Did you know that President Obama is on the wrong side of the argument about black fatherhood? So says Mychal Denzel Johnson, in a column for the Washington Post, in which he faults the president (and others) for drawing attention to the fact that most black children in America are born without a father in the home. Excerpt:
In a 2008 speech delivered on Father’s Day at a church on Chicago’s South Side, the first viable black candidate for president of the United States chastised black fathers. Too many black fathers, he said, are missing from too many lives and too many homes. “They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. We know the statistics — that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison,” Obama said. “They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.”
It became a staple in his speeches delivered to majority- or all-black audiences. As recently as last year, Obama said at a poverty summit, “I am a black man who grew up without a father and I know the cost that I paid for that.”
However, responsible fatherhood only goes so far in a world plagued by institutionalized oppression. For black children, the presence of fathers would not alter racist drug laws, prosecutorial protection of police officers who kill, mass school closures or the poisoning of their water. By focusing on the supposed absence of black fathers, we allow ourselves to pretend this oppression is not real, while also further scapegoating black men for America’s societal ills.
So now a black President of the United States who was abandoned by his black father and wants to tell other black men that it’s wrong to do so — well, he’s only aiding the oppressor. When even Barack Obama cannot discuss race-related realities without being accused in the Washington Post of abetting racism, we are in trouble.
Along these lines, a reader e-mails:
I think some are missing some important aspects of the recent John Lewis flap, but your earlier post about the Gemby article touches on it. Trump’s response may have been predictable and harsh, and I grant the hypocrisy of it coming from him, but what’s more predictable is the media sanctimony that has followed. I’m fine with Trump criticizing Lewis, even though I don’t really like the idea of any President tweeting, but so be it, it’s 2017, and the alternative is to submit to their loaded questions in a press conference. I also think the Trump team’s messaging is a lot more intentional than people give it credit, assuming it’s only late-night ramblings and launching random bombs at enemies. I think a lot of conservatives are fine with the recent response, and precisely because of it’s disregard for Lewis civil-rights past.
Why? Because we’re so sick and tired of Democrat politicians using race as a uni-directional cudgel in politics and the media excusing their racism. Many are just over it, and all the sanctimonious decorum of commenters that are falling all over themselves to call Lewis an icon and a hero, and the fainting that Trump would disrespect him on MLK weekend — it’s just hard to treat as a holy day, and not because of Trump, but because the Left has used the civil rights legacy so unscrupulously. I’m frankly exhausted with the constant discussion of race, and the fawning media that thinks Obama is a hero for constantly hectoring the country about it (this is reporting?). Can anyone argue it’s made things better?
Lewis may have done something heroic in the 60s, but nobody cares anymore, because we know what he did last week. His empty testimony against Sessions revealed him to be a a race-hustler trading on the past and unwilling to accept that the race relations are better and embrace more productive ideas. And now we’re told by mainstream media talking heads he must be respected? Sorry, no sale, and this is big picture people in the media are missing, that we’re losing some decorum and politeness with Trump, but also the sanctimony and PC editorial boundaries, [emphasis the reader’s — RD] boundaries that they use to manipulate language and the bounds of discussion, which only benefit the Left. So, I’m all for throwing that out.
On a related note, Cory Booker’s testimony was shameful too (and flat). That’s not ‘just politics,’ it’s an attempt at character assassination, it’s in the permanent Senate record, and another oblique suggestion that a Southern, white, and Republican must be a racist even when there’s overwhelming evidence to the contrary. MLK wanted people to be judged by the ‘content of their character.’ Booker and Lewis disgraced themselves, and they don’t deserve respect. Tom Cotton’s response was more gracious scolding, that his colleague Booker “knows better,” but at some point people say, “sorry, if you’re going to practice this sort of race-bating, you do lose respect, however good your past deeds are.”
Maybe it’s just age too, that being in my 30s, I didn’t grow up in such a deeply divided racial context, and I can’t just accept the Left not allowing the country to move past it, and work productively on inequality. Or the intellectual tyranny of calling anyone that disagrees with you an immoral racist. Don’t underestimate either how personally people take the platitudes and race hectoring when the US president says things like “we have to do better.” Is that not suggesting that my behavior needs to improve for the world to be less racist?
I don’t underestimate Trump’s opportunity to make some big mistakes, but I’ve heard a lot in the last few years about how we need to have “an honest discussion about race,” and that includes dispensing with the banalities that currently fuel it.
Another reader, a conservative Christian, writes in about the Knots & Reparations piece that prompted the above reader’s letter. He has been participating in a Christian “racial reconciliation” group in his city, but he’s burning out. I have edited his letter slightly to protect his identity, and publish this version with his permission:
I spent the fall participating in a racial reconciliation group — all of whom are Christians—with an eye towards trying to begin to work out inside the church a reconciliation of the racial divide. The problem, I have discovered, is that left-wing ideology, grievance and liberation theology has deeply infested Christianity, particularly among millennials. In my time in this group,
1) At least one older white gentleman and his wife (and by older I mean 50-something) were more or less drummed out of the group because he tried to—in the most gracious, tentative, gentle and humble way imaginable—articulate a defense of enforcing border security. This despite the fact that he has been an extremely generous financial supporter of inner-city ministry.
2) Various members claimed, the day after the election, that “we now know that half the country is racist” and furthermore that almost all white evangelicals are racists because 88 percent of them voted for Trump. Not that there possibly could be any other reason to vote for Trump.
3) An invited speaker gave a long lecture about how Western culture from Augustine forward is based on white supremacy. He had no interest in conversing with someone who disagreed with him.
4) An African-American female explained her decision to leave her multiracial church because she had concluded that she could not thrive around white Christians. She said that to love her blackness, and to live in justice, she had to cut ties with a church that includes whites.
Rod, this is just scratching the surface. The experience has left me deeply troubled that even the church is struggling terribly with this problem. I don’t have solutions, and I still have some hope in the healing work of Christ, but the reality on the ground is deeply, deeply depressing. Sorry to be a downer—I am still hopeful that you are right, but there is just a huge, huge uphill battle, because the entire next generation has been colonized by left-wing theology.
The reader goes on to say that, “If “racism” no longer means “hating people of another race” but rather means “not entirely convinced by the extreme claims of left wing/progressive identity politics” then I really don’t much care if a SJW snowflake calls me a racist.”
A depressing thought on MLK Day. But it’s where we are now.