Last Updated:November 28 @ 07:44 am

Sowell: Are Race Riots News?

By Thomas Sowell

When I first saw a book with the title, "White Girl Bleed A Lot" by Colin Flaherty, I instantly knew what it was about, even though I had not seen the book reviewed anywhere, and knew nothing about the author.

That is because I had encountered that phrase before, while doing research for the four new chapters on intellectuals and race that I added to the revised edition of my own book, "Intellectuals and Society," published this year.

That phrase was spoken by a member of a mob of young blacks who attacked whites at random at a Fourth of July celebration in Milwaukee last year. What I was appalled to learn, in the course of my research, was that such race riots have occurred in other cities across the United States in recent years -- and that the national mainstream media usually ignore these riots.

Where the violence is too widespread and too widely known locally to be ignored, both the local media and public officials often describe what happened as unspecified "young people" attacking unspecified victims for unspecified reasons. But videos of the attacks often reveal both the racial nature of these attacks and the racial hostility expressed by the attackers.

Are race riots not news?

Ignoring racial violence only guarantees that it will get worse. The Chicago Tribune has publicly rationalized its filtering out of any racial identification of attackers and their victims, even though the media do not hesitate to mention race when decrying statistical disparities in arrest or imprisonment rates.

Such mob attacks have become so frequent in Chicago that officials promoting conventions there have recently complained to the mayor that the city is going to lose business if such widespread violence is not brought under control.

But neither these officials nor the mayor nor most of the media use that four-letter word, "race." It would not be politically correct or politically convenient in an election year.

Reading Colin Flaherty's book made painfully clear to me that the magnitude of this problem is even greater than I had discovered from my own research. He documents both the race riots and the media and political evasions in dozens of cities across America.

Flaherty's previous writings have won him praise and awards, but this book has been met largely with silence or abuse. However much ignoring the ugly realities that his book reveals may serve the interests of the media or politicians, a cover-up is a huge disservice to everyone else -- whether black, white or whatever.

Even the young hoodlums who launch these mass attacks on strangers would be better off to be stopped now, rather than continue on a path of escalating violence that can lead to a lifetime behind bars or to the execution chamber.

The dangers to the nation as a whole are an even bigger problem. The truth has a way of eventually coming out, in spite of media silence and politicians' spin. If the truth becomes widely known, and a white backlash follows, turning one-way race riots into two-way race riots, then a cycle of revenge and counter-revenge can spiral out of control, as has already happened in too many other countries around the world.

Most blacks and most whites in the United States today get along with each other. But what is chilling is how often in history racial or ethnic groups that co-existed peacefully for generations -- often as neighbors -- have suddenly turned on each other with lethal violence.

In the middle of the 20th century, Sri Lanka had a level of mutual respect and even friendship between its majority and minority communities that was rightly held up to the world as a model. Yet this situation degenerated over the years into polarization and violence that escalated into a civil war that lasted for decades, with unspeakable atrocities on both sides.

All it took were clever demagogues and gullible followers. We already have both. What it will take to nip in the bud the small but widely spreading race riots will be some serious leadership in many quarters and that rarest of all things in politics, honesty.

Race hustlers and mob inciters like Al Sharpton represent such polarizing forces in America today. Yet Sharpton has become a White House adviser, and Attorney General Eric Holder has been photographed literally embracing him.


Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is


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  1. PATRIOTComment by PATRIOT
    July 17, 2012 @ 8:50 am

    A very revealing article. Remember the Black Panther situation at Phiadelphia where blacks intimidated white voters and nothing was done about it? This violence is escalating because the Obama administration is quitely supporting it. Race relations has and continues to suffer under this President.

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  2. OldpatriotComment by Oldpatriot
    July 17, 2012 @ 11:28 am

    When the Dems meet in Charlotte, NC in a few weeks it will be very interesting to see how the MSM covers any race based confrontations that occur. Remember 1968 in Chicago and that is a Dem based city.

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  3. KathleenComment by Kathleen
    July 17, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

    This I have noticed for awhile, and I thank you, Mr. Sowell, for pointing it out. Politicians and especially the media are to blame here for covering up this information. It is really frightening to see the police participate in this. Everything the police do gets groups like the NAACP involved, and that gets people nervous (why I don’t understand), and therefore you have the pressure to cover up or ignore what many people already understand is going on, at some level.

    Mr. Sowell, thank you for your courage. It can give you no pleasure nor enough thank you’s to point out this terrible situation. I admire your integrity. God bless.

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  4. KathleenComment by Kathleen
    July 17, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

    re: Patriot

    Race relations have indeed suffered under this president, and that is hilarious, since he was elected by many people to be the “great healer”, and so many people voted for him to get that “feel good” vote. We see how far that got us. He is an active racist, as he has proven in a number of ways, what he says, what he has written, and what his actions are.
    Any white person who votes for Obama is a flat out idiot.

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  5. teapartyproudComment by teapartyproud
    July 18, 2012 @ 6:08 am

    This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg which, the MSM goes to great lengths to cover up, as it doesn’t fit the politically correct agenda.

    The black “youths” even have playful names for their violent activities. “Polar bear hunting” which is attacking random white people for fun. “Beat Whitey Night” is self explanatory. “Knockout King” which means randomly punching an unsuspecting white person with the intention of causing as much damage as possible with one blow.

    How much total disregard for other people do you have to have to engage in this type of behavior just for fun?

    These behaviors are routinely covered up or ignored by the powers that be. One newspaper even covered up their own reporters being attacked.

    Don’t think for a moment that Eric Holder would prosecute any of these black “youths” for a hate crime, let alone prosecute them at all. They look too much like Obama’s son’s.

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  6. firebrandComment by firebrand
    July 18, 2012 @ 9:26 am

    In 1997 a white girl in her early 20′s was walking with her headphones on on in D.C. She noticed 2 black girls, about her age, coming toward her on the sidewalk and moved over so they could get by. They didn’t want to “get by”, they proceded to lock arms and walk into her knocking her down to the sidewalk, all the while with racial slurs. This girl worked in radio and had never known this kind of treatment from anyone, black or white. She got up from the sidewalk with skinned knees and headed to a police station to report what happened. The policeman on duty not only would not take her report and said that it was her fault because she should not be in this part of the city!

    Until then, the girl, who is my daughter, had not thought anything about race and had friends of all cultures. But no more. DC is supposed to be for everyone, not just for the politicians in their “safe places” and the blacks in their gangs.

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  7. bigdtootallComment by bigdtootall
    July 18, 2012 @ 11:29 am

    The so called “progressives” have been very effective by attacking anyone who is white by calling them “haters” when they speak freely about racism coming from minority groups. Anyone of color who stands with them is an “oreo” or a “cocoanut”. I have wrestled with my own demons concerning my own prejudices and can honestly say that these same demons are aroused when the “liberals” bash us about. The Rev. Al Sharpton is most assuredly the devil’s advocate when it comes to discussing race relations. The devil don’t need his need his help. When I see our president and attorney general embrace Rev. Sharpton, I cringe.

    Thank you for stating my feelings for me. I am ashamed to say that I sometimes hesitate to speak freely about racism. It just stirs a hornet’s nest of hatred. Isn’t it ironic that most media outlets employ someone of color to talk for them?

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  8. middlegroundComment by middleground
    July 18, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

    Did any thinking person really believe you’d eliminate racial divides by electing a community organizer of black voters for the Chicago machine and a lawyer for Acorn? More than 3 ½ years after his election we still don’t know where his campaign funds originated or his true beliefs. He obviously benefited from Affirmative Action policies and his latest statement on successful people in America society reflects that belief.

    My personal feeling is that an Amendment on Citizenship is long overdue and that this amendment should spell out that no one is born a citizen, but is born a candidate for citizenship that will be earned by fulfilling certain obligations which prepare one to become a productive member of society and that our K-5 schools will be charged with this preparation. Motivation is the key to success in this country and we’ve been eroding that factor by rewarding and encouraging what were once referred to as the deadly sins, e.g. sloth, hate, lust, greed, envy of success and the gluttony of excess.

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