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Steinberg Sowell Draft

Steinberg Sowell Draft - Rick 1 Michelle Rick 11.19.2007...

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Michelle Rick 11.19.2007 Race Relations Bruce Haynes Steinberg, Sowell, and the Great Race Debate To compare the works and opinions of Steven Steinberg and Thomas Sowell would be, in a sense, to compare apples and oranges while contrasting day and night at the same time. While they share certain opinions and address a few of the same subjects, many of the views they express are polar opposites. Steinberg’s ideas on pluralism and ethnic backgrounds in America as a whole, as mentioned in his book The Ethnic Myth , run in a completely direction the isolated analysis of various ethnic groups covered in Sowell’s Ethnic America . Even their styles are contradictory to one another: Steinberg supports his assertions with related evidence, while Sowell chooses to analyze statistics and then follow up to them with his own conclusions. Although both authors make sustainable arguments, Steinberg is more successful than Sowell at accurately describing race and its relations to American society. While Sowell dissects the reasons that he believes certain ethnic groups are successful, Steinberg chooses to focus more on imbalance between ethnic successes in similar conditions. Sowell attributes ethnic success of particular groups to inner beliefs and motivation. Steinberg, on the contrary, sees success as something that would be determined by economic opportunity at the times of each group’s immigration to America. He looks to history and carefully examines it in order to develop his arguments. Both authors mention the different timing of arrival in America from the various ethnic groups, but Steinberg really analyzes it and factors it into economic success whereas Sowell simply addresses it in passing. Sowell mainly uses the history of immigration to explain why particular ethnic groups settled into certain areas, resulting in those areas becoming mainly Rick 1
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concentrated by that particular ethic group. He gives reasons for the historical timing of each ethnic and for their decisions to settle where they did, but fails to mention how geographic location further plays into the development of each ethnic group in American culture (Sowell 13). Steinberg, on the other hand, sees immigration times and settlement patterns as a great influence in ethnic prosperity. “The historical circumstances under which groups entered American society—whether they were overpowered by a nation bent on territorial conquest, whether they were shackled to slave galleys, or whether they came over on immigrant vessels in search of a better life—is of obvious importance (Steinberg 40).” It is clear what he is getting at by this quote, even though he does not explicitly say which three immigrant groups he is talking about. Native-Americans were conquered and arguably abused by the American government in times of colonization. Blacks were the ones who came as slaves against their will. European immigrants, both from western and eastern Europe, were the ones who always had freedom in America in pursuit of the coveted American Dream. Though Steinberg’s argument is not
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