On Guns, Obama Finally Talks About the Culture of Fatherlessness
President Barack Obama said it recently in Chicago, a city on track for 600 murders this year, the equivalent of two Sandy Hooks per month. Too bad he still does not understand that his left-wing ideology is the problem.
After the Sandy Hook tragedy, Obama, much of his party and much of the media have been calling for further gun control and advocating “common sense” measures such as limiting the number of rounds in a magazine, “universal” background checks and restrictions on “assault weapons.”
But there is an 800-pound politically incorrect elephant in the room.
Most gun murders in America are committed by people of color, with the victims almost always people of color. Whites have the same access to firearms, listen to the same “urban” music and play the same violent video games. Why, then, do the murders disproportionally involve racial minorities, principally blacks and Hispanics, usually young men in urban settings, many with gang ties?
Obama, in Chicago, finally talked about the lack of fathers and the impact this has on crime rather than complain about the number of rounds in a magazine: “For a lot of young boys and young men in particular, they don’t see an example of fathers or grandfathers, uncles, who are in a position to support families and be held up in respect. And so that means that this is not just a gun issue; it’s also an issue of the kinds of communities that we’re building. When a child opens fire on another child, there is a hole in that child’s heart that government can’t fill. Only community and parents and teachers and clergy can fill that hole.”
He offers no alternative. Why would he? That would require a wholesale rethinking of the welfare state and of the perverse incentives that work against the interests of the very people the left claims to care about.
Perverse incentives? Columnist Walter Williams said that census data from 1890 to 1940 show that blacks were slightly more: likely than whites to marry, and therefore their children were also more likely to be in a two-parent household. During the Great Depression, “going on the dole” was considered shameful, only done as a dire necessity of last resort after first seeking help from friends, family, churches and charities.
But by the ’60s, government workers went door-to-door in urban communities and elsewhere urging unmarried mothers to sign up for benefits, thus “marrying” the government. Almost 75 percent of today’s black children are born outside of wedlock, as are 53 percent of Hispanics and 29 percent of non-Hispanic whites. As recently as 1963 — five decades ago — those numbers for blacks were 23.6 percent. As for whites at that time, fewer than 3 percent were born outside of wedlock.
By 1965 — just two years later — out-of-wedlock births by black women had increased to 28 percent. By 1970, it had jumped to 38 percent. In the ’80s, it rose to 50 percent, and by the ’90s, the black out-of-wedlock birthrate exceeded 70 percent.
What to do?
We know that government welfare damages individual initiative and personal responsibility. After the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, the welfare rolls declined by half! The needy can and should be helped at the state and local level, ideally by nonprofits, religious institutions, self-help organizations and mentors.
A counselor recently wrote me. She asked not to be identified, fearing a backlash because of her condemnation of the bad choices women make in male partners. She argued that if women demanded more of themselves, men would get the message — and they would be forced to behave more responsibly. To do otherwise, she says, is to behave selfishly — for responsible parenting requires selflessness:
“No one is putting a gun to women’s heads and making them have intercourse with unworthy men prior to marriage. It is done willingly, leads to a life from hell and harms everyone involved, even the bum who has no motivation to shape up since he is afforded all the reward a good, respectable, hardworking husband would get without having to be a good, respectable, hardworking husband.
“The term ‘father’ used to be considered synonymous with the man who, in this order, a) courted a woman, b) married a woman, c) impregnated a woman, and d) stayed around for the next 20 years paying the bills, playing catch, disciplining the kids and loving the mom. Now, mere siring or donating sperm to the creation of a kid is called ‘fathering,’ when it’s barely more than breeding. It cheapens the meaning of the word ‘father.’
“Now picture this: If all women, black or white or whatever race, said to black men, ‘No marriage, sex, children or home-cooked food without toil and solid achievement first,’ do you really think any lowered bars that had been established would have stopped black men from achieving the finances and success required for romance? I don’t. They’d be working hard, wanting to get the top score and wanting to outshine others.”
No romance without finance — because dads matter.
Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an “Elderado,” visit: www.LarryElder.com.