Joy Jones, Washington Post: "'Marriage Is for White People'"
I stuck my nose, briefly, into the Chuck Krauthammer/Frank Fukuyama pissfest--briefly enough that I'm not even sure if Fukuyama has pissed back, but long enough to read the Krauthammer AEI speech Frank called "strangely disconnected from reality." I have to side with Charlie on this one. The speech wasn't disconnected from reality, as that implies there was some connection which had been rendered inoperative, shorted out, perhaps, when the fact is there was none there to begin with. And "strange"? It was Krauthammer. What's strange about Krauthammer Unplugged? I might have pursued this further, but I realized that probably meant sitting in Borders reading Fukuyama's new page turner, I May Be the Last Man in America To Realize How Fucked Up Everything I've Said Before Was, That'll Be $35.00. And I'm really trying to devote more of my time to prostate massage.
Considering he was facing an AEI audience accustomed to rigorous intellectual methodology, Krauthammer took the brave position of arguing for American exceptionalism. I direct his attention to the Jonah Goldberg think piece above. Hell, I direct his attention to Jonah Goldberg.
If Divine Providence did indeed decide that the US of A was going to stand alone as a military superpower in order to teach the world a lesson, I think it's time we seriously started beseeching The Old Boy as to the exact nature of that lesson. Somebody distract Him so we can get a look at the Teacher's Manual, already.
Because if you ask me, the whole era of America as military superpower, hegemonic or no, is marked by the worst sort of domestic cowardice. Red scares, ginned up anti-Communism, a military-industrial complex with a track record that the Ford Motor Company could rightly sneer at, the curious failure of nerve, not to mention justice, that followed the Civil Rights movement, defeat in Vietnam, Watergate, the Reagan misadventures in Central America, the S&L looting, and, essentially, everything that's happened since November 7, 2000. We've thrown a tarp over our better instincts and ignored, if not cheered, as we stomped the very traits we used to proclaim made us exceptional in the first place. The same people who pine away in public for the lost glories of the 50s would have Superman behind Kryptonite bars in Gitmo if he dared fight for Truth, Justice, or any definition of The American Way not approved by George W. Bush.
Somehow, that makes me feel better about Jonah Goldberg in the LA Times; after all, he's small beer viewed against the timeline that landed him there, even if it's really piss in a bottle. But then I have to go and read him, fer chrissakes:
The [Congressional Black C]aucus lives in a fantasy in which it is the "conscience of the Congress." Immune to the sort of scrutiny that many other groups receive, it has benefited from the soft bigotry of low expectations for decades.
Feel free, as we go along, to change "[Congressional Black C]aucus" to "Jonah Goldberg" mutatis mutandis. See where it takes you.
As the Economist recently noted, gerrymandering and Democratic politics have resulted in a caucus well to the left of black America. Only four of 43 members of the group voted to ban partial-birth abortion in 2003, even though a majority of blacks favored such a ban. Most African Americans favor school choice, but because the caucus is firmly ensconced in the teacher-union racket, it bars the schoolhouse door to black kids who want a better education via vouchers. A majority of blacks oppose outright racial quotas, but don't tell that to the caucus. Or that blacks are heavily opposed to gay marriage.
Why pick on the blacks in Congress? Because they represent black leadership in America, and it has been on their watch that black America has descended into such a mess.
Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Dusky American, Jonah Goldberg feels your pain, because he reads what the pollsters say you think. And he wants you to know that the 43 "gerrymandered" members of the Black Caucus have let you down by not enacting those thoughts into law. Here's a fun fact: if you took every African American elected to Congress since Reconstruction and put them on the floor of the House, you wouldn't have a quorum. In fact, you wouldn't be half-way to a quorum. I suspect those let-down voters understand that a bit better than Mr. Pantload.
Look, it's no surprise that the Jonah Goldbergs of the world* think African Americans are basically stupid. What's surprising is just how stupid they think they are. They've been pitching this Reverse Discrimination crap for a quarter century. As a result, more than one Black Republican has been elected to Congress in the past fifteen years. In fact, it's twice as many as one!
(The "gerrymandered" thing there is a particularly lovely touch, echoed as it is by an admirer of the career of Dr. King who can't even be bothered to be honest about the long history of applying White-Out to black majorities on redistricting maps.)
But Jonah's not just about the politics; he feels your cultural pain, too, or at least he's read up on it:
If you include blacks in prison or not seeking work — which conventional unemployment surveys don't — the true jobless rate for black men in their 20s without a high school diploma is 72%. At the height of the economic boom, in 2000,...
Uh, wait a minute...your boys were telling us in 2000 we were in a recession.
it was still about 65%, according to the New York Times....
Statistics on the black family are, if possible, even more depressing. In a moving essay in the Washington Post, Joy Jones lamented how wedlock has become unfashionable in much of black America. A sixth-grader recently informed her that "marriage is for white people." The statistics back the kid up (though marriage among whites isn't that rosy either). More than two-thirds of black babies are born out of wedlock. Sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University says blacks were more likely to be raised by both parents during slavery days than they are today.
I've been working for a while collecting examples of the crackpot punditocracy's use of quotes. I'm not sure I'll ever finish, but here's a perfect example of my preliminary findings. It's something which ought to give any reasonably educated person pause, even before we reach the odiousness of some white guy telling us how good blacks had it under Mistah Charlie. Anything these types agree with is quotable, and moreover it qualifies as an appeal to authority. I don't know anyone who'd accept that sort of evidence, given without even any apparent interest in any opposing point of view, as a reason to hand over his wallet and not ask questions.
Then there's the reverse:
There's a lot of Marxist-infused nonsense about how economics are at the root of black America's problems. But this doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Of course poverty makes social pathologies worse, but it's the pathologies that cause poverty in the first place.
This being such a firm piece of revealed wisdom that no quote whatever is needed to establish it. I'd direct Jonah's attention to what has happened to the wages of semi-skilled and unskilled labor, black, white, or paisley, in this country over the past thirty years, but why should anyone bother? Besides, I'd like to sneak a peek at Ms Jones' moving essay:
I grew up in a time when two-parent families were still the norm, in both black and white America. Then, as an adult, I saw divorce become more commonplace, then almost a rite of passage. Today it would appear that many -- particularly in the black community -- have dispensed with marriage altogether.
Lemme just note here that while I was unable to find Ms Jones' date of birth I did see her picture, and if she was an adult when divorce became more commonplace she's remarkably well preserved. That happened in the 50s.
"Marriage is for white people."
That's what one of my students told me some years back when I taught a career exploration class for sixth-graders at an elementary school in Southeast Washington. I was pleasantly surprised when the boys in the class stated that being a good father was a very important goal to them, more meaningful than making money or having a fancy title.
"That's wonderful!" I told my class. "I think I'll invite some couples in to talk about being married and rearing children."
"Oh, no," objected one student. "We're not interested in the part about marriage. Only about how to be good fathers."
Funny how much Southeast Washington sixth-graders sound like cab drivers.
The marriage rate for African Americans has been dropping since the 1960s, and today, we have the lowest marriage rate of any racial group in the United States. In 2001, according to the U.S. Census, 43.3 percent of black men and 41.9 percent of black women in America had never been married, in contrast to 27.4 percent and 20.7 percent respectively for whites. African American women are the least likely in our society to marry. In the period between 1970 and 2001, the overall marriage rate in the United States declined by 17 percent; but for blacks, it fell by 34 percent. Such statistics have caused Howard University relationship therapist Audrey Chapman to point out that African Americans are the most uncoupled people in the country.
Not to sound like a discredited Marxist, but is it just possible that the economic explanations we've tossed out like yesterday's McDonald's trainee hat have something to do with it? Shit, I was a white boy with a reasonably good income in my twenties, and a Poor Girlfriend doomed to become my wife, working as a teacher, and marriage and child rearing was a dicey proposition for us thirty years ago. How can that percentage of young black males we haven't incarcerated consider it seriously? Other than that wagging moral index finger, and the extended economic middle one, what are you offering them?
Although slavery was an atrocious social system, men and women back then nonetheless often succeeded in establishing working families.
Ah, sheesh, are you willing to swear you write your own stuff?
But working mothers, unmarried couples living together, out-of-wedlock births, birth control, divorce and remarriage have transformed the social landscape. And no one seems to feel this more than African American women. One told me that with today's changing mores, it's hard to know "what normal looks like"
If all she has confounding her is that list of tongue-cluckings she doesn't know how lucky she is. I've been trying for a decade to remember what a normal government looks like
Sex, love and childbearing have become a la carte choices rather than a package deal that comes with marriage. Moreover, in an era of brothers on the "down low," the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and the decline of the stable blue-collar jobs that black men used to hold, linking one's fate to a man makes marriage a risky business for a black woman.
Okay, thanks for that "stable blue-collar jobs" bit, but "on the down low"? Can't that be taken as suggesting homosexuality as a root cause of STDs and economic instability? Please say you didn't mean it.
The turning point in my own thinking about marriage came when a longtime friend proposed about five years ago. He and I had attended college together, dated briefly, then kept in touch through the years. We built a solid friendship, which I believe is a good foundation for a successful marriage.
But -- if we had married, I would have had to relocate to the Midwest. Been there, done that, didn't like it. I would have had to become a stepmother and, although I felt an easy camaraderie with his son, stepmotherhood is usually a bumpy ride. I wanted a house and couldn't afford one alone. But I knew that if I was willing to make some changes, I eventually could.
As I reviewed the situation, I realized that all the things I expected marriage to confer -- male companionship, close family ties, a house -- I already had, or were within reach, and with exponentially less drama. I can do bad by myself, I used to say as I exited a relationship. But the truth is, I can do pretty good by myself, too.
Well, thanks for sharing. What is for society a death spiral of immorality, disease, irresponsibility, and what, back in the Good Old Days of the mid-18th Century we called "illegitimacy", is for you a sound personal choice. Ms Jones, you're officially qualified to lecture the rest of us. On everything but how to swim. That's Jonah's balliwick.
* I use this in the unusual sense which actually includes Jonah Goldberg.