At a time when our country is sick, it shouldn’t be surprising that one of our sickest places is our nation’s capital.
The poverty rate of Washington, D.C., almost 20 percent, is one of the highest in the nation. Its child-poverty rate is the nation’s highest.
D.C.’s public-school system, with a graduation rate of less than 50 percent, is one of the worst in the country.
According to D.C.’s HIV/AIDS office, 3 percent of the local population has HIV or AIDS. The administrator of this office notes that this HIV/AIDS incidence is “… higher than West Africa … on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya.” And the principal way that HIV is transmitted continues to be through male homosexual activity.
Amidst this dismal picture, the D.C. City Council, perhaps on the theory that serving up another glass of wine is the way to help a drunk, is scheduled to vote on Dec. 1 to legalize same-sex marriage in America’s capital city.
Looking at realities in Washington, D.C., should make clear why George Washington said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”
But the America that our first president had in mind was very different from the vision of our D.C. government officials.
George Washington’s America was one in which the point of freedom is to allow man to rise to what he can become. To do this, the greatest challenge he faces is conquering himself, to rise above his baser instincts, to rise above the many temptations that lead him astray. And to achieve this end, as Washington said, “religion and morality are indispensable supports.”
In left-wing America, of which the D.C. government is a poster child, freedom means to indulge every instinct that the tradition and religion of George Washington would have us overcome.
Where does it lead? Well, look at D.C.
It is tempting to look at D.C.’s realities and just call this a black thing. And by and large it is.
D.C. is largely black – almost 60 percent. Its poverty is black poverty. Its public-school system serves mostly black children. And its AIDS crisis is mostly among blacks.
But the pathologies that strike the weakest parts of our population most brutally are nonetheless pathologies of the nation.
The Brookings Institution is one of our oldest policy institutes and certainly no bastion of conservatism.
But in a recently published volume, Brookings scholars Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill point out the centrality of the traditional family to the American dream of opportunity and the centrality of family breakdown to poverty.
Reporting data showing the general breakdown of the traditional American family, they say, “Some claim that anyone who is concerned about these trends is simply out of touch with modern culture; we respond that, if that be the case, then, ‘modern culture is out of touch with the needs of children.'”
The Catholic Archdiocese of D.C. announced that legalization of same-sex marriage would make it impossible to continue its relationship with the D.C. government and require termination of the social services it provides to some 68,000 of the city’s poor – including about one-third of its homeless.
The reaction of D.C. Councilmember David Catania was essentially “so what?” According to him, “their services are not indispensable.”
Is Catania out of touch with the needs of D.C.’s poor?
No. He just has different priorities. More important to him, and more important to D.C.’s left-wing city council, is advancing moral relativism and the indulgences it feeds.
This is more important to them than feeding the poor or recognizing the values that would get them out of poverty.
It should concern every American as we watch our nation’s capital city transform officially into Sodom.