Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Which Party Gets Your Kids?

I swear I need to start a new political party.

In this article, David Ferguson writes about an ad that Melissa Harris-Perry did on MSNBC, Rush Limbaugh's and Glenn Beck's criticism of it, and her response to their criticism. For those who can't be bothered to read the article, here's the deal: Harris-Perry's ad was basically a message of "it takes a village to raise a child." Beck and Limbaugh threw a fit about it because, well, it was on MSNBC, and it's apparently their job to throw a fit about anything any liberal says. Harris-Perry got a lot of hate mail from FOX viewers, and rather than backing down, she "doubled down" and emphasized the point she had already made. Okay, now that you're up to speed, here's what I have to say about it.

Limbaugh wasn't so quick to defend the sanctity of the nuclear family back in 1995, when his boy Newt Gingrich was trying to seize the children of parents who received welfare benefits. Gingrich's "modest proposal" was to steal poor parents' children and force them into orphanages, because to him, raising a child in poverty was child abuse, and a kid would be better off being raised in a state institution than by parents who didn't have a lot of money. We saw echoes of this a couple years ago when he objected to child labor laws, saying that poor children ought to be forced to get jobs. When it comes to treating the poor like livestock, breaking up families like slave traders used to do, the Right doesn't give a shit about the sanctity of the nuclear family. Like every other argument they employ, they don it only when it suits their purposes, and doff it just as quickly when it doesn't.

But the message they're attacking...I can't say it's no better, because it is. It still leaves a lot to be desired, though. It's this statement in particular that got to me:

"Of course, parents can and should raise their children with their own values, but they should be able to do so in a community that provides safe places to play, quality food to eat, terrific schools to attend, and economic opportunities to support them. No individual household can do that alone. We have to build that world together."

I daresay a good many homeschooling families who farm or run a family business would beg to differ. A family who lives in a concrete box, in a stack of concrete boxes, among row after row and block after block of similar concrete boxes, where the only safe place to play is one provided by the government, where the only food available is the food produced by somebody else, where the only option for educating a child is to ship him off to the indoctrination center, where the only economic opportunity is to sell hours of your life to other people's companies for their profit...undoubtedly, such a family can't provide these things alone. They're at a disadvantage. They're shackled to a life of urban interdependence.

But to make a general statement that no single household can provide these things is like sticking a hen in a battery cage and saying no individual hen can find her own food. It's truth in only very limited circumstances. I don't doubt that those limited circumstances are the only world Ms. Harris-Perry knows, so I don't believe she's trying to intentionally mislead anyone. But as a matter of cultural sensitivity, if nothing more, she needs to be aware that her statement is a slap in the face to households that DO manage to independently provide these things for their families.