Rusty Reno’s treatment of the Ferguson affair in his Web Exclusive today emphasizes the predictable “script” that has unfolded since that fateful confrontation on August 9th. “Black youth shot by policeman [arrow] outrage and protest [arrow] rioting and looting [arrow] indignant and solemn discussion of American racism by pundits and columnists”—that’s the drama, and it surprises nobody anymore.

Reno believes the script can change, but only if we spend more time “speaking frankly about marriage and family, the dignity of work, and the nobility of faith.” That turn is obvious to anyone who has examined the facts of the black family, especially the number of African-American teenagers with no father in the home.

But this is precisely the script that liberals refuse. It posits the traditional family as a bulwark against disorder, and it maintains that boys need mothers and fathers. Honest inquiry would force them to acknowledge that the “experiments” in family structure of the last half-century prove not an advance, but a disaster.

The resistance even to entertain the idea is powerful. Once I noted among my professor-friends the astonishing rate of African-American children born with no father around (70 percent), and one stated, “Oh, that’s the legacy of slavery.” It rolled off his lips as if he were recalling what he had for breakfast that morning. He had overlooked the fact that the rate was only 25 percent in 1965, but if I had reminded him of it, he would have shrugged. His goal wasn’t to ponder how Jim Crow had made the black family vulnerable. It was to shift attention away from the family and toward social-historical factors.

Anything to avoid admitting that Marxist attacks on the family as a bourgeois conservation, feminist presentations of it as patriarchal, and “queer” critiques of its “hetero-normativity” undo one of the foundations of human health and welfare. We now have an entire class of academics and journalists invested in those arguments, deeply so, and it’s going to take stamina and courage to hold them to the facts.

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Articles by Mark Bauerlein

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