Any serious study of racial and ethnic groups, whether in a given society or in a wide variety of societies in countries around the world, repeatedly
encounters the inescapable fact of large and numerous disparities among these groups, whether in income, education, crime rates, IQs or many
other things. These differences cannot be dismissed as mere “perceptions” or “stereotypes,” nor can they be automatically attributed to some one
given cause, such as genetics, as was often the primary cause cited in the early twentieth century, or to maltreatment by others, as was equally often
cited in the late twentieth century. The sources of these disparities are numerous and complex, and they must be confronted in their complexity, if we
are seeking the truth, rather than trying to promote a vision or an agenda. THE REALITY OF DISPARITIES Sometimes minorities are on the short
end of disparities (as in the United States, Britain and France), and sometimes it is a majority that lags behind (as in Malaysia, Indonesia or the
Ottoman Empire). Sometimes the disparities are blamed on discrimination, sometimes on genes, but in any event the disparities are treated as
oddities that need explaining, no matter how common such supposed oddities are in countries around the world or in how many centuries they have
been common. Because intellectuals’ assumptions about these disparities are so deeply ingrained, so widely disseminated, and have such powerful
ramifications on so many issues, it is worth taking a closer and longer look at the facts of the real world, now and in the past. Where minorities have
outperformed politically dominant majorities, it is especially difficult to make the case that discrimination is the cause.* A study of the Ottoman Empire,
for example, found that “of the 40 private bankers listed in Istanbul in 1912 not one bore a Muslim name.” Nor was even one of the 34 stockbrokers
in Istanbul a Turk.
0 Of the capital assets of 284 industrial firms employing five or more workers, 50 percent were owned by Greeks and another 20 percent by
1 In the seventeenth century Ottoman Empire, the palace medical staff consisted of 41 Jews and 21 Muslims.
2 The racial or ethnic minorities who have owned or directed more than half of whole industries in particular nations have included the Chinese in
3 the Lebanese in West Africa,
4 Greeks in the Ottoman Empire,
5 Britons in Argentina,
6 Belgians in Russia,
7 Jews in Poland,
8 and Spaniards in Chile
9— among many others. As of 1921, members of the Tamil minority in Ceylon outnumbered members of the Sinhalese majority in that country’s
medical profession. 10 In America, there were eight times during the twentieth century when a baseball player stole 100 or more bases in a season;
all eight times that player was black. 11 Groups have differed greatly in innumerable endeavors in countries around the world. In 1908, Germans
were the sole producers of the following products in Brazil’s state of São Paulo: metal furniture, trunks, stoves, paper, hats, neckties, leather, soap,
glass, matches, beer, confections, and carriages. 12 People of Japanese ancestry who settled in that same state produced more than two-thirds of
the potatoes and more than 90 percent of the tomatoes. 13 Exporters from the Lebanese minority in the African nation of Sierra Leone accounted for
85 percent of the exports of ginger in 1954 and 93 percent in 1955.14 In 1949, Lebanese truckers in Sierra Leone outnumbered African truckers
and European truckers combined. 15 In 1921, more than three-fifths of all the commerce in Poland was conducted by Jews, who were only 11
percent of the population. 16 In 1948, members of the Indian minority owned roughly nine-tenths of all the cotton gins in Uganda. 17 In colonial
Ceylon, the textile, retailing, wholesaling, and import businesses were all largely in the hands of people of Indian ancestry, rather than in the hands of
the Sinhalese majority. 18 As early as 1887, more than twice as many Italians as Argentines had bank accounts in the Banco de la Provincia de
Buenos Aires, 19 even though most nineteenth-century Italian immigrants arrived in Argentina destitute and began working in the lowest, hardest,
and most “menial” jobs. In the United States, knowledge of the frugality of Italian immigrants, and their reliability in repaying debts, even when they
had low incomes, caused a bank to be set up to attract this clientele in San Francisco, under the name “Bank of Italy.” It became so successful that it
spread out to the larger society, and eventually became the largest bank in the world under its new name, “Bank of America.”

Sowell, Thomas. Intellectuals and Race (pp. 7-9). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

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