Thomas Sowell’s syndicated column this week took on Derrick Bell, whom Sowell knew at Stanford. Sowell writes that Bell was not a leading scholar, and that he found himself between a rock and a hard place in career terms:
Derrick Bell’s options were to be a nobody, living in the shadow of more accomplished legal scholars — or to go off on some wild tangent of his own, and appeal to a radical racial constituency on campus and beyond.
His writings showed clearly that the latter was the path he chose.
Sowell points out that Bell had, to that point, written undistinguished but sensible articles about civil rights. But once he realized he could make a career with his odd thesis – critical race theory – “he wrote all sorts of incoherent speculations and pronouncements, the main drift of which was that white people were the cause of black people’s problems.”