Nancy MacLean Continues to Baselessly Smear Milton Friedman

by Don Boudreaux on November 19, 2021

in Education, History, Myths and Fallacies

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

Editor:

In pressing her scurrilous charge that Milton Friedman was sympathetic to racial segregation, the fever of Nancy MacLean’s relentlessness is exceeded only by the flimsiness of her argument (Letters, Nov. 19). For example, referring to Phil Magness’s October 19th WSJ essay on “School Choice’s Antiracist History,” she calls “stunning” Magness’s failure to mention that Friedman “published his case for [school] vouchers at the very moment the South’s archsegregationist officials were threatening public education (in 1955).”

What’s so stunning? Brown v. Board of Education was decided the year before, thus prompting racists to peddle schemes to maintain segregation. Friedman and other classical liberals then responded by promoting school choice as a means not only of improving the quality of schools, but also of promoting greater integration – which is what Friedman explicitly predicted, and hoped, would be the result of vouchers.

What is stunning is MacLean’s failure to mention not only this fact about Friedman, but also his statement that “[i]f one must choose between the evils of enforced segregation or enforced integration, I myself would find it impossible not to choose integration.”*

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

* Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962), page 117.

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