendums, I think about the lonely lives these guys must lead.

It takes a lot of courage to speak honestly if you're a conservative black, because  you will inevitably be scorned by other blacks, and called an "Uncle Tom."

The NY Post runs editorials by Thomas Sowell occasionally, and these have a consistently conservative bent. One attack on him by Patricia Roberts Harris, an official in the Carter administration, was typical. According to Wkipedia:

[Harris] once said that Sowell and Walter E. Williams "don't know what poverty is." Sowell called her position "a pathetic sign of intellectual bankruptcy," saying that he "was almost 9 years old before [he] lived in a home with [hot] running water" and that she "was a campus social leader in an 'exclusive sorority' - meaning that it was for middle-class (light-skinned) women" while he worked full-time and went to [the same college] at night."

(Williams grew up in a housing project.)

Clarence Thomas is widely derided in the black community for his conservative views. His most famous critic was Anita Hill, who had worked for Thomas at the Department of Education and later at the EEOC, who accused him during his confirmation hearings of asking if someone had put a pubic hair on his Coca Cola can and talking about porn to her. We'll never know for sure who was telling the truth in that he said-she said controversy; what we do know is that after their professional association ended, Hill later talked with Thomas on the phone, met with him, and even dined with him.

Ward Connerly led anti-affirmative action referendums in several states (all successful, although several were partially overridden by the courts). In 1995, then California State Senator Diane Watson said about him, "He's married to a white woman. He wants to be white. He wants a colorless society. He has no ethnic pride. He doesn't want to be black."

If you're black, and advocate what's best for the country as a whole rather than just what's best for blacks, you're looked upon as a traitor. You will be ostracized by the black community, made an outcast from your own tribe.

And then, you can't really take comfort hanging out with white people. Whites may befriend you, but most of them will still be strangely awkward around you, especially the liberal whites.

Most people can't take this, so they stay on the reservation. After all, who wants to be thought of as Benedict Arnold -- even if he's right?

Not that many people have the courage of their convictions. The fellows I've just mentioned do. I salute them.