Rush Limbaugh

Black people are responsible for financial collapse of the city of Detroit and likewise the Democrats want to do the same to America, Rush Limbaugh claimed this week.

The conservative pundit, who's making increasingly controversial claims as his show's distribution falls, suggested it was the black population of Detroit that caused the 'white flight' from the urban center to suburbia, ultimately leading to the city's financial collapse.

That's quite a charge, it's also quite a bit of historical revisionism.

The records actually show the white population of Detroit had already declined by 1.3 million between 1960 and 1967, long before the famous riots in July of 1967.

Limbaugh didn't factor this into his thesis. When facts don't fit your thesis, I suppose you can omit them.

Speaking to Fox News' Greta Van Susteren, Limbaugh instead insisted that the civil rights protests in the '60s caused white residents to flee. Limbaugh said Detroit's first African-American Mayor Coleman Young was largely to blame for causing the unrest in 1967.

But Young didn't become mayor of the city until 1974, although Limbaugh squarely handed him the blame. Neither did Young support widespread welfare policies or the 'massive pensions' that Limbaugh said are the Democrats hallmark.

In fact in the 1970's and 1980's Young was credited with keeping Detroit financially solvent 'by persuading city workers to accept cuts in salaries and fringe benefits and voters to approve a $96 million increase in income taxes.'

He was not at all the 'tax and spend' liberal that Limbaugh would like him to be.

Records also show the first signs of trouble for the city's automobile industry came in 1956, when they first saw a minor slump in their sales while the more compact and fuel efficient European and Japanese import sales doubled.

Gas shortages in the 1970's added to a new awareness of the problems of air pollution, safety, and fuel economy. After the second oil crisis in 1979, the rapid rise in gasoline prices soured America’s love affair with the gas guzzling automobile. In the interim the Japanese had consistently created more attractive and fuel efficient consumer products, undercutting Detroit's competitiveness.

But Limbaugh blamed the Democrats, not the big three car manufactures.

'Detroit is left with nothing but liberal Democrats running it,' he said, claiming the Michigan city is a 'petri dish of everything the Democrat Party stands for,' with it's unions, pension and health care for workers after they retire.

Census data from 2010 shows 83% of Detroit's total population is black — the highest percentage of African-Americans for any U.S. city.

They've always had a rough ride in Detroit. Even at the height of World War II, when the defense industries brought in large numbers of people with high wages to Detroit, many of the white locals at the time saw them as threatening their jobs, homes, communities, and churches.

In 1943, the Packard Motor Car Company promoted three blacks to work next to whites in the assembly lines. 25,000 whites walked off the job in response, even slowing down the critical war production to make their point.

Whites who worked with blacks in the same plant refused to work side-by-side with them. During the protest, a voice in the loudspeaker commented, 'I’d rather see Hitler and Hirohito win than work next to a ni--er.'

Limbaugh had nothing to say about the city's history of racism. Instead he insisted the Democrats need and foster 'a permanent underclass.' There's nothing like deciding to discriminate and then blaming your discrimination on the person who's equality you will not acknowledge.

To be clear, the city's decline was part of the larger failure of the city's automobile industry. But who needs facts when it's more profitable to demagogue?