My latest book, “Dear Father, Dear Son,” focuses on the importance of fathers — and the increasing number of children who grow up in homes without one. Fox’s Juan Williams understands this — sort of. He gets the “what,” but not the “why.”
Williams, in a Wall Street Journal piece called “Race and the Gun Debate,” writes: “Gun-related violence and murders are concentrated among blacks and Latinos in big cities. Murders with guns are the No. 1 cause of death for African-American men between the ages of 15 and 34. But talking about race in the context of guns would also mean taking on a subject that can’t be addressed by passing a law: the family-breakdown issues that lead too many minority children to find social status and power in guns.”
Williams is, of course, right. There is a direct link between no father in the home and an increased chance that the child will drop out of high school, go on welfare and have a criminal record. This is particularly acute in the black community, where over 70 percent of black kids are born outside of wedlock. In some communities, like Southeast Washington, D.C, a staggering 84 percent of children live in homes without a father.
Roland Warren is the former head of National Fatherhood Initiative. Warren, a black man, read “Dear Father, Dear Son.” He called it “powerful” and that it ought to be “required reading” in middle and high schools in America. And Vincent DiCaro, vice president of the NFI, told The Washington Times: “[People] look at a child in need, in poverty or failing in school, and ask, ‘What can we do to help?’ But what we do is ask, ‘Why does that child need help in the first place?’ And the answer is often it’s because [the child lacks] a responsible and involved father.”
Williams gets the connection between no dads and violence. “The statistics are staggering,” he writes. “In 2009, for example, the Centers for Disease Control reported that 54 percent of all murders committed, overwhelmingly with guns, are murders of black people. Black people are about 13 percent of the population. The Justice Department reports that between 1980 and 2008, ‘blacks were six times more likely than whites to be homicide victims and seven times more likely than whites to commit homicide.'”
This brings us the “why.” Liberals like Williams need to acknowledge the damage the welfare state — and their support of it — has done to the family.
Economist Walter Williams says that census reports from 1890 to 1940 show that blacks were actually slightly more likely to marry than whites - therefore their children were slightly more likely than whites to be born into a nuclear, intact family.
Enter President Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty.” Johnson established “neighborhood centers,” whose workers went door-to-door, apprising people of their welfare “rights and benefits.” Welfare rolls exploded — increasing 110 percent during one three-year period in the ’60s. Instead of helping the needy, the “war” helped turn the needy into welfare dependents.
How do we know that the well-intentioned but misguided “war on poverty” actually increased welfare dependency? We asked the poor. In 1985, the Los Angeles Times published the findings of a poll that asked both poor and non-poor people the following question: Do young, poor mothers “often” have children to get additional benefits? Most non-poor people (44 percent) said no. But 64 percent of poor respondents agreed that young poor women “often” have children to get additional welfare benefits!
What does Juan Williams propose? Well, “dialogue.” He encourages President Barack Obama to “speak out” on the issue: “When President Obama tried to speak to this crippling dynamic [of black fatherlessness and violence] in 2008, he was basically told to shut up by Rev. Jesse Jackson….The moment revealed the high cost of speaking honestly about social breakdown in black America.”
Getting Obama to “speak out”?
Obama, then a community organizer, lawyer and part-time law lecturer, opposed the welfare reform act of 1996. Never mind that it caused welfare rolls to decline by 50 percent, without a corresponding increase in abortion. The reform induced able-bodied people, previously on welfare, to get into the workforce. As president, Obama watered down the major component of the ’96 reform, the work requirement.
Years ago, the late liberal Sen. William Proxmire, D-Wis., held hearings on the impact of federal government anti-poverty programs known as “urban renewal.” One resident after another testified about government waste, indifference, corrupt politics, over-taxation and the negative consequences of bulldozing old neighborhoods to make way for what became public housing. An exasperated Proxmire finally said to one witness, “You would probably have better neighborhoods today if there had been no federal programs at all!”
The question is not whether to help the needy, but how to do so in the most humane, effective way, which gives kids the best possible chance to succeed. Government does a rotten job of this. Now that thoughtful lefties like Williams understand the what, when and how, will they address the “why”?