Dreams from My Single-Parent Family
Last September, a cell-phone video that depicted Chicago public school students beating a fellow teen to death circulated throughout the Internet and the mainstream media.
Curiously, none of the media outlets that covered the story bothered to recollect that President Barack Obama had once served as a community organizer and then a state senator in these very same South Side neighborhoods.
Throughout his years working for "change", Obama paid scant heed to the primary cause of violence and dependency in the area: the eradication of the black two-parent family by decades of Democrat policies.
Community organizing had gotten its start in Chicago under the direction of an activist named Saul Alinsky. Alinsky believed that poverty was the result of political inequities. He envisioned a power-grab by the "have-nots" of society, who would form massive, grassroots coalitions that would defeat the rich and redistribute their possessions.
But the Alinsky movement suffered two calamitous setbacks in the years leading up to the Obama era. First, the War on Poverty had established a governmental community organizing bureaucracy called the Community Action Agency. Rife with corruption, the agency's money was misappropriated and used to fund gang warfare, rape and murder.
In addition, the Alinsky playbook was doubly irrelevant because blacks occupied most of the positions of power in Chicago. The city had elected its first black mayor, Harold Washington; it had power-brokers like Emil Jones, Jr. in the State Senate; and Jesse Jackson would launch his 1984 presidential campaign in the south side.
Despite the sea-change in political influence, Chicago had exploded in a maelstrom of black-on-black violence. In 1984, the year Obama came to Chicago, one of the top high school basketball players in the country -- an immensely talented and likable center named Ben Wilson -- was murdered by gang members.
The outcry was as predictable as it was ineffectual. None of the power-brokers pointed out that all of Wilson's killers came from single-parent families. None concerned themselves with the mind-blowing statistic: 75% of all black Chicago kids were born out of wedlock. In fact, it became a cultural norm for young black men to father children and flee responsibility. The result was rampant crime. In fact, statistical studies show that if one controls for single-parent families, there are no differences between the races when it comes to crime.
In Obama's book Dreams from My Father, his narrative "is almost devoid of men. With the exception of the local ministers and the occasional semi-crazed black nationalist, Obama inhabits a female world. His organizing targets are almost all single mothers. He never wonders where and who the fathers of their children are. When Obama sees a group of boys vandalizing a building, he asks rhetorically: 'Who will take care of them: the alderman, the social workers? The gangs?' The most appropriate candidate—'their fathers'—never occurs to him."
Rather than confront the central issue, Obama as community organizer initially struggled to find his role. He was relieved to find that a Mayor's Education and Training (MET) office had no branch in Roseland, and he promptly filed an application to open one. The office had as much of an effect on the area as his asbestos removal efforts, which is to say: none. In fact, youth violence continued to increase and by his third year, 57 children had been killed in the city.
In 1994, a series of brutal child murders galvanized public attention: an 11-year old gang member was executed to keep him from implicating others in an accidental shooting death. A month later, a five-year old boy who had refused to steal candy for two under-12 gang members was dropped from a 14-story building. Not one of the participants came from a two-parent family.
A year after these notorious murders, the would-be candidate for state senator granted an interview to The Chicago Reader. Rather than point out the lack of family structure endemic to the rampant violence, Obama instead attacked "the Christian Right and the Republican Congress for 'hijack[ing] the higher moral ground with this language of family values and moral responsibility.' Yeah, sure, family values are fine, he says, but what about 'collective action . . . collective institutions and organizations'? Let’s take 'these same values that are encouraged within our families,' he urges, 'and apply them to a larger society.'"
The ignorance or naivete inherent in these statements expose a bizarre worldview. Never in the history of western civilization has some collectivist framework served as a realistic substitute for the traditional family structure. In Obama's Chicago, fathers are AWOL; and some nebulous obligation for "collective action" has no chance of succeeding without a sense of personal responsibility. In fact, Obama downplays the notion of a familial duty and points to an overall societal failure, saying "...we have a society that talks about the irresponsibility of teens getting pregnant... [but] not the irresponsibility of a society that fails to educate them to aspire for more."
The ideology of Alinsky then -- as now -- appears to have clouded Obama's mind. Where history, facts, logic and reason point to the need to encourage, nurture and reward the traditional family unit, Obama instead vilifies family values.
For decades, Obama and the Democrats have embraced an utterly defective and destructive strategy: Crushing school choice. Incentivizing single-parent families. Encouraging a lifelong culture of dependency.
The children of Obama's South Side deserve better. They deserve more than a dream of a father.
Based upon: Heather Mac Donald, Chicago’s Real Crime Story, City Journal, January 2010.