The fallout from the Connecticut school shooting and the ludicrous concept that reinstating the so-called assault weapons ban would stop future incidents has occupied this column for the past two weeks.
As I said last week, I hate writing about the same thing two weeks in a row; but this subject is multi-faceted and in areas you would not expect at first blush.
My thought is that the ultimate solution to any social problem is parenting; and to that end, I have a question of President Obama and his wife, who appear to be classic role models as a couple and as parents.
The latest information that the Federal Government has available is that in the black community—which voted 93 percent for Obama in 2012—72.1% of the births in 2008 were to unmarried mothers. That’s up from 37.5% in 1970.
72.1%. Put another way, that means that roughly 721 out of every 1,000 black kids is raised in a fatherless household.
And it’s not like the rest of the nation has all that much to be proud of. Hispanics clock in at 53.4% and whites at 35.9%, which are less eye-popping but are still an embarrassment. In all, it’s a lot of single-parent households raising kids, mostly mothers.
So my question for the President and the First Lady is: “Where are you on this issue?”
Try finding a statement, pre or post his 2008 election from him or her on the issue.
He had plenty to say about gay marriage during the last election campaign. He was all for that.
But you see the black-on-black crime statistics in places like, say, Chicago, and you have to wonder why America’s first black President has lost his voice.
One possible answer is that while Obama is undeniably black, he doesn’t have the street credibility of being black enough to lecture the black community the way a Bill Cosby did. And Cosby, when he let loose his rant in 2004, took a huge beating from the black establishment. (He was unimpressed and continued to speak out.)
While Cosby is best known as an entertainer, he happens to have a PhD from UMass in education. His credentials in the area are certainly the equal of the President’s.
He said at a dinner to honor the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision: “I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was 2? Where were you when he was 12? Where were you when he was 18, and how come you didn’t know that he had a pistol? And where is the father?”
There is no question that Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are not the kind of parents Cosby was referring to.
But their silence is deafening.
It is similar to the silence we heard from many American Muslims who, after 9-11, were asked their opinion on radical islamists and answered “It is not for me to judge.”
I don’t know how much impact it would have if President Obama were to come out and say about his own black community what Cosby said, but it could not hurt. In fact, it could only be helpful.
And I’m a believer that even if he reaches just a small part of that constituency, it will have a good long-term effect. Far more effective than his inevitable political loss from an attempt at a gun ban of some sort.
I saw him on TV last weekend, and he told NBC’s David Gregory that he had to do something.
What he didn’t say was that whatever he did would necessarily have any effect. The calculus seemed to be purely political.
And, of course, the chattering class on Meet the Press still doesn’t understand that one of the exact reasons the Second Amendment exists is to keep the government at arm’s length. They likely never will.
We can only hope Obama, with no more campaigns ahead of him and no more elections to win, would break out of his political box and suggest to his most loyal constituency that two-parent households work.
Because gun-grabbing doesn’t.
If we’re going to have a “national conversation”, how about we talk about restoring parental responsibility as a concept instead of how we go about taking away a law-abiding citizen’s constitutional rights.
Photo credit: Geoff Livingston (Creative Commons)