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Quote Of The Day - Pat Buchanan's America Edition


"The country I grew up in was culturally united, even if it was racially divided. We spoke the same language, had the same faith, laughed at the same comedians. We were one nationality"

Pat Buchanan, remembering the good old days in Time Magazine.

Comments (31)

What a prick. Enough said.<... (Below threshold)

What a prick. Enough said.

Well, he IS the same guy wh... (Below threshold)

Well, he IS the same guy who said we had no quarrel with Hitler, that he wasn't a threat to America until Germany declared war upon us.

The same guy whose old friends and colleagues, William F. Buckley, Jr., and William Safire, refused to defend against charges of anti-semitism.

If anything, the years have made him even more shrill and further towards the lunatic fringe.

I sometimes think America h... (Below threshold)

I sometimes think America has lost its ability to reason, and the comments above are Exhibits A and B. Whatever else Buchanan has said that's objectively objectionable, the quoted statement is correct.

In 1956, America was, to some extent, still racially divided. Some states still had "Jim Crow" laws that traveled under another name. Brown v. Board of Education hadn't yet taken full effect. This was a situation that demanded to be remedied, and over the course of the decade to follow, white Americans and their political representatives leaped into the fray and did so. Granted that they made some mistakes along the way; the good will was there, the effort was there, and a way forward could be seen, albeit through a glass, darkly.

Now, what else can we say about America of a half-century ago?
-- It was the strongest nation in the world, with an unmatchable military, a booming free-market economy, and a network of alliances that girdled the globe.
-- It was domestically peaceful and orderly; even poor urban ghettoes were models of cleanliness and order compared to today.
-- Its national morale was at an all-time high, and its people's optimism and cordiality stunned visitors from other parts of the world.
-- Its culture had begun to permeate the rest of Western civilization, such that American products, including American music and movies, were the most ardent desires of persons everywhere.
-- Its people, churchgoing and otherwise, were rich in the virtues, most particularly the manly virtues without which a nation's strength will falter and fail. They were unafraid of their guns, their opinions, or their responsibility to help to maintain American society.

The rest of the world was continually conscious of America. It had to be; once we involved ourselves in a matter of importance, the debate was essentially over.

-- We're still the strongest nation in the world, but our ability to sway world events is less than it was back when. Our alliances have crumbled, and our so-called "friends" are almost as duplicitous as our open enemies.
-- Our cities are riven by violent crime, a plague of drugs and illegitimacy, and murderous roving street gangs that frequently exercise more de facto authority than the metropolitan police.
-- We doubt ourselves: our righteousness, our power, our prospects, and our ability to persevere. Our doubts are not kept well enough concealed to prevent our enemies from using them against us, through the mechanisms of our own media.
-- The aspects of our culture for which we're best known abroad are the ones a decent man would regard with scorn, if not shame. As for manufactures, the best of ours are software; most of the rest are stamped "Made in Taiwan."
-- You'd have to travel a long way to find a man unafraid to discipline an unruly youth or run toward a mugging in progress. To a very great extent, our menfolk have been emasculated, even when it comes to confronting the expression of ugly, obscene, or villainous views.

America is still the beacon of the world, but that beacon shines less brightly today than it did during Eisenhower's time. And you think the residual racism and xenophobia of the Fifties, which would be dispelled in the coming decade, somehow cancels all of that? That because we're so politically correct today that we don't dare to mention that seventy percent of all babies born to black mothers today are illegitimate -- that terrorism and deliberately fomented inter-group hatreds can be localized to groups identifiable by creed and race -- that the "entertainment" preferred by certain minorities seldom rises above the level of salacious trash -- we're a better nation on net balance than we were back then?

Your priorities could stand some realignment.

Very well said Francis. Al... (Below threshold)

Very well said Francis. Although I would say its not so much that we doubt our ability to persevere as much as 'we' don't want to. The outcome of foreign adventures doesn't matter as long as 'we' can sip our Starbucks and watch American Idol, right?
I also find it interesting that those who complain loudest about foreign policy are usually deeply involved in imports. Not willing to do the research, or pay the price for American made goods. Just think where our country would be if weall opted for durable goods over the foreign throw-away variety?

Sorry Francis, but that uto... (Below threshold)

Sorry Francis, but that utopian view of the past could only come from a white person. As a Hispanic who grew up in a predominatly black home town that era sucked. Ghettos and barros seemed peaceful and models of cleaniness because it just wasn't shown what they truly were like. There was less discourse because a good protion of us weren't allowed to speak out.

I'm not saying today is better. I'm saying the past wasn't as good as you think if you buried your head in the sand. It was a shithole to live in the ghetto then it just wasn't some elitist white person's Cause de Jour.

"Racially divided but peaceful" is a single view held by those who weren't on the racial side being kicked in the teeth.

And before I get accused of being a bleeding heart liberal I'm far from it. Liberals would always tell me I was unable to succeed in life because of my race or color and I could only succeed if I sucked from their government tit. I was lucky my family moved from a socialist nightmare to America where I had to chance to succeed on my own.

But it was no picnic to be in America in the 50s/60s and 70s and not be white. Don't fool yourself...again.

As for the cities being worse now...I'd take a stroll in New York City of 2006 at night, alone feeling several orders of magnitude safer than 20, 30, 40 or 50 years ago.

The comments by "Porretto" ... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:

The comments by "Porretto" and "Faith+1" are the best I have ever read. They make wading through most of the tripe posted on the internet worth it.

It amazes me how Pat can ha... (Below threshold)

It amazes me how Pat can have such good political insights on many matters, but have such a tin ear when it comes to this one.

He really has made a caricature of himself with this book.

Hmmmm.Frankly I th... (Below threshold)


Frankly I think it's very difficult to accurately gauge the relationship between today and 50+ years ago. The rose-tinted lenses that colors all perceptions of that older age tends to obscure many of the more profligate injustices then.

And I can't say I completely agree that America laughed at the same comedians because the only ones that really got national exposure were generally white. This resulted in the existence of several strong sub-cultures in the black, hispanic and asian communities where excellent entertainers drew their own followings, but ultimately became forgotten.

Then there's the whole issue of sports where racial divisions still ruled.

*shrug* I think that people would like to believe America was more united back then, and it may actually be true as America had just recently, within living memory, finished WWII. It may be true because of the uniting effects of the Korean War. Or it may be just the unwillingness of people to recognize what evils there were back then.

But I am fairly certain that there weren't any substantial urban areas back then where english wasn't spoken at all such as those in southern Florida, Los Angeles or elsewhere in America today.

And so using that yardstick, yeah. America was more united back then. But only when using that yardstick.

Thank you Faith+1 for rebuk... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

Thank you Faith+1 for rebuking Mr. Francis W. Porretto's silly diatribe from your minority viewpoint. He talks in broad generalizations to paint that hackneyed yarn about How Great It Was In The Good Ol' Days. He seems to have forgotten Detroit burning to the ground and very young minorities drafted by the thousands to die in Vietnam and Martin Luther King's assasination and a few other little details about them fun times. I don't understand his point other than to say rap music sucks and the ghettos of today have more trash .... a viewpoint taken through the window of a car with the radio on? This guy should (1) take Prozac, and (2) focus on Christian homeless relief work to get a clue.

Ah yes, the 50s and 60s, wh... (Below threshold)
Robin Goodfellow:

Ah yes, the 50s and 60s, what halcyon days of yore those were. Once you ignore the race riots, the generational revolution, the near civil war, the fragmentation of political parties, the proliferation of home grown terrorist organization (such as the KKK, black panthers, etc.), the widespread poverty (of all races), the darkest and most desperate era of the Cold War, and, well, every other inconvenient fact of REALITY. Well, then, it's almost the perfect era.

RedFog and RobinThe ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

RedFog and Robin
The points you mention are more from the 60's, not the 50's; which seems to be Buchannan's point. Pat thinks the 50's were good and things started to go to hell in the 60's. In many ways he was right, in other ways like civil rights, he was wrong.

Whatever. Some things were better, some things were worse back then.

To expand on my snark:... (Below threshold)
Robin Goodfellow:

To expand on my snark:

The American era that Buchanan describes is very much the era that my parents' generation grew up and came of age in. I have heard many stories, good and bad, from my parents, their friends, and contemporaries, I believe I have a half-way decent understanding of the era and I do not believe it is an era I want to live in. Aside from the widespread racial and gender inequalities (which was no small thing); violence was rampant in schools; physical, emotional, and sexual abuse in the home was commonplace; date rape was all but tolerated in practice; communities were fairly isolated and intolerant of outsiders; poverty was endemic; public health was troublesome; quality, high-paying jobs were hard to come by; etc. I also remember that my maternal grandmother had a 6th grade education, and this was far from abnormal for her generation (the generation which was working, voting, and running the country at the time). And, of course, there was the fact that despite America's so-called "network of alliances that girdled the globe" the Cold War had not been won yet and was, to everyone's observation, a very real question as to who would, or should, win. It was an era when global thermonuclear war never seemed more likely nor more immenent before or since. It was an era where technological competition between the Soviets and the west appeared to be at a stalemate, with more than a few people believing that the Soviets had a distinct advantage (they were the first to get into orbit, for example). It was an era when many countries of the world decided that Communism and alliance with the Soviets was a good choice. It was an era that consumed tens of thousands of American lives on battlefields in Korea, Vietnam, and elsewhere (not to mention the many times greater number of lives of civilians killed, wounded, or otherwise adversely affected by these wars).

Nostalgists always elide the ugly bits. When any era is treated such it can make it sound like utopia, but it is anything but the truth. The modern era may not be perfect, but there are more than a few elements of comparison in which it is demonstrably better than the era Buchanan fantasizes about.

Cheap shot city. The Neocon... (Below threshold)

Cheap shot city. The Neocons are terrified of Buchanan. How do I know this? As soon as his new book hit number one on Amazon, they bring out Linda Chavez to write a column blasting his book. What they don't tell you is that Ms Chavez has long sat on the Board of Directors of a Janitorial firm that hires thousands of illegal aliens.

Face it folks, Buchanan is right about the War in Iraq and the illegal alien invasion.

Les, you describe the '60s ... (Below threshold)
Robin Goodfellow:

Les, you describe the '60s and the '50s as if they were completely and utterly detached from one another. It would be akin to saying the 1930s in Europe and the 1940s in Europe had no connection either. The tumult of the '60s in the west very much grew out of the developments of the '50s, and the widespread disaffection with the status quo that had been developing at the time. More over, the civil rights struggle which brought America to the brink of civil war started not in the '60s but in the '50s. Brown vs. Board of Education was 1954. Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus in 1955. The use of National Guard troops to forcibly desegregate public schools happened in 1958.

Also, saying "some things were better, some things were worse" is a null statement, that is generally always true when comparing any situation to any other.

"Posted by: Jim Addison at ... (Below threshold)

"Posted by: Jim Addison at August 24, 2006 03:22 AM "

Sure Buckley defended Pat against the charge of antisemitism by voting for him 2 weeks later. As for William Safire, he wrote in the closing weeks of the 1992 that George HW Bush was anti-semitic. The charge of anti-semitism just doesn't hold much water anymore. It's more or less NeoCons trying to shutup people they don't agree with.

In the 1950s and 1960s you'... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

In the 1950s and 1960s you'd be openly referred to as a n*gger who can't vote or stay in a hotel or eat in the white man's diner or pee in the white public bathroom or drink from the white drinking fountain. If you tried, you could be lynched by an angry mob of your white peers as hundreds of defiant but unfortunate blacks discovered. Buchanan has one salient point: Today, the success of our system is being overwhelmed by illegal aliens. His and Christian Francis W. Porretto recollections of American history are highly selective and humorously devoid of minority perspective.

And so what is to be said of today's illegal Hispanics having no status like the blacks before the civil rights movement? The dems want to maintain their untouchable status. Ugly.

Ahh, we see the crude under... (Below threshold)

Ahh, we see the crude underbelly of 'modern' American liberal thinking:

"...the Cold War had not been won yet and was, to everyone's observation, a very real question as to who would, or should, win. It was an era when many countries of the world decided that Communism and alliance with the Soviets was a good choice."

Yes, communist utopia. I can hardly wait.

Of course now we know that M.A.D. is not something to fear from the Soviets, just a nuke popping off from any old jihadist will do. If that's not enough, instead of an old fashioned bomb, we can die slowly and painfully from chemical or biological weapons.

We have a class of people in this country that want Constitutional protections for illegals, or foreign combatants, but not for our own troops.

We have an impotent government, shackled by partisan mudfights and campaign trail grandstanding. The total lack of respect between our elected officials (and the media) is emulated by the populace in general.

The U.N. is a defunct organization, unable to to anything about the very real and grave threats in the world. We have at least two very dangerous and unchecked regimes growing more dangerous and more unchecked.

All this and the libs seem to only care about whether or not they can marry a person of the same sex.

Yes, these times a just great.

On the poverty issue. There is a difference between being poor and being a dirtbag. As my Mom used to say, 'we didn;t have a pot to piss in' we were so poor. But we had pride in ourselves and a positive outlook for the future. We made something of ourselves. We didn;t live in our own filth and sit around waiting for the government to give us a handout.

Francis W. Parreto has tack... (Below threshold)

Francis W. Parreto has tackled a difficult subject, summarizing decades worth of history in a few paragraphs and gets it mostly right. My girlfriend and her family and her large circle of friends are all first and second generation immigrants from Brazil, Mexico and Argentina. They didn't immigrate here in the 40's and 50's because America was more racist, more dangerous and had less opportunities than their native countries. Lately , however, more and more of their relatives, when given the opportuity to immigrate legally to the United States, have decided to stay put.

Red Fog said:"very y... (Below threshold)

Red Fog said:
"very young minorities drafted by the thousands to die in Vietnam"

The actual numbers of fatalities in Vietnam show that blacks did not die out of proportion to their percentage in the population. At the time the black population was younger and had more draft age men than the other ethnic groups. You can read the facts in Larry Elders book, "The Ten Things you can't say in America".

"The country I grew up in w... (Below threshold)

"The country I grew up in was culturally united, even if it was racially divided"

What an assinine comment. There are some things you can't merely gloss over to make your point. It reminds of when pimp/crackhead/DC Mayor Marion Barry said that if you took away all of the murders, DC had one of the lowest crime rates in the country.

You can't just overlook murder and you can't poo poo segregation. It's just that simple.

tyree,I didn't say b... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

I didn't say black draftees died out of proportion to the rest of the population although I can see it being interpreted that way. Thank you for the clarification. I fell short of saying non-college-bound poor kids paid the price in Vietnam and black kids were a part of that tragically sacrificed lot. I would assume, although it may be a myth, that a disproportionate group of upper middle class white college-bound kids with names like Biff never got the call.


Robin:"Les, you desc... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"Les, you describe the '60s and the '50s as if they were completely and utterly detached from one another."

Actually, I didn't describe them at all; though I will say the 60's marked a lot of big changes. When the 50's ended, an era ended.

" More over, the civil rights struggle which brought America to the brink of civil war started not in the '60s but in the '50s. Brown vs. Board of Education was 1954. Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus in 1955. The use of National Guard troops to forcibly desegregate public schools happened in 1958."

The big, society-shaking changes for civil rights happened in the 60's. Of course they had their seeds in the past but they really exploded in the 60's.

"Also, saying "some things were better, some things were worse" is a null statement, that is generally always true when comparing any situation to any other."

It was meant to be a bland statement because I don't really have a dog in this fight. I just meant to try to give some perspective to the extremely polarizing Pat Buchanan issue.
When he says something intelligent it brings out the rabid defenders and detractors.
When he says something asinine it brings out the rabid defenders and detractors.
Just mentioning his name brings out the rabid defenders and detractors.

Frankly, I don't like him much (but I don't disagree with some of his arguments)so I just don't overly care what he says.

When it comes to Pat, I say, to everyone ' Lighten up, Francis'.

Red Fog...I figured ... (Below threshold)

Red Fog...
I figured that was your angle, but I wasn't sure. One of the "modern" improvments over the "good old days" in my book would be the all volunteer military. The Vietnam era draft was not handled well.

It is easy for us here in 2... (Below threshold)

It is easy for us here in 2006 to take a look back at life in the U.S. in the time of Ike and take whatever messages we wish. And as with all things political, where you stand depends on where you sit.

Some on here look back and see Jim Crow going strong, while others note that it was 50 years ago that Jim Crow was beginning to get Federal Notice, with the initial shot being fired successfully in Brown v. Board of Education.

I would like to think that we can see beyond the sepia tones of memory for what the true tone and timber of the time was underneath. The nation was, largely, at peace domestically in 1956. The basic underpinnings of the communities of the day - even the poorer communities - were education, church, and family. And as anyone with a three-legged stool knows, when one or more of the legs gets loose or shaky, the stool becomes a lot more unstable - as was aptly demonstrated with LBJ's misbegotten war on families via the Great Society.

It is unfortunate that Buchanan's most eloquent and salient points regarding illegal immigration and the true danger that it poses to this nation are going to be rhetorically erased in favor of discussions about whether ole Pat harkens happily back to the days of the KKK roaming free in the Mississippi Delta.

Blind squirrels finding nuts and all that, ya know?...

First, the fact that rich w... (Below threshold)

First, the fact that rich white kids didn't go to VietNam is a moonbat myth. They were many of the officers, and did not have to be drafted, they volunteered.

Second, the images of widespread lynchings is another lefty looney-tune to make 'whitey' out to be the bad guy. Sure, these horrible acts were reprehensible. But if you look at the sheer number of deaths, from racially charged gang violence today, it doesn't even come close.

You can't change the past, but you sure can screw up the future with a skewed perspective of it.

LJD,So, help me with... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

So, help me with the moonbate myths here. Do you have data supporting Vietnam-era recruits from white upper middle class families or are you just speculating? The kids I remember being drafted were poor and not college bound. I don't think that is a moonbat myth.

Regarding lynchings, are you saying gang death rates are higher than all historical lynchings and therefore our lives are worse right now? Do you have stats and a point here???

You can't change the past, but you sure can screw up the future with a skewed perspective of it.

Your ascertion: Many white rich kid commanded poor kids in Vietnam and recent gang deaths out number historic lynchings. Show me the proof and then tell me how that skews my perspective, friend.

Keep in mind that lynchings and Harvard-educated Officer Biff ordering 10s of 1000s of low-income draftee to die in jungle boobie traps are forms of terror whilst gang murder and dead soldiers are just tragic. There's a big societal psychological difference ...

Hmmm.Seems to be q... (Below threshold)


Seems to be quite a few myths out there.


But Mr. Kolb and other experts say the widespread idea that the Army in Vietnam was made up mostly of draftees is incorrect. In fact, only 25 percent of all American forces in Vietnam were draftees, compared with 66 percent in World War II....

Among the many myths of Vietnam that persist today, experts say, is that it was a war fought by poor and black Americans, who died in greater proportions than whites.

Although that was true in the early stages of the American ground war, in 1965 and 1966, when there were large numbers of blacks in frontline combat units, Army and Marine Corps commanders later took steps to reassign black servicemen to other jobs to equalize deaths, according to Col. Harry G. Summers Jr. in "Vietnam War Almanac."

By the end of the war, African-Americans had suffered 12.5 percent of the total deaths in Vietnam, 1 percentage point less than their proportion in the overall population, Colonel Summers wrote.

Servicemen from states in the South had the highest rate of battlefield deaths, 31 per 100,000 of the region's population, Mr. Kolb found. Soldiers from states in the Northeast had the lowest rates, 23.5 deaths per 100,000.

Since the end of the draft, that geographic skew on the battlefield has extended to the services as a whole. The percentages of people from the Northeast and Midwest have dropped, while the proportion from the West has climbed and from the South has skyrocketed - even after accounting for southward and westward population shifts in society at large. For the year ending Sept. 30, 2000, 42 percent of all recruits came from the South.

Over all, Mr. Kolb said, 76 percent of the soldiers in Vietnam were from working-class or lower-income families, while only 23 percent had fathers in professional, managerial or technical occupations.

The disparity created by the Vietnam draft can be seen on the walls of Memorial Hall and Memorial Church at Harvard University, where the names of Harvard students and alumni who died for their country are inscribed. There were 200 Harvard students killed in the Civil War and 697 in World War II, but only 22 in Vietnam....

1. The military has always been a career path for people in poor or rural settings. It was for my father, my uncles and myself.

2. I believe the South had, at that time, not only the poor and the rural aspects that would encourage people to join the military but also a long tradition of military service as it was, and is, seen as an honorable profession.

3. Only a fraction of the US military actually served in Vietnam since the US was enmeshed in the Cold War and had many other military obligations that needed to be filled.

4. In case this is necessary: I didn't serve in Vietnam because I was 8 years old when it ended.

Hard to live up to the cons... (Below threshold)

Hard to live up to the consequences of your socialist agenda, huh?

YOU do the research, my proof won't alter your misperceptions. Census data I found 17,700 homicides in one year. You show 1,800 lynchings at the peak. It is widely reported that young minority men are more vulnerable to a violent death than others, so I would bet good money more than 10% are as such. This the result your failed entitlement programs and totally BS propaganda.

More leftist propaganda: that kids 18-21 and minorities lead those dying in Iraq. Makes a sensational story, but patently untrue. While males, well over the age of 21, and many in their 30s and 40s, are making this sacrifice for their country.

BTW, I am a college educated, middle class, white male, that volunteered for enlisted service in a combat unit of the U.S. Army.

ed,Fascinating.... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:


We got muddled somewhere. I'm no socialist. I appreciate your service in the U.S. Army. Blacks have made great gains in rights and freedoms but, I believe, a lack of black leadership, the crack epidemic, and heavy reliance on social programs have resulted in disenfranchised and utterly uneducated black males slaughtering each other on the streets today. Lynchings are unrelated.

[email protected] Red Fog... (Below threshold)


@ Red Fog

1. *shrug* Frankly I think it's more of a "little bit right, a little bit wrong" type situation. The 1950's really depended on where you lived and in what economic class. Since we're talking about the emergence of television as a naional unifying force, provincialism was a lot bigger back then.

Plus the interstate highways system wasn't authorized until 1956. So the system of roads available for interstate travel wasn't as comprehensive as it is now. Nor was commerical jet flight that big a deal then, so fast trans-national travel wasn't a simple thing.

So the 1950's really depended on where you were, and how you lived. Or at least that's my opinion.

2. Personally the single biggest tragedy of the 1960's wasn't JFK, RFK, Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis or even the Vietnam War.

It was the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King.

I can't help but think that there would be far fewer racial parasites in the black communities had he lived. And I think it's a given that race relations would be much farther along than they are now.

Then again if Booker T. Washington's views had triumphed over W.E.B. Dubois's self-destructive socialist agenda then the black community wouldn't be the train wreck it is now.

@ edI love this pa... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

@ ed

I love this part "The disparity created by the Vietnam draft can be seen on the walls of Memorial Hall and Memorial Church at Harvard University, where the names of Harvard students and alumni who died for their country are inscribed. There were 200 Harvard students killed in the Civil War and 697 in World War II, but only 22 in Vietnam...."

Now that the recruiters have been ordered off the Haaaarvard campus, I doubt any of those elitist liberal rich kids are volunteering.

I'm there with you on travel/demographic experiences and the profound unknown tragedy of MLK's assasination.

Wait a minute ..... Eureka! .... If a clever officer could just recruit Snoop Dog into the Army Dawg Pound like what was done with Elvis, all those bone thugs would be signing up to fight a war worth winning! Chime in Moonbats.






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