You’re Not a Lunatic? Thank Your Daddy.

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What do the violent extremes on the Left and the Right have in common?

They tend to come from fatherless or divorced homes.

That’s Mary Eberstadt’s observation in “The Fury of the Fatherless” in the current issue of First Things.

She recites the well-known statistical facts about fatherlessness in the inner-cities (65% of blacks are born into fatherless homes) and that “absent fathers predict higher rates of truancy, psychiatric problems, criminality, promiscuity, drug use, rape, domestic violence, and other less-than-optimal outcomes.”

She then points out that the BLM movement itself seems almost intuitively drawn to promote a society without fathers.

The BLM website at one point declared: “We disrupt the Western-­prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.”

Eberstadt: “Note the missing noun: fathers. It is as if fathers—as distinct from “parents”—had ceased to exist. And indeed, for at least some of the people drawn to BLM’s ideology, fathers have ceased to exist. In this sense, BLM is a direct heir of the founding document of identity politics, the Cohambee River Collective Statement put forward by black feminists in 1977. That manifesto spoke of women and children only—never of fathers, brothers, or sons.”

Alt-Right Daddy Problems

She also points to anecdotal evidence that it’s not just a Leftist problem, though her instances are all pointed at divorce only, which can be, but isn’t normally, the same thing as being born entirely out-of-wedlock or with no father in the picture:

“The founder of the white nationalist group Identity Evropa is a child of divorce.

The neo-Nazi who founded the alt-right media network The Right Stuff is a child of divorce.

George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party, was a child of divorce.

Timothy McVeigh, the poster boy and prototype for today’s violent far-right aspirants, was a child of divorce who was raised largely by his father. This list, too, could go on.”

Portland

And then there’s the peculiar case of fatherlessness in Portland. I’m a little embarrassed to say that this situation was entirely unknown to me:

“For more than thirty years, abandoned children and runaways have been a unique part of the city’s culture. And, for thirty years, documentaries and other reports on these lost children have abounded. It was Portland’s permissive approach to runaways that created the nation’s best-known subculture of “teen hobos,” “teen homeless,” and “street teens.” In Portland, the link between dysfunctional kids and absent authority figures has been clear for a long time now. As one researcher summarized: “The inability to emotionally connect with parents is a thread of commonality linking the narrative of street kids and travelers in Portland.”

“Lacking family ties, Portland’s feral children have bonded since the 1980s in “street families,” complete with “street moms” and “street dads.” Some of the most grotesque crimes in the city’s history have ensued thanks to “laws” about “family” loyalty—including last year, when a group of three boys from such a “family” shot and killed a man as he was collecting cans, then took his car on a joyride. “Street families” are an especially toxic variant of the current voguish phrase, “chosen families.” Street families are like gangs: poor and desperate substitutes for the real thing, called into being by the absence of the real thing.”

Is There an Answer in this Mess?

Pretty much everyone is distraught over the divide between red and blue America, between people of color and whites, between Christians and all others.

No one sees any answers.

The answer is pretty obvious: return fathers to kids’ lives. They might be liberal fathers, they might be conservative fathers. They might be black, white, atheist, Muslim, or Christian fathers.

But get the fathers back into the homes, preferably married to the kids’ mothers. That will, like a magic elixir, quell the madness.

I wish I had details about how to make this happen. I have a few half-baked ideas. But all of that will have to wait until another time.