I don’t mean to pick on this one randomly selected citizen. But this is something we hear all the time: that back in my day, things were simpler and better, and the America I remember from my youth is being destroyed. The best answer I’ve seen to this repeated complaint came from The Daily Show’s John Oliver. In the clip below, he makes what ought to have been an obvious point: “So just when was the simpler, better time that all these great Americans want us to return to? … They were children! … It was a better, simpler time because they were all 6 years old! For children, the world is always a happy, uncomplicated place!”With that in mind it is perhaps not surprising that Pat Buchanan, who turned 12 in 1950, believes that the 1950's were an age of bliss and wonder. Buchanan can wax nostalgic about the age of legal segregation because he was and is blind to its realities, and can comfortably obsess on what he sees as bad hyphenation - black Americans self-identifying as "African-American" instead of simply "American".
I've previously commented on "good multiculturalism" versus "bad multiculturalism". I have never seen Pat Buchanan, or anybody like him, complain that there are 122,000,000 'hits' on Google for "Irish-American", that individuals and groups celebrate their Irish heritage, or that we as a nation celebrate St. Patrick's Day. I have never heard him complain that a person self-identified as Catholic instead of the more inclusive "Christian". That's all "good multiculturalism". Similarly, Buchanan erases episodes of multiculturalism from our nation's history and from world history. He complains,
No more will we all speak the same language. We will be bilingual and bi-national. Spanish radio and TV stations are already the fastest growing. In Los Angeles, half the people speak a language other than English in their own homes.Never mind that we have always had ethnic communities in the United States, under such names as Chinatown and Little Italy, in which it was anything but unusual to find immigrants who spoke little to no English. Overlooking the fact that it's pretty easy to find television programming and even newspapers in any given language these days, do you doubt that markets would have responded with a greater number of media choices? Capitalism in action.
The old Christian churches — Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran and especially Episcopalian — are splitting, shrinking and dying.When, at least since the early Sixteenth Century, has the Christian faith been immune from fragmentation and evolution? There's an irony here: many of the churches that are at the biggest risk of dying out are those associated with specific ethnicities. The Episcopal Church is the American offshoot of the Anglican Church - the Church of England. It was strongest when large numbers of Americans felt a strong ethnic affinity with England, and has declined as that connection has faded.
Buchanan's synopsis of the decline of American culture comes first with the lament that only 75 percent of Americans self-identify as Christian (down from 85% in 1990), and the hollow man:
What was morally repellent — promiscuity, homosexuality, abortion — is now seen by perhaps half the nation as natural, normal, healthy and progressive.While acceptance of homosexuality has increased to the point that a majority now supports gay marriage, no significant number of Americans would describe either promiscuity or abortion as "natural, normal, healthy and progressive". Under Buchanan's thesis, even if the number is lower than in the past, having 75% of Americans self-identify as Christian should be seen as a good thing. Instead, that 75% consensus is said to mean that "The moral consensus and moral code Christianity gave to us has collapsed."
In California’s prisons and among her proliferating ethnic gangs, a black-brown civil war has broken out.That's quite unlike the "good gangs" of the 1950's - those boys could harmonize.
Buchanan presents an interesting statistical claim,
Where out-of-wedlock births in the 1950s were rare, today, 41 percent of all American children are born out of wedlock. Among Hispanics, it is 51 percent; among blacks, 71 percent. And the correlation between the illegitimacy rate, the drug rate, the dropout rate, the crime rate and the incarceration rate is absolute.In regard to out-of-wedlock births, it should be noted that there were more teen births in the 1950's than in the present, and more "shotgun weddings". One could make a case that the rising acceptance of divorce and reproductive freedom, and the trend away from compelling young pregnant girls to marry, is a direct response to the societal coercion to which Buchanan would have us return.
But let's take Buchanan at face value. He tells us that the illegitimacy rate is up, and that correlation with the "drug rate" is absolute. But illicit drug usage peaked in the late 1970's, and both alcohol and cigarette consumption have also declined in recent decades. There is a strong correlation between age and illicit drug use, as younger people are more likely to use illicit drugs than are older people, and I suspect that Buchanan is disregarding that correlation in order to try to tie higher drug usage rates to specific ethnicities without regard to average and median age. He tells us that the correlation with the crime rate is absolute, but despite a sharp increase between 1960 and 1970, the crime rate leveled off, with peaks in 1980 and 1991 and a subsequent decline. (There's a stronger correlation between the crime rate and Pat Buchanan's political career than there is with illegitimacy.)
There is nothing talismanic about illegitimacy that raises the incarceration rate - being born to an unmarried mother doesn't change your genome - but it is fair to observe that the children of single parents are more likely to live in economically distressed homes and communities and poverty, an issue that does not seem to be on Buchanan's radar, is associated with a higher crime rate. It is reasonable to argue that marriage is a good way to stabilize households, increasing the chance that a child will have a better lifestyle, better parenting and more opportunity than a child raised by a single parent; it's an imperfect solution, but it is probably the most cost-effective to society.
Neocons says not to worry, the Constitution holds us together.Which neocons are saying that... and who listens to neocons any more?
How can we be the “one nation, under God” of the Pledge of Allegiance, or the people “endowed by their Creator” with inalienable rights, if we cannot even identify or discuss or mention that God and that Creator in the schools of America?What prevents classroom discussion of our founding documents, the religious beliefs of the founding fathers and the manner in which those beliefs are reflected in our founding documents? That is, other than the fact that some of the founding fathers had views on religion that would make Pat Buchanan very uncomfortable, perhaps to the point of accusing them of trying to destroy our common Christian heritage and values. Buchanan knows that discussion is possible in the classroom - for goodness sake, many school children open the day by reciting The Pledge of Allegiance - so why the hyperbolic deception?
Do we agree on what the Ninth Amendment says about right to life? What about what the 14th Amendment says about affirmative action? What the Second Amendment says about the right to carry a concealed gun?Buchanan would have us return to 1950's, when the consensus among those whose opinions mattered were that the Second Amendment did not protect an individual's right to bear arms, that "separate but equal" and segregation were good ways to deal with ethnic minorities, and it was difficult to get a safe abortion unless you were somewhat wealthy? Yeah, that would make everything better.