In October 2009 a black teenager was beaten to death on the south side of Chicago. This event, all too common in Chicago and elsewhere in America’s cities, brought much hand wringing and calls for reform in the black community. The same cries for change have been coming from the same corners for decades, yet nothing changes, and the problem only seems more entrenched.
I wrote about this back in January, lamenting that modern liberals refuse to see that the breakdown of the black family is the cause of crime in America’s inner cities.
Allow me to quote myself:
Empirical data cannot break through the ossified ideology of the committed leftist. It is tragic, sickening and heartbreaking. Forty plus years of evidence means nothing to these people. Back in the early 80s when Barack Obama started his community organizer career, a young Chicago basketball star was gunned down in cold blood. The same hand wringing, angry meetings, community frustration and local government promises to do something went on then as today when poor Derrion Albert was clubbed to death. As long as the modern liberal worldview is pervasive in those communities and among their leaders, 30 years from now we will see the same lament.
Maybe I was wrong. Well, not in the sense of this pernicious worldview contributing to death and destruction, but wrong in thinking that the evidence and continuing carnage will never break through the stubborn blindness of our friends on the left side of the political/cultural divide. Just maybe . . . .
So I was pleasantly surprised when I read a New York Times piece by Bob Herbert, a liberal in good standing, that took on the truth that is not allowed to speak its name. Yes, the demise of the two parent intact family in the black community has been a catastrophe for young blacks, especially young black males. He takes this head on:
The first and most important step would be a major effort to begin knitting the black family back together. There is no way to overstate the myriad risks faced by children whose parents have effectively abandoned them. It’s the family that protects the child against ignorance and physical harm, that offers emotional security and the foundation for a strong sense of self, that enables a child to believe — truly — that wonderful things are possible.
All of that is missing in the lives of too many black children. . . .
Black men need to be in the home, providing for their children.
I suppose it’s expecting too much for him to mention the “M” word, which of course is marriage—his buddies in the club might give him the Juan Williams treatment—but he does say, “Let the message go out that walking down the aisle carries with it great responsibilities but can also be great fun.” And of course he does mean two people of the opposite gender walking down the aisle, because it is the family and the rearing of children that makes civilization possible, as the breakdown of the black family shows so starkly and so sadly.
Probably beginning from the time of the French Revolution, a certain portion of the West’s intellectual elites have been at war with what we call traditional values, or those values informed by the Judeo-Christian heritage. You can read any number of books by Gertrude Himmelfarb to see the long march of the intellectual rebellion against the Judeo-Christian order of things. It took well over a hundred years for these pernicious ideas to bubble up in popular American and Western culture and permeate the lifestyles of average citizens. That we all know started in the 1960s.
For a time there was a popular intellectual war against the family and what was derisively called “patriarchy”. Feminism flourished in its not so hidden enmity against the nuclear family. Popular culture has been rife with portrayals of the supposedly deadening influence of the family (e.g. American Beauty). Yet sometime in the early 90s the sociological evidence became so overwhelming that the breakdown of the family was a very bad thing for children and thus for society that it could no longer be ignored. But when the secular left could no longer credibly claim the family was a bad thing, they just ignored it anyway.
Thus for the last 30 years as the black inner city has disintegrated the modern liberal response has been to suggest every kind of solution but a healthy two parent family with an engaged father. Children need and crave a father who is a strong leader, a teacher, moral guide and example of a life well lived. They don’t need perfection; just a father, and obviously mother, who care and are engaged in their lives. Over 70% of black children don’t have this, and the percentage is even higher in the inner city.
There is no easy answer to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, but as all alcoholics know the first step is admitting there is a problem. Let us hope that Mr. Herbert’s call for “knitting the black family back together” again is a wake-up call to others of like mind.