I just read a piece about ‘The State of White America’ by Charles Murray. He is a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute. I’m going to call him a pundit. He may be a scholar but his work, in my humble opinion, doesn’t seem to have the necessary support that I’d expect of someone writing a thesis on ‘White America’.
Look, I’m certainly not a scholar! I would call myself someone who can read and who has been known to think logically every once in a while. Still I can see the holes in Mr. Murray’s research. He appears to suggest that the American fabric is crumbling and that it’s largely the fault of, well, of poor people. See, he says it nice in rich White America! But in that other place? That dystopian paradise? That is the dark and messy America where everything is falling apart. Well, you see what you think-
He talks about Belmont which is everything you’d expect in a fairy tale about America- well, everything but the streets paved with gold. On the other hand he talks about Fishtown which isn’t quite ghetto, but it also isn’t the kind of place most American’s want to gravitate toward. It’s population is poor with a lot of unwed mothers and lazy or absent fathers.
I’m so mad I could spit.
I grew up just outside of Fishtown. I mean that quite literally. My neighborhood wasn’t any better than Fishtown’s. As I remember it I thought Fishtown actually had it’s own sort of prestige because it had better holiday displays during Christmas than my neighborhood did , which probably happened because there were more Jews in my neighborhood and sheesh, Jews were really sort of standoffish, plus they weren’t big on Christmas lights.
I’m sorry. I just can’t be serious about Murray’s version of ‘White America’. The reality is there have always been divisions in American society. The only thing that changes is who is aligned with whom against whom.
Like he feels that the Belmont class goes to church more often, has fewer children out of wedlock and fewer people imprisoned. In defense of Fishtown and neighborhoods like Fishtown’s I’d say that poor people don’t brag about attending church when they don’t sit in the pews. They don’t just write a check and call themselves members. They are either faithful or they aren’t. I don’t mean to disparage the faith of the elite, but I’ll bet their relationship to their churches are a little different than the relationships of folks to their church in economically depressed neighborhoods.
Now let’s look at unwed mothers. Murray says that unwed mothers have to bring home the bacon as well as handle the role of both parents and I guess that is the reason he thinks that fathers are necessary. He said that people that live in his Belmont tend to stay married longer especially when they share children. It seems to me that it’s a lot easier to stay in a relationship when one party can take a vacation! There is more ‘breathing space’ in families where there is extra dough.
Murray ignores that and seems to believe that the behavior of the people in Belmont, or in Fishtown is acculturated. He actually wrote that married fathers, mostly in Belmont we presume, are useful when it comes to attending meetings to get things done in order to promote the health of their families. He said unmarried fathers weren’t as interested in that kind of effort. My question? Is that true only in economically depressed areas? Or is it possible that that is true even in richer enclaves? Are rich non-married fathers attending PTA meetings? Or are they showing up at city halls to fight for 4 way stop signs? I have a feeling it’s just a silly thing to say.
And lastly it’s outrageous to say that poorer people wind up in jail more often than rich people and then to attempt to use that fact as if it is evidence of anything. Poor people are rarely the folks involved in creating laws. The only thing that is evident is that things like sentencing guidelines or even the definition of what rises to the level of a crime are different in rich areas and poor areas.
But then I’m no scholar. I grew up right next to Fishtown! I’m uneducated and probably lower class.