Bashing Charles Murray is all the rage since the publication of his book, Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010. Charles Pierce manages to swat Murray and David Brooks with one stroke, while Adam Serwer gets Murray and the American Enterprise Institute with another.
But it’s such overkill. This month, I got Charles Murray as the Cracker Jacks prize in my copy of Imprimis, the magazine produced by Hillsdale College, and mailed to me faithfully every 30 days for over a decade despite the lack of any indication whatsoever that I belong to that tribe.
And Murray does not disappoint. The article he writes, “Do We Need a Department of Education?” is so historically illiterate that the only place that would publish it is… Hillsdale College.
Take the claim that education is not a constitutional function, and that the Framers could not have possibly thought that Congress should get involved because it is not enumerated in Art. I Sec. 8. It’s historically-illiterate baloney, of course, which (after throwing up a giant smokescreen) Murray tacitly admits by saying he’s in the minority on this [fn 1].
Next, Murray asks whether there are any serious problems in education that can only be solved on the federal level. Murray admits that segregation did create a case for federal intervention. He claims that the first major federal spending on education was triggered by Sputnik, which is easily proven false by, well, looking at the facts [fn2] if not also by looking at Murray, who also says that it was in 1965 (eight years after Sputnik) that spending really increased [fn 3], but he contends that the increase in spending justified by desegregation no longer serves a purpose, which is an idiotic argument [fn 4].
Next, Murray asks what the federal track record is. This is not a very smart question and Murray admits that the feds did not cause a decline in educational achievement nor prevent a rise in it [fn 5].
Murray says that “The bachelor of arts degree as it has evolved over the last half-century has become the work of the devil.” [fn 6]
Murray says, contrafactually, that the only positive developments in education have been home schooling and charter schools [fn 7].
In short, the only thing that’s newsworthy about Charles Murray is that anyone pays any attention to him. He’s a fraud who doesn’t even know basic American history, misrepresents and misuses statistics, and lies.
Could be a VP candidate, mebbe.
(Click to read the footnotes)
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