As Baltimore smolders in the wake of Ferguson, Trayvon Martin and unprovoked black mob attacks on non-blacks in cities across America, it’s time to consider the possibility that the promise of the civil rights movement of the 1960s has been betrayed.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of what has become known as “The Moynihan Report,” actually titled in 1965 “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” an official publication of the U.S. Labor Department written by the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who later became a U.S. senator from New York.
Moynihan was a sociologist and Democrat who focused on the root causes of black poverty and concluded that the destruction of the nuclear family was at the heart of the problem. He suggested that neither economic nor political equality could ever be achieved without addressing the advantage of intact families with both mothers and fathers present in the home.
Moynihan noted that attacks on the black family began during slavery and more intensely so during the Jim Crow era. But what surprised everyone who read the Moynihan Report was that America’s “war on poverty” turned into a war on the black family – one worse, in some ways, than even slavery.
As he observed later, “The work began in the most orthodox setting, the U.S. Department of Labor, to establish at some level of statistical conciseness what ‘everyone knew’: that economic conditions determine social conditions. Whereupon, it turned out that what everyone knew was evidently not so.”
What Moynihan discovered has still not been acknowledged by the very people most adversely affected by the problem: Rates of black male unemployment and welfare enrollment – instead of running parallel as they always had – started to diverge in 1962 in a way that would come to be called “Moynihan’s scissors.”
In 1965 Moynihan foresaw the coming destruction of the black family because the black out-of-wedlock birth rate was 25 percent. Americans were shocked by that statistic 50 years ago. But today the number is over 72 percent among blacks, more than 53 percent among Hispanics and more than 29 percent among whites. By contrast, in 1965, out-of-wedlock births among white Americans was at 3.1 percent. Not only has the black family been destroyed, as Moynihan predicted, so has the whole of the American family.
Moynihan’s report concluded that the structure of family life in the black community constituted a “tangle of pathology … capable of perpetuating itself without assistance from the white world,” and that “at the heart of the deterioration of the fabric of Negro society is the deterioration of the Negro family. It is the fundamental source of the weakness of the Negro community at the present time.” Further, the report argued that the matriarchal structure of black culture weakened the ability of black men to function as authority figures.
He concluded in his report: “The steady expansion of welfare programs can be taken as a measure of the steady disintegration of the Negro family structure over the past generation in the United States.”
Did anyone listen?
Yes, but expansion of welfare programs continued unabated – in fact they exploded exponentially as did the breakdown of the black family and entirety of the American family.
Is this phenomenon worth re-exploring 50 years later with our cities more dysfunctional than ever before and some of them in flames?
What are the chances America will make an effort to put the American family back together at the very moment the national dialogue obsesses over the urgent need for “same-sex marriage”?
Slim to none.
But there are people making just that last-ditch case.
Moynihan is gone.
But Phyllis Schlafly has been beating this drum on the national stage since the 1960s. Her newest book, “Who Killed the American Family?” is there for us to read and embrace. Of course, nobody can force Americans to look reality in the eye and accept it. Many Americans today weren’t around 50 years ago to remember “the good old days,” and they were better for nearly everyone – black or white.
Paul Kengor has also provided new insight into the death of the American family with his newest book, “Takedown.” It reveals the active and successful effort to systematically destroy the American family – not just the black family.
But it takes more than facts and knowledge to turn things around. It takes will. It takes hard work. It takes fighting the inertia of doing the same old thing over and over again expecting different results.
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