Last night the wife and I were outside on the deck, listening to the spring peepers while allowing her to decompress from her stressful day as a rural family physician. That often includes brief deprogramming sessions after she listens to NPR on the way home from the practice. During the drive she heard a story about the shooting death of a young black girl in Chicago who had performed at the President’s inauguration. I am lucky to be married to one of the smartest people I’ve ever met who doesn’t realize it, so she already knew that the gang violence behind the murder of Hadiya Pendleton had nothing to do with lawfully owned guns or “gun culture”.
She recognized as an intelligent person and doctor in one of the poorest parts of the country that gun culture isn’t the root of the violence, something else – something that when said leads to knee-jerk charges of racism even though the vast majority of poor patients my wife attends to are white. Douglas Ernst, writing in the comments section at the Colossus of Rhodey, says it best: “I’ve said for quite some time that we don’t have a “gun culture” ... we have a “having kids out-of-wedlock” culture.”
The Wife also happens to have a degree in anthropology. She couldn’t think of any culture that has been studied that allows boys to grow up without fathers or father figures. She believes, and I agree, that raising a boy without the guidance and discipline of an older man in his life is like letting a wild animal loose on the streets. Like stray dogs, these children eventually form into packs and establish a hierarchy of their own, but one parasitic on society instead of contributing to it. The gang takes the place of the father, the grandfather and the uncles.
I come from a broken home myself, but one that was broken by a massive heart attack on the job site. For years I drifted and experimented with things I probably shouldn’t have – and wouldn’t have had my father been around. But I was lucky: I was white and geeky and attending Catholic schools where the only gangs were of the nun or Jesuit variety. Had I been another color and in another place I could easily have ended up differently. Still, growing up without a father made me swear that I would never subject my child to divorce. I even cut out tobacco and later alcohol because I wanted to stay around to provide guidance to my son that I had lacked from the age of 11 onward.
If we want to stop gang violence or the violence of young men that gun down innocents for no reason, then we need to face the reality that there are limits to single parenthood and consequences that are borne by everyone. We have created, and even celebrated the single mom in media even though a child born to a single mother is more likely than any other to be born into poverty. I realize there are good, solid reasons for divorce, but we need to recognize and admit that we are raising a generation of “wild boys” without morals or conscience and then setting them loose into society where they end up in prison, unemployable and marginalized by society before entering an early grave.
A generation ago the fictional character Murphy Brown became pregnant and was lionized by the liberal media elite as a brave example for American women to follow, even though unlike the fictional character most women had a fraction of Brown’s earning power. The family values crowd was pilloried mercilessly for their criticism of the character. Now we have entire cities where the majority of boys are being raised by their mothers, grandmothers and aunts. Maybe, just maybe, the family values crowd was right after all.
Where the family values crowd is wrong, though, is on abortion. After all, single mothers who carry their children to term are lauded by the family values crowd. One would think that society would benefit if these mothers had opted for abortion instead; it’s hard to argue that the world would be a better place had the thugs who gunned down Hadiya Pendleton ended up in a medical waste incinerator. The family values believers would retort that fighting abortion is simply the first step on a path that ends up in marriage and a stable family, but such an argument is hard for me, one of their sympathizers, to understand and find possible in modern society. I simply think we’ve gone too far away from the traditional family to return to it.
Is there anything that could replace it?
There are cultures where the saying “it takes a village to raise a child,” is more than an empty slogan. Some traditional cultures in the Amazon and in Africa live communally and boys are raised by all the men in the village not just their fathers. Similarly in Scandinavia I’ve learned of unrelated people who live in separate apartments but share common spaces such as kitchens and living areas. In such an environment it could be possible for boys to be raised by completely unrelated men. What’s important is not bloodline but that a man serve as a role model for a boy while helping to set expectations and responsibilities for him in the general community to give him a place within it and to create within him a sense of belonging. Such a sense is only found in criminal subcultures today in the US, Russia and other nations suffering from “having kids out-of-wedlock culture,” so it’s worth considering any situation that could make boys into productive men in society.
But first we must recognize our society’s failure, that by encouraging women to have children out of wedlock and brainwashing them into believing them they can raise boys just as well as girls, we have created an entire caste of maladjusted young men who are violent, narcissistic and parasitic. This has nothing to do with race, but it has everything to do with half-baked psychological theories, ill-conceived but often well-intentioned government policies, topped off by a post-feminist culture that views men as a disease that needs to be drugged with Ritalin, predators that must be jailed or helpless oafs to be brainwashed until they are infantilized.