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One of the frequent complaints from the right is that the left “owns the culture” and that the right has no presence in mass media. This is one of Andrew Klavan’s primary beefs on his podcast. He’s not wrong, you know. We’re constantly bombarded with movies and shows that are overt love songs to the hard-left but we have precious few media projects that are right-leaning.
This is a fine premise, but how do you go about establishing a conservative media culture? One thing that I do know is that you don’t do it with overt political stories; that’s preaching to the choir. You do it by telling good stories (a novel concept in modern media) that happen to have a conservative spine. In that vein, there is no better story to tell than the life of Thomas Sowell.
Briefly, this is his life:
- Born in North Carolina shortly after the death of his father in 1930.
- Taken in by an aunt and raised in Harlem, NY.
- Got into the elite Stuyvesant High School but had to drop out at 17 to help support his family.
- Worked at a machine shop and as a delivery man to make ends meet.
- Tried out for the Brooklyn Dodgers, nearly making the squad. (Evidently, he was an excellent athlete.)
- Gets drafted for the Korean War, serves his country as a photographer (another of his many talents).
- Gets back from the war and gets a job in civil service while going to night school at Howard University.
- His professors are so impressed by his work that they help him get into Harvard where he graduated Magna cum Laude.
- Gets his MA from Columbia.
- At this time, Sowell was very much a Marxist, but his work researching minimum wage laws led him to believe that Marxist wage redistribution was beneficial to government bureaucrats but harmful to the working poor.
- Gets Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
- Starts his academic career at Cornell University. The backdrop of course being the notorious race riots at Cornell, of which Sowell was quite critical.
- Embarks on an astonishing career as an academic, philosopher, and writer, becoming one of the real beacons on the right.
It’s hard to imagine a more compelling life story than Thomas Sowell’s. From humble beginnings to national prominence, Sowell’s journey is as implausible as it is inspiring. His success stands as a testament to time-honored conservative values: hard work, perseverance, open-mindedness, integrity, and bravery. That is a movie that I would watch, a movie that America needs to see.
Doubting Thomas, coming to a theater near you.
The “meat” of the movie should focus on the period in life from 20 to 40, the most compelling part of his story. If we’re looking at a two-hour movie:
Part I: The Early Years (Birth through 20): 15 minutes–North Carolina, Move to New York, Discovery of his true talent).
Act Break –> Dropping out of Stuyvesant High School. What does he do now?
Part II: The War and his college years, his first post at Cornell (20-30): 45 Minutes–Korea, From Howard to Harvard (Goodwill Hunting 2.0), Columbia, Working for the government/the failure of Marxism, University of Chicago. The Cornell Race Riots. Transformation.
Act Break –> Will he become a radical or stick with the lessons his aunt taught him so many years before? This is really the turning point in the film.
Part III: Ascension to Greatness (30-60): 45 minutes–Suddenly becomes the most unlikely voice for freedom-oriented Americans. Spars with left-wing white busybodies, Robert Bork testimony, Bill Buckley, Becomes publishing icon. Sparks controversy. Shades of racism in the left’s criticism of him. He’s unstoppable.
Part IV: Retrospective: (60 to present): His role as a light in the darkness, Fame finds Thomas Sowell, Role as a mentor to younger folk, The Presidential Medal of Freedom*
* Hasn’t happened … yet.Published in