Cancelling Jesus

Yesterday, I wrote about the destruction of statues of American leaders—the destruction of American history.  My position is that tearing down virtually any statue—Confederate, Union, Theodore Roosevelt, etc.—is the untenable erasure of our nation’s history.  Further, the historic illiteracy of the woke SJWs has seen the defenestration of statues of abolitionists—an absurdity for groups that claim to be fighting against the legacy of slavery.

In that context, I made a big deal about the toppling of a statue of Abraham Lincoln.  Lincoln has assumed something of a demigod status in American history, one that glosses over some of the thorny issues of how to respond to the secession of the Southern States (a real question at the time was, having opted into the Constitution, could States later opt out; for a good biographical read on that issue, check out “A Voice of Reason” by John Marquardt at the Abbeville Institute).  Lincoln was certainly a man with many noble qualities, and a keen constitutional mind.  The toppling of his statues is the height of insanity—or nearly so.

In my haste, I neglected the even more egregious calls to destroy statues and stained glass windows depicting The most important Figure in world historyJesus Christ.

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Dignity

One element of the riots that’s struck me particularly hard is the utter lack of dignity, not just of the looters, but of the elites that would enable them.

An image that burns in my brain is that of Webster, Massachusetts Police Chief Michael Shaw lying face down in a show of “solidarity” with Black Lives Matter protesters.  Around him sit several protesters, casually drinking in a law enforcement officials public humiliation.  Chief Shaw did this voluntarily, allegedly, albeit as a crowd chanted for him to lie down.

It’s ritual spectacle for the Leftist mob, and grace on the cheap for Shaw.  Rather than preserve his dignity and that of his position, he gave himself to the raucous crowd.

But it will not mollify the Left for long.  Even as protesters cheered and thanked the chief for his humiliation, one demonstrator, according to Fox News, said, “It’s not enough, but it’s a start!”

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Disorder

It’s been a scary week in the United States as the nation’s cities engage in an orgy of violence and looting in reaction to the death of George Floyd.  From all accounts, it seems that Floyd’s death was unwarranted, but my experience with these situations is that more evidence quietly appears after the fact that breaks down the “gentle giant” narrative (see also: Ahmed Arbury, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, etc., etc., etc.).

Regardless, the reaction from blacks and white Leftists is completely reprehensible and evil.  One man’s (allegedly) unjustified death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer does not justify a week of pillaging and death.

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Trump Has Soul

President Trump may be embattled amid the impeachment witch trial, but at least he “is the blackest president we have ever had.” That’s according to Antwon Williams, a lovably chubby black man. It’s a title that’s even better than President Clinton’s (care of Toni Morrison) anointing as “America’s First Black President.”

Williams credited President Trump’s “realness” with his honorary title of “The Blackest President.” He also argues that his family is better off under President Trump. Per Mr. Williams, c/o Infowars:

“Like, dude, he’s helping me and my family. We never owned a house before Trump came into office; now we own a home. I own cars. Our family is doing great, you know? So, the hell with what people say.”

Trump’s policies have certainly helped restore what Gavin McInnes calls America’s “economic libido.” Beyond that, though, it’s easy to see that President Trump has soul.

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Phone it in Friday IV: Conferencing

It’s been a very busy week, and with a slew of lessons and some open mic nighting yesterday—plus an early start this morning—I was unable to get a post written last night to go live this morning.  Further, I attended a teachers’ conference in a city about 90 minutes from my school, so I was unable to sneak in any surreptitious blogging amid sessions.

For tomorrow’s SubscribeStar Saturday post, I’m going to write more about one of the conference sessions I attended, which was about the importance of faculty culture to the functioning of an independent school.  I think it holds within it some important lessons about culture more broadly, and is worth discussing in more detail.

For this evening, though, my time is quite limited, so I thought I would share some general reflections on today’s conference.  I’m scooting off to a very cold pressbox for the evening, from which I’ll be announcing a playoff football game, and getting some hastily-rehearsed singers out onto the field for a brief Veterans’ Day presentation.  When the head of your Board of Directors wants something, he gets it.

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Sailer on Progressive Split

Demographer and statistician Steve Sailer has a piece up at Taki’s Magazine entitled “Bernie vs. Ta-Nehisi,” detailing the major split within modern progressivism between old-school Marxists and social justice warriors.  Naturally, there’s a great deal of overlap between those groups, but Sailer looks at the major wedge between them:  their views on race.

First, let’s define our terms here:  the “old-school Marxists” like Bernie think race is a tool of the upper classes to divide the social classes.  Part of this approach, as Sailer points out, is electoral pragmatism:  align the have-nots against the haves, regardless of race, to maximize voters.  There are more non-rich people than there are rich, so promising Medicare for all and to “soak the rich” Huey Long-style can bribe voters of all stripes.

The other side—what I’ve referred to broadly referred to as the “social justice warriors”—are the ones obsessed with race, and who see racial injustice everywhere.  For Sailer, the symbolic leader of this group is racialist mediocrity Ta-Nehisi Coates, the former blogger made good because white liberals feel good about themselves when reading his rambling essays.

(I imagine it’s a sensation of righteous self-flagellation that isn’t too dangerous or life-altering for the reader:  they get the sadistic satisfaction of acknowledging their own implicit bias, racism, and privilege, while feeling like they’re making a difference because they breathlessly show their support for an erudite-sounding black guy.  But I digress.)

The former group wants to buy off all voters with as many publicly-funded goodies as possible; the latter wants to buy off minority voters with reparations and other publicly-funded goodies, all while chastising white voters (and gleefully awaiting the approaching day that whites are a minority, too).

Sailer, who refers to Coates as “TNC,” sums this division up succinctly:

The war between Bernie and TNC pits the old Marx-influenced left, with its hardheaded obsession with class, power, and money, against the new Coatesian left, which cares more about whether Marvel’s next movie features a black, female, or nonbinary superhero.

The rest of Sailer’s essay focuses on the obsession with racial identity and representation that dominates “Coatesian left.”  It’s not enough that everyone, black or white, share in Sanders’s redistributionist schemes; rather, blacks specifically must benefit at the expense of whites as a form of payback for slavery, alleged “redlining” in during the Depression, and “institutional racism.”

Further, the Coatesian/social justice Left demands “representation,” because a black superhero will magically improve the lot of black Americans.  Another Sailer quotation:

Coates’ notion that mass entertainment culture has been devoted to stereotyping black people as undeserving is, of course, absurd. But it helps explain some of his popularity in an era in which it is considered sophisticated to argue that Will Smith shouldn’t be cast as Serena and Venus Williams’ tennis dad because he’s not as dark-skinned as Idris Elba (while others argue that Smith, unlike Elba, deserves the role because he is an ADOS: American Descendant of Slaves).

Can you imagine what Socialist Senator Sanders thinks of these energies devoted to which millionaire should get richer?

Unlike Bernie, Coates is concerned with the old-fashioned comic-book virtues that appeal to 9-year-old boys: honor, status, representation, heredity, antiquity, and vengeance.

Revenge is a dish best served cold.  Maybe that’s why so many prominent Democratic presidential hopefuls are reheating such a tired idea.

Neither Sanders-style Marxism or Coatesian racial grievance will repair the United States’s fractured culture, but it will be interesting to see which side wins the Left.  Demographics suggest the latter will prevail over time.

Regardless, at bottom, both of these movements are redistributionist, and seek to plunder accumulated wealth and productivity to unprecedented degrees.  One might be traditional Marxism and the other Cultural Marxism—but they’re both Marxism.

TBT: Family Matters Follow-Up Part II: The Welfare State and the Crisis of the Family

TBT for this week: https://theportlypolitico.blogspot.com/2016/08/family-matters-follow-up-part-ii.html

Last week’s #TBT featured a follow-up to one of the most read pieces on my old site, “Family Matters.”  That piece generated so many questions and comments on Facebook back in 2016 that I wrote two lengthy follow-up posts.  This post deals with the deleterious impact of the welfare state upon the family, looking first at the effect of the Great Society on the black family.  It then examines how those negative consequences spread beyond racial barriers to destroy traditional and nuclear family formation across races.

Now, over half of children born to women under 30 are born out of wedlock, regardless of race.  Economics doesn’t explain that story entirely, but misguided government policy, which placed perverse incentives on single motherhood, have driven what is ultimately a cultural and spiritual decline.

The details are in the post below, so without further ado, here is 10 August 2016’s “Family Matters Follow-Up Part II: The Welfare State and the Crisis of the Family“:

My series of posts on the decline of the traditional family unit in the United States and the West has generated a great deal of discussion (and, occasionally, some bitter recriminations).  Thus, after the overwhelming feedback and requests for clarification I received to “Family Matters,” I decided to expand upon some portions of that piece (click here to read “Follow-Up Part I” about divorce and sex education).

One of the claims of “Family Matters” concerned the “havoc” President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society/War on Poverty wreaked on the black American families.  In the original post, I failed to link to any data or articles to substantiate this claim, but I’ve since updated the post with links to Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s famous “Moynihan Report” (actual title:  The Negro Family:  The Case for National Action) and a piece from 2015 that summarizes some of the main points of the report.

The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan–who would go on to serve as US Ambassador to India and the United Nations, then as a Democratic Senator for New York–enjoys a rare respect as a liberal among conservatives.  Though he was a leftist on many issues, he was first and foremost a scholar with a commitment to following the data wherever it took him.

The so-called “Moynihan Report”–which he wrote while working as a bureaucrat in the Department of Labor in 1965–demonstrated that many of the problems of the black community were caused only in part by discrimination, but much more so by a decline in marriage and stable family formation.  While racial discrimination was (and–I would like to think to a lesser extent–still is) a major problem in the 1960s, it alone could not explain adequately the plight of many black Americans.

Instead, what Moynihan discovered was that well-intentioned government programs inadvertently subsidized single motherhood, and were destroying the black family.  Indeed, the “national action” for which Moynihan called was that which would reinforce “the establishment of a stable Negro family structure.”  This national goal would be “difficult,” but “it almost certainly offers the only possibility of resolving in our time what is, after all, the nation’s oldest, and most instransigent, and now its most dangerous social problem.”  (Moynihan, The Negro Family)

I once heard a conservative black gentleman from Darlington, South Carolina, summarize Moynihan’s argument thus:  at a time when black men faced legitimate discrimination in the workforce, and could lose their jobs on the flimsiest of pretexts, the federal government came along offering generous support to single mothers.  By 1975–ten years after Moynihan’s prophetic report–a head of household would have to earn $88,000 (in 2015 dollars; about $22,000 in 1975) to out-earn the benefit from the federal government.  (Jack Coleman, “Juan Williams:  Daniel Patrick Moynihan ‘Had it Right’ About Breakdown of the Black Family”)  As Jason Riley, author of Please Stop Helping Us:  How Liberals Make it Harder for Blacks to Succeed wrote in a 2015 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, “In effect, the government paid mothers to keep fathers out of the home–and paid them well.”

Not surprisingly, many women took note of this benefit.  Some of them–and, yes, I know what you’re about to read will be hard to believe, but it actually happened–calculated that they were better off divorcing their husbands or having a child out of wedlock, especially given the real, costly discrimination their husbands faced.  Government do-gooding, coupled with a legacy of racial discrimination, caused many young black children to grow up without fathers.

Initially, that might not have been a huge problem… but it metastasized.  Young boys grew up without father figures to shape them, and came to expect that leaving a woman, or having children with multiple women, was natural.  Young girls grew up thinking they had no reasonable expectation of their man sticking around.  With each generation, the problem grew worse and worse, until now roughly 72-73% of black children born in America are born to a single parent.

“[S]imply replacing one parent with a paycheck does not fulfill a child’s many needs.”

Single parenthood is sometimes the only option, but it’s a tough row to hoe.  Not only does it place financial burdens on the parent; it also removes from her or him the ability to parent a child adequately.  To quote economist Walter Williams at length:

“Whether a student is black, white, orange or polka-dot and whether he’s poor or rich, there are some minimum requirements that must be met in order for him to do well in school. Someone must make the student do his homework. Someone must see to it that he gets eight to nine hours of sleep. Someone has to fix him a wholesome breakfast and ensure that he gets to school on time and respects and obeys teachers.

“Here’s my question: Which one of those basic requirements can be accomplished through a presidential executive order, a congressional mandate or the edict of a mayor, a superintendent of schools or a teacher? If those basic requirements aren’t met, whatever else that is done in the name of education is for naught.” (emphasis added; Walter Williams, “Can Racial Discrimination Explain Much?”)

In other words, simply replacing one parent with a paycheck does not fulfill a child’s many needs.  Children born out-of-wedlock and raised by a single parent are more likely “to experience a variety of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral problems,” according to Dr. Paul Amato in “The Impact of Family Formation Change on the Cognitive, Social, and Emotional Well-Being of the Next Generation.”   That creates ripple effects for generations to come, and the cycle is difficult to break.

***

The problem was prevalent even before Moynihan wrote his report (which, not surprisingly, caused many of his fellow-liberals to accuse him of “racism” and bigotry–common tactics when faced with an unpleasant truth).  Ronald Reagan, while campaigning for Arizona Senator and Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater in 1964, told the story in his magisterial “A Time for Choosing” speech of a mother who divorced her husband to get a check from the government, and how she learned to do it after talking to two other women who’d also gamed the system.

We’ve now had fifty-one years of the Great Society, and while some of its programs helped alleviate malnutrition and other problems that are, thankfully, dwindling issues, its good intentions created a host of other problems.  In 1965, one could still plausibly claim that government do-gooders merely didn’t know any better.  Now, the argument seems to be, “Well, we’re trying to do the right thing, so that’s all that should matter.”  That’s prime paving stone for the road to hell.

“The decline of the family is a problem all Americans will have to address.”

Moynihan argued that black Americans in particular were experiencing the decline of family formation most heavily because of the “tangle of pathologies” stemming from centuries of slavery and a century of legal, social, and economic segregation, and that this legacy dovetailed disastrously with the perverse incentive toward divorce and single motherhood.  As he predicted, this tangle morphed into a multi-generational cycle that has ground many black Americans further into poverty.

In 2016, the negative consequences have not only magnified the problem among black Americans; it’s spread throughout American society.  There’s been a crisis among black families for fifty years; we ignored it at our peril.

The experience of black American families since the 1960s is a sad story, though there are many brave black mothers and fathers who raise their children with love and support.  They are struggling to break a dangerous cycle, one that swirls in a murky stew of cultural, social, and economic pressures against the two-parent family and traditional marriage.

Racism appears to have enhanced the deleterious effects of the welfare state in the case of black families, but now those negative consequences are increasingly color-blind.  The decline of the family is a problem all Americans will have to address.

(For additional reading, check out the works of Walter Williams, a brilliant economist and political conservative who, as it happens, is black.  Start here for an appetizer:  http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/can-racial-discrimination-explain-much/article/2556814; after that, get Race and Economics:  How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?)