AMERICAN NOTES: Proclaiming a Crisis Past

On the radio last week, President Nixon made the surprising declaration that in urban America "the hour of crisis has passed." With that assessment, he brushed aside a decade or more of contentions that the nation's great cities were besieged, impoverished and in danger of decay. To support his official optimism, Nixon cited some cheery generalizations: civil disorders have declined; crime rates have fallen in more than half the major cities; finances have improved; the air is getting cleaner. Every one of those assertions is either partially true or partially misleading.

Racial tensions are not at the flare point of...

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