The Corner

U.S.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s False Statement about the Civil Rights Act

Continuing in her relentless career of not knowing things, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in the course of making an grotesque implicit comparison of herself with the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., advised the noted scholar Stephen Colbert that important activism is bound to be unpopular. She said: “If you think activism is inherently divisive — I mean, today is Martin Luther King Day. People called Martin Luther King divisive in his time. We forget he was wildly unpopular when advocating for the Civil Rights Act.”

No.

As a matter of fact, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — and the people supporting it — were pretty popular in their time. From Pew Research:

A Gallup poll in October 1964 reported that the public approved of the new law by nearly two-to-one (58% to 31%). And in April 1965, Gallup found a whopping 76% in favor of a then-proposed equal rights voting law.

What’s more, following the events in Selma:

By a 48% to 21% margin, a Harris poll in May 1965 found its respondents saying they sided more with the civil rights groups involved than with the state of Alabama.

King himself polled pretty well during his advocacy of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with his favorable ratings reliably outpacing his unfavorable ratings. That changed toward the end of his life, when King took a more radical turn on economic issues, with that loose talk about “democratic socialism.”

Which is to say: King was in reality far from “wildly unpopular” when he was working for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and for the more general cause of desegregating public institutions. He grew unpopular when he starting indulging the kind of batty tomfoolery with which Representative Ocasio-Cortez associates herself.

Those are facts worth knowing.

In other news, the Solon of the Bronx also insisted that the world is going to end in 12 years because of climate change. As I like to do when encountering such predictions, I will happily offer the representative a substantial wager on the question.

Most Popular

White House

More Evidence the Guardrails Are Gone

At the end of last month, just as the news of the Ukraine scandal started dominating the news cycle, I argued that we're seeing evidence that the guardrails that staff had placed around Donald Trump's worst instincts were in the process of breaking down. When Trump's staff was at its best, it was possible to draw ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Elizabeth Warren Is Not Honest

If you want to run for office, political consultants will hammer away at one point: Tell stories. People respond to stories. We’ve been a story-telling species since our fur-clad ancestors gathered around campfires. Don’t cite statistics. No one can remember statistics. Make it human. Make it relatable. ... Read More
National Review

Farewell

Today is my last day at National Review. It's an incredibly bittersweet moment. While I've only worked full-time since May, 2015, I've contributed posts and pieces for over fifteen years. NR was the first national platform to publish my work, and now -- thousands of posts and more than a million words later -- I ... Read More
Economy & Business

Andrew Yang, Snake Oil Salesman

Andrew Yang, the tech entrepreneur and gadfly, has definitely cleared the bar for a successful cause candidate. Not only has he exceeded expectations for his polling and fundraising, not only has he developed a cult following, not only has he got people talking about his signature idea, the universal basic ... Read More
World

Is America Becoming Sinicized?

A little over 40 years ago, Chinese Communist strongman and reformer Deng Xiaoping began 15 years of sweeping economic reforms. They were designed to end the disastrous, even murderous planned economy of Mao Zedong, who died in 1976. The results of Deng’s revolution astonished the world. In four decades, ... Read More