Catholic Journal US
“Liberals blew it,” declared Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times (March 12, 2015), when Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote his now famous 1965 report on the family breakdown among African Americans. Moynihan, then in the Nixon White House before he would go on to become the U.S. Senator from New York, warned that the rise of single-parent households would ensure and accelerate high poverty rates among blacks.
Moynihan focused his report only on African Americans. His report immediately became an issue of race, as black civil rights leaders and many academics attacked him for being a racist. Civil rights leader Floyd McKissick captured critical sentiment in stating, “My major criticism of the report is that it assumes that middle-class American values are correct values for everyone.”
40.7% of U.S. Births
Moynihan was prescient in his warnings fifty years ago. By 2013, 72.2 percent of black children in the U.S. were born out of wedlock. What Moynihan did not realize, however, was how out-of-wedlock births would spread like a virus to other groups. The federal compilation of out-of-wedlock births in 2013 showed a rate of 66.9 percent for Native Americans, 53 percent for Hispanics, and 29.4 percent for non-Hispanic whites. Overall 40.7 percent of U.S. births were reported as out of wedlock.
Feminists like to talk about a new non-patriarchal family structure being born, in which mothers, grandmothers, aunts and others help raise children. Katie Roiphe, a professor of journalism at New York University, typifies this view in her New York Times op-ed on August 18, 2012, “In Defense of Single Motherhood.” She dismisses claims of the destruction caused in single-parent households as conservatives obsessing over “moral decline” and liberals worrying “extravagantly” and “condescendingly” about a problem she feels really does not exist. Those worrying about the breakdown of the family “exhibit a fundamental lack of imagination about what family can be.”
Roiphe notes that she has two children with two different fathers, neither of whom she lives with, and both of whom are “close.” She says that she is not the “typical” single mother, but “then there is no typical single mother any more than there is a typical mother. It is, in fact, our fantasies and crude stereotypes of this ‘typical single mother’ that get in the way of a more rational, open-minded understanding of the variety and richness of different kinds of families.”
She opines further, “The structure of my household is messy, bohemian, warm. If there is anything that currently oppresses the children, it is the idea of the way families are ‘supposed to be,’ an idea pushed . . . on American children at a very early age and with surprising aggressiveness.”