Moynihan Between the Lines

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

A reader comments on the annotated March 1965 report that TNC points to above:

Among other occupations, Moynihan was an academic. His seminal work strikes me as being a way to establish his bona fides in the academic world, and unquestionably he was successful. At the time Moynihan, was a well-known figure in a cottage industry filled with recently minted academics; [I’ve] never thought this group added much to the debates of the time, and less so today. … Essentially, Moynihan’s work was a gambit to have a seat at a table that had no open chairs.

But another reader “couldn’t disagree more,” pointing to a little-known memo our editors just unearthed—a May 4, 1964 memo from Moynihan offering LBJ policy prescriptions related to his upcoming report:

Almost every point made in that Moynihan memo is right on and current today. The clarity of the message is a stark contrast to the muddled, finger-pointing, self-satisfied BS that passes for policy analysis today.

Read it for yourself here. And here is one more supplementary document—an April 20, 1964 memo from Moynihan to the U.S. labor secretary making the case for more aggressive action on behalf of black Americans, nearly a full year before the Moynihan report was complete.

TNC’s cover story is here. Much more debate and discussion to come, via