The Crazy 60’s

Thomas Sowell sets the record straight on many supposedly good things that came out of the 1960’s:

While liberals may think of the 1960s as the beginning of many “progressive” trends in American society, cold hard facts tell a very different story. The 1960s marked the end of many beneficial trends that had been going on for years — and a complete reversal of those trends as programs, policies, and ideologies of the liberals took hold.

Teenage pregnancy had been going down for years. So had venereal disease. Rates of infection for syphilis in 1960 was half of what it had been in 1950. There were similar trends in crime. The total number of murders in the United States in 1960 was lower than in 1950, 1940, or 1930 — even though the population was growing and two new states had been added. The murder rate, in proportion to population, in 1960 was half of what it had been in 1934.

Every one of these beneficial trends sharply reversed after liberal notions gained ascendancy during in the 1960s. By 1974, the murder rate had doubled. Even liberal icon Sargent Shriver, head of the agency directing the “war on poverty,” admitted that “venereal disease has skyrocketed” even though “we have had more clinics, more pills, and more sex education than ever in history.”

Liberals looking back on the 1960s take special pride in their role on racial issues, for civil rights laws and the advancement of blacks out of poverty. Those riots that threatened to tear the country apart were race riots — and supposedly the liberals saved us all.

But what do the facts show?

Both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had a higher percentage of Congressional Republicans voting for their enactment than the percentage of Congressional Democrats.

You can check it out in The Congressional Record.

As for black economic advances, the most dramatic reduction in poverty among blacks occurred between 1940 and 1960, when the black poverty rate was cut almost in half, without any major government programs of the Great Society kind that began in the 1960s.

Liberals love to point to the rise of blacks out of poverty since 1960 as proof of the benefits of liberal programs, as if the continuation of a trend that began decades earlier was proof of how liberals saved blacks.

As for saving the country from riots, the facts show the direct opposite. It was precisely when liberals were in power that riots rocked cities across the country. There were never as many riots during the two presidential terms of Ronald Reagan as during one term of Lyndon Johnson.

Even during the 1960s, riots were far more common and deadly in liberal bastions like New York City than in Chicago, where the original Mayor Daley announced on television that he had given his police orders to “shoot to kill” if riots broke out.

Daley was demonized for saying such a thing, even though Chicago did not have the loss of life suffered in liberal cities where mayors pandered to grievance-mongers and pleaded for restraint. In other words, the net effect was that Daley saved lives while liberals saved their vision.

The full article can be found here.

30 Responses to “The Crazy 60’s”


  • Both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had a higher percentage of Congressional Republicans voting for their enactment than the percentage of Congressional Democrats.

    Most of those democrats who voted against the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act switched to Republican as a result of this legislation. And as recently as this month many Republcans tried to hold up renewal of the voting rights acts.

    Riots happened in the liberal bastions because that is where the opressed minorites lived en masse.

    In the conserative bastions like the South there were only lynchings and murders of city. Much more civilized.

  • In more current terms. Violent crime had gone down under theClinton Administration when Strict Gun Control Legislation was enacted and now in the past few years in the Bush Administration Violent Crime has begun to increase as the effective Gun Legislation has been rolled back.

  • Like congressional Republicans, I too am a supporter of letting the “emergency” provisions of the Voting Rights Act die, heres why.

    As far as Democrats switching to the Republican side, let us also not forget that the only senator to be given life long membership into the Ku Klux Klan is a Democrat senator, Robert Byrd, who also happens to be the longest-serving current member of the U.S. Congress.

    As far as violent crime goes, I don’t know where you are getting your data but the DOJ reports: “Violent crime rates declined since 1994, reaching the lowest level ever recorded in 2004”. Found here.

    Either way, last I checked most violent crime is done with unregistered guns by people who are using the gun illegally, making future gun laws primarily harm law abiding citizens, not those who are committing the crimes.

  • PHILADELPHIA (AP) – FBI statistics Monday confirmed what big cities like Philadelphia, Houston, Cleveland and Las Vegas have seen on the streets: Violent crime in the U.S. is on the rise, posting its biggest one-year increase since 1991.

    This came out June 12th. Gee who was president in 1991.

  • Once again, Sowell is obscuring the truth when he refers to the roles of Democrats and Republicans in regards to the Civil Rights Movement.

    The fact that Democrats at the time were dominant in the South means nearly nothing. For heaven’s sake, Sowell knows this. For him to cite the voting on the Civil Rights Act is simply irrelevant to the subject of Liberals/Conservatives or to modern Republicans/Democrats regarding civil rights.

    It is a well-known historical fact (not an interpretation, but a fact!) that the Republican Party capitulated to bigotry during the Civil Rights era; which resulted in a steady flow of Southern bigots from the Democrat to the Republican parties that continues today.

    This was the “Southern Strategy” that current Republican Party Chairman Mehlman recently apologized to American blacks for. This is the historical record. For Sowell to ignore it is simply absurd.

  • As far as Democrats switching to the Republican side, let us also not forget that the only senator to be given life long membership into the Ku Klux Klan is a Democrat senator, Robert Byrd, who also happens to be the longest-serving current member of the U.S. Congress.

    This is a deceptive post. Senator Byrd is not a loife long member of the Klan. He renounced the Klan several decades ago. He quit the Klan in 1946 before Civil Rights voting came across congress. It was reprehensible for him to have joined the Klan something he has apoligized for many times. Somehow zealots like Hannity can forgive a guy for drunk driving in his late 30’s as a youthful indiscretion, but someone who made a mistake in his twenties and is a democrat is fair game to bring up despite his long record opposing his prior beliefs. Just as McCain’s dalliance as a member of the Keating 5 has made him a huge crusader against campaign finance improprities so has
    Byrd’s mistakes asa young southern racists. Unlike Helms, Thurmon etc. he changed his ways.

    The democratic party also includes Congressman Lewis from Georgia who was attacked on the bridge in Alabama in those very riots you were talking abouut.

    Also , New York had relatively few if any race riots in the ’60’s. Newark did 20 miles down the road, but not NY.

  • LaurenceB,

    For him to cite the voting on the Civil Rights Act is simply irrelevant to the subject of Liberals/Conservatives or to modern Republicans/Democrats regarding civil rights

    I agree with this, but that was not Thomas Sowell’s point, he is addressing overall historical party, and which one has done what for minorities. For whatever the reason, when push came to shove, and we start talking about real civil rights accomplishments, Republicans came through more than Democrats, atleast in the civil rights acts.

    As far as the southern strategy goes, Democrats too put politics over civil rights. After all, while in one hand LBJ was nominating Thurgood Marshall, he was calling him the N-word in the other. Both parties played politics with race.

    Michael,

    There is a big difference between getting drunk and being a member of the KKK, I think we can agree on that. Yes Byrd renounced his membership, but he was still given life long membership by the Klan. He must have been a very effective member at the time…

  • Sewell seems more concerned with pimping out the Republican party rather than the meat of whatever his point is. The Republicans or the Democrats didn’t win civil rights, brave people in the South did. The moment some politician tries to take credit for that is the moment I stop listening to whatever they are spitting.

  • Thomas Sowell is concerned with balancing out the discussions, not pimping out the Republican party. With that said though, I agree with your latter point. I wish more people believed the same thing…

  • No problem with getting drunk. Problem with getting drunk and getting behind the wheel. Drunk drivers have killed a lot more Americans than the KKK ever did.

  • The Byrd thing is an irrelevancy that you are beating to death, HP.

    Ok, let’s go back to the conformist, racist, sexist, homophobic, red-baiting 1950’s.

  • Ahhh, but your points are so modern and relevant. Thanks for such refreshing insight! [/sarcasm]

  • About as relevant as Bush at the G-8 meeting.

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