That is the gist of this excellent article from the American Greatness blog.

An excerpt.

When the great Thomas Sowell retired from writing commentary in 2016, he wrapped up his farewell column this way:

With all the advances of blacks over the years, nothing so brought home to me the social degeneration in black ghettoes like a visit to a Harlem high school some years ago.

When I looked out the window at the park across the street, I mentioned that, as a child, I used to walk my dog in that park. Looks of horror came over the students’ faces, at the thought of a kid going into the hell hole which that park had become in their time.

When I have mentioned sleeping out on a fire escape in Harlem during hot summer nights, before most people could afford air-conditioning, young people have looked at me like I was a man from Mars. But blacks and whites alike had been sleeping out on fire escapes in New York since the 19th century. They did not have to contend with gunshots flying around during the night.

Sowell grew up in Harlem in the late 1930s and 1940s. I grew up in Houston in the late 1950s and 1960s. Like Sowell, I can tell of some carefree practices that would seem strange now.

Houston was a segregated city back then, but already a very large one. Yet my parents gave me the run of the town. They let me take the bus to the central library and the downtown movie palaces, and after I showed I could handle a bicycle safely in traffic, they let me ride it through all kinds of neighborhoods to distant record stores and hobby shops. It never occurred to them to be afraid of what some nogoodnik might do to me.

The only thing approaching violence I encountered was when a black kid pegged me with a BB gun from a half-block away. When the pellet bounced off my head, I just thought, “That’s pretty good shooting,” and kept on riding. Getting shot with a BB gun was no big deal; my brother had been shot in the belly, at close range, which really hurt, but the only repercussion was that we scratched the dumb redneck who shot him from our list of playmates.

What suburban family would let their boy run loose in a city the size of Houston today? This long-vanished nonchalance prevailed not only among Harlem’s poor and Houston’s middle class, but among the rich as well. Look at the older silk-stocking districts of any American city. What won’t you see surrounding them? Security gates. Rich, poor, or in-between, Americans once upon a time lived without fear of their neighbors.

Only a decade after I rambled around on a bicycle, Houston became a playground for one of the worst serial killers ever, a man who with two accomplices abducted, raped, tortured, and murdered at least 28 boys from 1970 until 1973.

Why are we not intent on undoing the social and legal changes that let such evil flourish?

Sowell’s column closed with these words:

We cannot return to the past, even if we wanted to, but let us hope that we can learn something from the past to make for a better present and future. Goodbye and good luck to all.

For many months now, I’ve been challenging Donald Trump to make good his promise that “the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon—and I mean very soon—come to an end.” So far, no chorus of readers, pundits, politicians and citizens has risen to press forward that cause, and the reason may be that most Americans today are too young to remember how things were before crime assumed its present dimensions. Let us therefore “learn something from the past to make for a better present and future.” Let us recall not only what we once had in the way of law and order, but how what we had was lost.

Consider just one aspect of the problem: the revolution in criminal justice imposed on us by the U.S. Supreme Court under the leadership of Chief Justice Earl Warren.

When historian Stephen Ambrose asked former President Eisenhower to name his biggest mistake, Ike “replied heatedly, ‘The appointment of that S.O.B. Earl Warren.’ Shocked, I replied, ‘General, I always thought that was your best appointment.’ ‘Let’s not talk about it,’ he responded, and we did not.” Later, Ambrose read the “flattering and thoughtful references” to Warren in Eisenhower’s diary, and concluded that his anger at Warren resulted from the “criminal rights” cases of the 1960s, not the civil rights cases of the 1950s.

Eisenhower was hardly alone in his anger. The most controversial ruling of Warren’s tenure wasn’t Brown v. Board of Education, which the court decided on a unanimous vote in 1954. It wasn’t even the edicts against prayer and Bible readings in public school, although those raised quite a stink and in their own way may have contributed to the subsequent crime explosion. The Warren Court’s most controversial ruling, in fact, was Miranda v. Arizona (1966), the 5-4 decision that imposed on police a duty to inform a suspect of his rights before questioning him, and let the most red-handed culprit get away with the most heinous crimes if police didn’t follow procedure.

Bear in mind that Miranda didn’t create the right to remain silent. Decades before, the court had barred third-degree interrogation, the principal means of trampling that right, with no harmful effect on law enforcement. Miranda broke new ground, and its results were new, too. New, but not improved.

Writing for the court, Warren acknowledged, “the modern practice of in-custody interrogation is psychologically rather than physically oriented.” He took note of the methods prescribed by advanced police manuals and textbooks for getting around a suspect’s defenses. For example, interrogators would pretend to see things the suspect’s way. “The officers are instructed to minimize the moral seriousness of the offense, to cast blame on the victim or on society.”

Warren complained that if the suspect didn’t warm to such treatment and instead insisted on his constitutional right to say nothing at all, then the manuals advised the examiner to “concede him the right to remain silent” but to “point out the incriminating significance of the suspect’s refusal to talk.” Thus by “patience and persistence,” officers managed to draw many suspects out, eliciting alibis that wouldn’t hold up, to be followed by incriminating admissions hedged by excuses and understatement, with a complete confession frequently the end result.

Retrieved April 15, 2018 from