Ya know, I'm a fairly prolific blogger, and, at the risk of sounding boastful, a fairly well-educated individual. At least once a month, I write a post which involves some research to supplement my beer-sodden perception of a scientific lecture. That being said, I never made a claim to be a "public intellectual". I basically consider myself an "educated yahoo".
Now, Thomas Sowell actually won a prize for intellectual achievement... let's see, via Monsieur McGravitas (I'll be damned if I'm linking to "Townhall") what a conservative "intellectual" serves up to his audience, let's check out his big brain, so to speak:
Roman conquests had historic repercussions for centuries after the Roman Empire had fallen. Among the legacies of Roman civilization were Roman letters, which produced written versions of Western European languages, centuries before Eastern European languages became literate. This was one of many reasons why Western Europe became more advanced than Eastern Europe, economically, educationally and technologically.
Of course, Sowell purposely ignores the fact that, at its greatest extent, the Roman Empire extended well into Eastern Europe and, even more egregiously, that Roman culture persisted in Eastern Europe long after Odoacer marched into Roman and proclaimed himself king of Italy. Sure, by the seventh century, the Eastern Roman Empire used the Greek language for most purposes, but "Roman letters" were not unknown to Eastern Europe. Additionally, Greek letters were perfectly suited for speakers of Slavic languages when Cyril and Methodius adapted them for such use in the 9th century. Sowell also ignores the fact that a Romance language speaking population persists in Eastern Europe to this day (note to self: self, you gotta put up a review of Masters of Atlantis one of these days).
More importantly, literacy rates in Europe in the Middle Ages were pretty piss-poor, and an educated person in Eastern or Western Europe would probably be literate in both Latin and Greek, to the extent that such a person could make a translation of a blasphemous, esoteric text from Greek to Latin three centuries before he was even born.
Sowell also ignores the fact that Eastern Europe was dealt a harsh blow in the 13th Century which left it reeling while Western Europe was beginning to get its shit together, as public intellectual Smut Clyde rightfully points out.
It's tragic how, in order to write for "Townhall", Sowell has to completely forget or ignore history (perhaps his hippocampus was damaged). I hope that each paycheck leaves just a little bad taste in his mouth, just a tiny frisson of shame at how shoddy his reasoning and writing are. At the very least, Sowell's disparaging of Greek culture should lead to some interesting conservative infighting, as at least one fanboy is probably sharpening his makhaira even as I write.