The Right Opinion

On Guns, Obama Finally Talks About the Culture of Fatherlessness

By Larry Elder · Feb. 21, 2013

Dads matter.

President Barack Obama said it recently in Chicago, a city on track for 600 murders this year, the equivalent of two Sandy Hooks per month. Too bad he still does not understand that his left-wing ideology is the problem.

After the Sandy Hook tragedy, Obama, much of his party and much of the media have been calling for further gun control and advocating “common sense” measures such as limiting the number of rounds in a magazine, “universal” background checks and restrictions on “assault weapons.”

But there is an 800-pound politically incorrect elephant in the room.

Most gun murders in America are committed by people of color, with the victims almost always people of color. Whites have the same access to firearms, listen to the same “urban” music and play the same violent video games. Why, then, do the murders disproportionally involve racial minorities, principally blacks and Hispanics, usually young men in urban settings, many with gang ties?

Obama, in Chicago, finally talked about the lack of fathers and the impact this has on crime rather than complain about the number of rounds in a magazine: “For a lot of young boys and young men in particular, they don't see an example of fathers or grandfathers, uncles, who are in a position to support families and be held up in respect. And so that means that this is not just a gun issue; it's also an issue of the kinds of communities that we're building. When a child opens fire on another child, there is a hole in that child's heart that government can't fill. Only community and parents and teachers and clergy can fill that hole.”

He offers no alternative. Why would he? That would require a wholesale rethinking of the welfare state and of the perverse incentives that work against the interests of the very people the left claims to care about.

Perverse incentives? Columnist Walter Williams said that census data from 1890 to 1940 show that blacks were slightly more likely than whites to marry, and therefore their children were also more likely to be in a two-parent household. During the Great Depression, “going on the dole” was considered shameful, only done as a dire necessity of last resort after first seeking help from friends, family, churches and charities.

But by the '60s, government workers went door-to-door in urban communities and elsewhere urging unmarried mothers to sign up for benefits, thus “marrying” the government. Almost 75 percent of today's black children are born outside of wedlock, as are 53 percent of Hispanics and 29 percent of non-Hispanic whites. As recently as 1963 – five decades ago – those numbers for blacks were 23.6 percent. As for whites at that time, fewer than 3 percent were born outside of wedlock.

By 1965 – just two years later – out-of-wedlock births by black women had increased to 28 percent. By 1970, it had jumped to 38 percent. In the '80s, it rose to 50 percent, and by the '90s, the black out-of-wedlock birthrate exceeded 70 percent.

What to do?

We know that government welfare damages individual initiative and personal responsibility. After the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, the welfare rolls declined by half! The needy can and should be helped at the state and local level, ideally by nonprofits, religious institutions, self-help organizations and mentors.

A counselor recently wrote me. She asked not to be identified, fearing a backlash because of her condemnation of the bad choices women make in male partners. She argued that if women demanded more of themselves, men would get the message – and they would be forced to behave more responsibly. To do otherwise, she says, is to behave selfishly – for responsible parenting requires selflessness:

“No one is putting a gun to women's heads and making them have intercourse with unworthy men prior to marriage. It is done willingly, leads to a life from hell and harms everyone involved, even the bum who has no motivation to shape up since he is afforded all the reward a good, respectable, hardworking husband would get without having to be a good, respectable, hardworking husband.

"The term 'father' used to be considered synonymous with the man who, in this order, a) courted a woman, b) married a woman, c) impregnated a woman, and d) stayed around for the next 20 years paying the bills, playing catch, disciplining the kids and loving the mom. Now, mere siring or donating sperm to the creation of a kid is called 'fathering,' when it's barely more than breeding. It cheapens the meaning of the word 'father.'

"Now picture this: If all women, black or white or whatever race, said to black men, 'No marriage, sex, children or home-cooked food without toil and solid achievement first,' do you really think any lowered bars that had been established would have stopped black men from achieving the finances and success required for romance? I don't. They'd be working hard, wanting to get the top score and wanting to outshine others.”

No romance without finance – because dads matter.



rab in jo,mo said:

Not only is it the impact of strong fathers on their sons, but also on their daughters. Maybe these women wouldn't be so willing to spread their legs for anyone that comes along if they had a father in their life.

Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 9:18 AM


Great article Mr. Elder. I was raised in a single parent home - my mom and my three sisters. No male influence at all. I made some stupid decisions growing up and I think those would have been lessened had there been a male influence in my life. A lot of what we learn as children is done by WATCHING the world around us. If a critical part is missing, this can affect us as adults.

Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 10:30 AM

RLS in OK replied:

Like Ready4AChange in Illinois, I was raised without a father. Mine was killed in WWII when I was less than 2 years, but the effect is the same as any fatherless home. I had no role model and many, many things had to be learned later in life as I realized I was not what I was supposed to be. Yet, I believed I was a good person. Becoming a Christian at age 35 was the turning point for me. Values from God work. Values I had tried to develop using my own judgement did not. I think the essential element to good character is accountability - that's when you believe you are going to answer for your choices. It's hard for youth to look ahead like that. That is why fathers who behave as you described men should are so important - a son tends to act as his father did while he develops his own character. But I don't know how to heal this nation when God is not considered as relevant as Mickey Mouse and church is less influential than the Mickey Mouse Club. And, as a practicing Christian, I learned most "Christians" have never read the Bible. The book in which God tells us what He expects. I attended a church as a youth, quit during college, and yet called myself a "Christian". no idea how far off the narrow path they have gone. So, where do their values come from?

Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 12:41 PM

RLS in OK replied:

Ooops. I hit Enter accidentally and didn't finish my comment at the end. But, I suspect many will feel I should have ended it sooner. Values are good but is Christianity really relevant? Can't we become a really good people some other way?

Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 12:43 PM

A Concerned Citizen in Hilton, NY replied:

"[I]f the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted. ... If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the Divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws." --Noah Webster, History of the United States

You tell me? Why do you feel the need to "become moral" apart from God? For that matter, what makes you think you can?

The "the way, the truth and the life" are through God. Why do you feel the need to fight against it? If you truly wish to be "Moral", embrace Him!

Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 1:35 PM

wjm in Colorado said:

I have never met a gun that killed anyone, but there are a lot of mentally unstable individuals, the result of marxist liberal insanity, that have.

Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

You absolutely cannot talk to any young black about the culture of welfare because they immediately start with the racist BS. Another problem is some of the older blacks have bought in to the idea they are owed something because of the years of slavery and Jim Crow laws. You can't make them understand you can't punish one generation for the sins of another. If is sickening to see how young black kids are treated by their mothers because all the mother sees is a cash cow and not a child. They have absolutely no shame in living off the taxes paid by others. The men just want to brag about how many kids they have fathered yet take no responsibility for them at all. I don't call them fathers, they are nothing more than sperm donors and scum of the earth.

Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 6:44 PM

Karl in New Orleans said:

I'm so happy I read this article, what a relief to see in writing what myself and friends have been saying for years.
Thank you,

Sunday, March 31, 2013 at 4:43 AM