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March 12, 2014

President Obama focuses on problems caused by fatherlessness in America


It is particularly gratifying to see that the most powerful man in the world has decided to focus on problems that arise from fatherlessness in America.

President Obama's "My Brother's Keeper," a program meant to "empower boys and young men of color," concentrates the presidential bully pulpit on a dire problem that has festered for too long in our country. And this president, as a mixed-race man who grew up without his own father, may be uniquely qualified to make a difference.

Kathleen Parker, the syndicated columnist whose home is in Camden, stated the challenge well in a recent column:

Whatever brought him here, he may as well be reading from an old text -- the 1965 Moynihan Report, when then-Assistant Labor Secretary Daniel Patrick Moynihan first sounded the alarm about family disintegration and fatherlessness in the black community.

Wrote Moynihan the following year: "A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken homes, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future -- that community asks for and gets chaos."...

Since the 1960s, as women have made strides toward greater empowerment, the trend of fatherlessness has been largely overlooked except by a few lonely voices in the media, including yours truly and, notably, Christina Hoff Sommers and Cathy Young. Otherwise, the noisemakers were men, mostly white, who garnered more mockery than consideration, drowned out by feminists who dismissed fathers as nonessential, often conflating the incidence of abusive or "bad" fathers with an indictment of men generally. Those who insisted otherwise were characterized as heretical pawns of the patriarchy.

Though this interpretation persists in smallish circles, we seem to have transcended such facile branding. It is harder to hold the antagonist's ground, moreover, when the president himself -- a black man who experienced the pain of father abandonment -- reiterates Moynihan's observations.

Whatever one's politics, this is great news for the country....

Of course, we emphatically agree. And we look forward to great things from "My Brother's Keeper."