The End of Racism

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Front cover of The End of Racism
Great and terrible
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On our shelf:
Writer's block
Many of my black friends were understandably alarmed to hear that D'Souza's book endorses the practice of "rational discrimination." One told me that she'd read only so much of the book-up to the point at which, on page 69, D'Souza notes that the civil rights movement failed because it did not consider its political consequences, namely, that "racism might be fortified if blacks were unable to exercise their rights effectively and responsibly." After that, she decided the book might as well be called The Negro A Beast, after Charles Carroll's best-seller of 1900.[1]

The End of Racism: Principles for a Multiracial Society (ISBN 9780029081020) is a 1995 highly racist book by conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza where he analyzes racial relations in the United States and, in the process, basically comes to the conclusion that racism is over, African Americans are complaining about nothing, and we should all just pretend that race doesn't exist and it will magically go away.

According to D'Souza, after all, "African Americans suffer slights in terms of taxi drivers who pass them by, pedestrians who treat them as a security risk, banks that are reluctant to invest in black neighborhoods, and other forms of continued discrimination."[2]:24 Of course, this statement, meant to downplay racism in the United States, actually makes it sound rather serious. As Paul Finkelman pointed out in his review of the work, "Without bank loans minorities are unable to buy homes or start or expand businesses. It is indeed odd that D'Souza, who wrote this book while a fellow a the American Enterprise Institute, would be so caliver about such an important aspect of the American economy as access to capital."[3]

Things only get more absurd from here, as Finkelman notes that:

D'Souza concludes that there is no white racism, except for some distant period between the end of the Civil War and the modern era, there never really was any racism, only scattered examples of intolerance. Even the early twentieth century, when segregation was in full force and lynching was rampant, was not truly an era of racism because, D'Souza contends, segregation was a paternalistic system promulgated by the better class of whites to protect blacks from the real "racists" in the South. He even claims that protests to segregation in the later nineteenth century came not from blacks offended by discrimination, but from white owners of street cars and other facilities, who resisted separate accommodations for blacks because it was economically inefficient to provide them.[3]

Finkelman notes that D'Souza got this claim from an economic history article which only discussed segregation the streetcar industry.[3] And although it is true that streetcar companies disliked segregation due to the decrease in profit it caused (in fact, the streetcar industry played an important role in challenging the segregation in Louisiana, leading to the infamous Plessy v. Ferguson case[4]) Finkelman notes that various African Americans engaged in boycotts and other methods of fighting segregation, one of which the article D'Souza cites even mentions.[3]

Furthermore, again as Finkelman notes, "History also shows that businesses, rather than opposing segregation, actually initialed it . . . This was certainly not in their economic self-interest; it was, however, in the cultural and class interests of the leaders of the South who controlled these enterprises."[3]

Slavery apologetics[edit]

At one point, D'Souza declares, "The American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well."[2]:91 However, this was after several pages of apologetics for slavery on D'Souza's part, both as an institution and on a personal level.

D'Souza, by his own admission, based many of his conclusions off of Robert Fogel's and Stanley Engerman's 1974 book Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery.[2]:88[5] Even ignoring the fact that said work is considered "at least to be severely flawed and possibly not even worth further attention by serious scholars" according to one article in The New York Review of Books the following year,[6] D'Souza still badly mangles the already contentious book into something unrecognizable. To give just one example, D'Souza claims the book proves that "whippings were infrequent,"[2]:88 but the section of Time on the Cross regarding whipping specifically begins by noting "Reliable data on the frequency of whipping is extremely sparse" before noting that one plantation with two hundred slaves saw "a total of 160 whippings."[5]:145 In fact, the book makes the point that whippings as a punishment were actually fairly mundane during that time, writing that "It must be remembered that through the centuries whipping was considered a fully acceptable form of punishment, not merely for criminals but also for honest men or women who in some way shirked their duties."[5]:146

D'Souza wrote that "Reading Time on the Cross by itself, slavery appears such a relatively mild business that one begins to wonder why Fredrick Douglass and so many others ever tried to escape it." (Notice his mention of runaways, in spite of him dismissing the idea that slaves were attempting to escape from bondage one paragraph before.)[2]:89 However, one has to wonder if he has read this book, given that he goes on to portray slaves as lazy, writing about how slaves would engage in "a series of measures to avoid, postpone, and minimize work."[2]:97 Meanwhile, the book he cites specifically notes as one of its main conclusions that "The typical slave field hand was not lazy, inept, and unproductive. On average he was harder-working and more efficient than his white counterpart."[5]:5

D'Souza goes on to write about the "widely different personalities [slaves developed] on the plantations: the playful Sambo, the sullen 'field nigger,' the dependable Mammy, the sly and inscrutable trickster."[2]:96

When D'Souza is not saying absurd or abhorrent things, he's saying utterly uncontroversial historical facts and treating them as if they are some kind of massive hole in a prevailing narrative. While discussing the aforementioned points, he also takes time to note that the United States did not invent slavery and that many Africans sold black slaves to Europeans, a notion which Finkelman said "many offend some extremist Afro-centric scholars . . . but they offer no new knowledge and will not surprise any serious student of African history or American slavery."[3]

Was slavery racist?[edit]

One of the oddest claims made in the book is that American slavery was not actually a racist institution. He bases this off of the fac that many Africans sold slaves to Europeans, slavery was not created by the United States, and that many free black people owned slaves of their own.

The first two claims have nothing to do with the argument D'Souza is making. Africans could have easily sold other Africans into an institution that discriminated against them, either out of ignorance to what that entailed or because they had no concern for those who were being sold. In the same regard, slavery existing elsewhere in the world has nothing to do with if it was done in a racist manner in the context of how it was implemented in he United States.

With the third claim, D'Souza greatly hyperbolizes the number of black people who owned slaves in the United States, calling it "not uncommon." However "only a minuscule number of African Americans--mostly mulattos of mixed ancestry trying very hard to distinguish themselves from 'blacks'--owned slaves as an investment." When black slave owners did come about "all but a handful of black slaveowners simply tried to make life easier for heir relatives."[3]

D'Souza specifically says that he thinks it was "morally disturbing" that some black people owned slaves.[2]:79 But if there was nothing racist about slavery, why would it be more disturbing than white people owning slaves?

Rational discrimination[edit]

One of the more notable aspects of this book is how D'Souza defends the racist assumptions many Americans make as simply being based on observation, writing:

Only because group traits have an empirical basis in shared experience can we invoke them without fear of contradiction. Think of how people would react if someone said that "Koreans are lazy" or that "Hispanics are constantly trying to find ways to make money." Despite the prevalence of anti-Semitism, Jews are rarely accused of stupidity. Blacks are never accused of being tight with a dollar, or of conspiring to take over the world. By reversing stereotypes we can see how their persistence re- lies, not simply on the assumptions of the viewer, but also on the characteristics of the group being describe.[1]

In a review for he Indiana University Press, Michael Bérubé tells the following joke to make fun of D'Souza's logic:

[T]here's no reason to think of D'Souza as antiblack; on the contrary, the theory of "rational discrimination" may prove even more dangerous to white Ameri- cans than to any other group. It doesn't take a Malcolm or an Ishmael Reed to figure this one out: White people blow up federal buildings. White people pillage savings and loans. White people built Love Canal. White people commit horrid, unthinkable murders of helpless children and pregnant women, and then they blame them on black men. All the great serial killers of the West are white people. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that all white people are crazy or greedy or dishonest. Some of my closest friends are white. But would you want your daughter to marry one?[1]

How D'Souza had legal action taken against him or lying about a racist[edit]

Just before the publication of this book, an article in The Washington Post by D'Souza adapted one of its chapters where he criticized certain conservatives whom he viewed as racist, specifically including incredibly racist quotes from Samuel Francis,[7] which led to Francis being fired from The Washington Times.[8] However, those who were actually at the conference say that D'Souza consistently lied about what had occurred. Lawrence Auster said that D'Souza lied about hearing racial slurs in causal conversations, used David Duke showing up against the wishes of the convention as evidence of an alliance between the two, and used racist slogans from organizations that have nothing to do with American Renaissance as evidence of the racism of the group.[9]

When Jared Taylor, the white nationalist writer for American Renaissance, threatened legal action against both Free Press and D'Souza for making several dishonest statements against him, Free Press was forced to remove much of the chapter and trash the entire first printing along with it.[10]

Response from scholars[edit]

In order to respond to D'Souza's claim that liberals have "inflated he presence of racism in our country," The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education published a list of then-recent racist incidents which D'Souza had to ignore in order to come to this conclusion.[11]

Michael Bérubé, while comparing this book to The Bell Curve, wrote that "In this new genre, measured commentary, reportage, and scholarship are blended with ultraconservative and even fascist policy recommendations, regardless of the logical relation between the scholarship and the recommendations."[1]

The Journal of Southern History was also far from happy with the work, with John David Smith saying that "D'Souza bases his terribly insensitive, reactionary polemic on sound bite statistical and historical evidence, frequently gleaned out of context and patched together illogically."[12]

Paul Finkelman, writing in a 1996 edition of Yale Law & Policy Review, used the book as an example of "the new racism" he had been seeing at the time.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Review: Extreme Prejudice
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 The End of Racism: Principles for a Multiracial Society by Dinesh D'Souza (1995) Free Press. ISBN 0029081025.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Review: The Rise of the New Racism
  4. "Separate But Equal" | Plessy v. Ferguson
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery by Robert William Fogel & Stanley L. Engerman (1974) Little, Brown and Co. ISBN 0316287008.
  6. The True & Tragical History of ‘Time on the Cross’ by Thomas L. Haskell (October 2, 197) The New York Review of Books.
  7. Racism: It's a White (and Black) Thing by Dinesh D'Souza (September 24, 1995) The Washington Post.
  8. Washington Times Clips Its Right Wing by Howard Kurtz (October 19, 1995) The Washington Post.
  9. Race and Reality by Lawrence Auster (October 7, 1995) The Washington Post.
  10. Letters to the Editor by Dinesh D'Souza and Jared Taylor (October 15, 1995) The Washington Post.
  11. Dinesh D'Souza's Race Merchants
  12. Review: [Untitled]