woody zimmermann 120In 2008, The Rev. Jeremiah Wright – Barack Obama’s Chicago pastor – famously declaimed, “America’s chickens are comin’ home to roost…” The phrase – replayed repeatedly on broadcast media – was clearly meant as a portentous warning to America about race-relations. As a middle-class white suburbanite, I thought we had moved past all the hype about oppression, disadvantage, white privilege and black rage, so I mostly ignored The Rev’s screed. (Obviously embarrassed by it, Candidate Barack Obama seemed to do the same.)

Events of recent weeks, however, have caused me to reconsider my original dismissal of the “roosting chickens” warning – although probably not in the way the Rev meant it. Instead, the chickens I see “comin’ home to roost” are 50 years of failed, liberal, cradle-to-grave “social-support” policies that have enabled – yea, promoted – an appalling wreckage of minorities’ family-culture. Two depressing measures of that collapse are out-of-wedlock births and abortions.

Currently, 72.2% of births in the black community occur out of wedlock. That measure was 20% in 1960. By 1970 it reached 38%; then 55% in 1980, and 67% in 1990. (In the Hispanic population the current illegitimacy rate is 53.5%; among non-Hispanic whites it’s 29.4%.)

More alarming still is the abortion-count. Black teens aged 15 to 19 abort 41 of 1,000 pregnancies (i.e., 4%). This is more than twice the national average of 18 per 1,000 (1.8%). White teens abort 10 of every 1,000 pregnancies (1%), meaning that black abortions are four times the rate of white abortions. In New York – the state with the highest abortion rate in the country – black teens abort 67 out of every 1,000 pregnancies (6.7%). Experts say, however, that these data are unreliable, since accurate measure of the black abortion rate is virtually impossible.

A century ago, “progressives” like Woodrow Wilson and Margaret Sanger championed Eugenics – a movement which advocated abortion, forced sterilization, and other draconian measures to “cleanse” the human race of inferior people (i.e., Africans, Indians and other brown races). The aim was creation of a nation of white people who would help America reach its full potential.

Modern young women who are taught that Sanger is the “patron saint” of abortion might be shocked to learn how her policies played out over the 20th century. Her plan became Adolph Hitler’s model for his “racial purity” policies, which ultimately produced the industrial-scale murder of 6 million Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, blacks, the disabled, and the mentally deficient. (The Nazis called them “Untermenschen,” or subhumans.) Wilson died in the 1920s, before the Nazis really got things rolling, but Sanger lived until 1966. There is no record of whether she was pleased by how Der Führer implemented her theories. One imagines that she would be amazed at how well they caught on in the USA.

You don’t need a degree in sociology to see that the abortions and illegitimate births are not salutary situations for minorities. But this is more than just a tragedy for the black community. It is a national catastrophe – a firestorm that is sapping America’s strength and vitality. It is a raging, out-of-control inferno that steadily consumes everything – morality, decency, social restraint, industry, talent, creativity – while officials run around in panic with no idea what to do.

Don Corleone famously asked, “How did things ever get so far?” But unlike the Don, we have a pretty good idea of how we got here. Fundamentally, human life has lost its value in American culture – reaching its nadir in the black community (if “community” is still an appropriate word). What matters most now are government handouts – “Geld über alles,” as the Germans would say.

People in these communities may be poor and disadvantaged, but they’re not stupid. They have adjusted their living style to maximize their eligibility for government largess. As rules evolved that furnished greater benefits to households lacking a man, fathers were banished by practical women who saw financial advantage in going it alone. This has produced the horrendous illegitimacy rate that we see in the above data. Worse yet, it produced a fatherless society that replaced the strong family structure that had sustained the American black culture for over 300 years – all through the slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow eras. None of these could defeat the black family, but LBJ’s Great Society did it in just two generations. A politician whose name is long forgotten observed: “Even when we try to help these people, we end up hurting them…”

The community of color knew things weren’t going well by the turn of the 21st century, but then came the 9/11 attacks and the Middle East wars that followed. All political energy was focused on the physical threats posed by terrorism, with little social energy left to help people who had been left by the economic wayside.

Thereupon a miraculous figure appeared on the scene. He was slim, handsome, well-turned-out, silver-tongued, and dark of skin. Barack Hussein Obama looked like the answer to many prayers. He seemed almost messianic. His message was “hope.” He said he would transform the country and make everything right. Minorities embraced him, as they had rarely embraced any candidate before. Many whites believed his promises of a “post-racial” society that would finally be freed from the chains of racial animosity and strife. A white TV jock said a “thrill” ran up his leg when he heard Obama speak. Magician-like, he snatched the Democrats’ ball from the hands of the “inevitable” Hillary Clinton at the 1-yard line. His election was just a few ruffles and flourishes short of a coronation; his inauguration as near to a “rapture” as the Republic has probably ever seen. Minority leaders marveled that such a glorious day had arrived.

But dashed hopes can be as bitter as gall. Six-and-a-half years into Obama’s “transformative” presidency, the wheels have come off the Deliverance Chariot. The economy – in the doldrums since 2009 – is going nowhere. Incomes are stagnant. Rigged numbers seem to show that unemployment is down, but the fraction of Americans actually working is at its lowest level since the Carter administration. Unemployment among black men ranges from 25% to as high as 30%. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis calls this “unacceptably high.” (Admirable analysis!) Experts estimate that in some cities the fraction of young black men gainfully employed is only 20% (i.e., 80% unemployed). These are levels not seen since the Great Depression.

Yet not a single word has been spoken about this national catastrophe by His Serene Obamaness. Black Agenda Managing Editor Bruce Dixon notes that black unemployment is higher now than when the Great Recession of 2008 ended, nearly six years ago. He writes:

“In the president's world, since blacks fear to criticize the president, black unemployment just doesn't matter. But if you live in places like Milwaukee, a mere 90 miles from the door of Obama's south side Chicago home, or even a mile west on 51st street from the Obamas, massive black unemployment is a crucial and unavoidable fact of collective life.”

Black thinkers like Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams know where the blame belongs. They know Obama is totally out of his depth in the office. But the black community, who voted for Mr. Obama twice, in great numbers, can’t figure it out. They know they’ve been had, but they don’t seem to know how, or by whom. All they know is that they’re “mad as hell,” and they’re not gonna take it anymore.

Every big-city black population has become a grenade waiting to go off. A month ago, the Baltimore grenade finally blew up. When a young black man, Freddie Gray, died from injuries he sustained while being transported in a police van, riots broke out across the city. Over the course of three weeks, some 200 businesses were burned, scores were injured, and hundreds were arrested. After the city’s black mayor, Stephanie Rawlins-Blake, ordered cops to let the rioters have “space to destroy” Governor Larry Hogan sent in the National Guard to help restore order.

There is not enough space here to describe the Baltimore scene more fully, even if I knew all the details. But the bottom line is that black officials at every level – including Mayor Rawlins-Blake, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and President Barack Obama – rushed to blame the riots on systemic racism in the Baltimore Police Department. President Obama consulted with race-agitator Al Sharpton, who then traveled to Baltimore to look after (i.e., stir up) the racial issue. State’s Attorney Mosby pronounced Freddie Gray’s death a “homicide.” She went ahead of a grand jury to charge six policemen with murder. Ironically, three of those six officers were also black.

Throughout Barack Obama’s presidency, opponents have frequently charged that he sees too many things through the prism of race – that he is racially obsessed. That sounds like a psychiatric diagnosis, and I’m not a psychiatrist. I’m not a chicken, either, and I can’t lay an egg. But I can tell if one is rotten. I don’t need to be a shrink to know that something stinks in the way this administration looks at and treats social problems. There is a serious problem there.

In fact, everything is not about race. Liberals’ dirty secret is that they are using race as a smokescreen to obscure the abject failure of socialist liberal policies that have had numerous American cities by the throat for the last 50 years. Charlatans like Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Stephanie Rawlins-Blake, Hillary Clinton – and a host of others too numerous to mention – hope to skate past the damage their policies have done to minorities by blaming the wreckage on racism, on Republican “skinflints,” on George W. Bush, on climate-change, and on anything else that comes conveniently to hand.

Yes, America’s chickens are comin’ home to roost. The veil hiding the problem is being shredded by perceptive men and women of color. Eventually – hopefully soon – minorities will realize that government is not the answer to their problems. Instead (as Ronald Reagan often said), “Government is the problem.” Let’s hope that Americans won’t have to clean up too many droppings from those roosting “chickens” before we achieve an opportunity-rich society that helps everyone.

Minorities need what all people need and want:

  • Rearing of children by a loving, whole, two-parent family;
  • A sound education that teaches children the skills and knowledge to become useful and productive citizens;
  • A decent, orderly society where people can live without fear of violence or fraud;
  • Useful work that pays enough to live on and raise a family;
  • A personal sense of accomplishment that derives from industry and self-sufficiency;
  • Sensible, efficient government that promotes and enables all of these good things.

In the Lord’s Providence, may we finally cast out those so-called “leaders” whose worthless careers are constructed entirely on a never-ending, soul-destroying message of envy and divisiveness which insists that you can’t get your share of the “pie” unless you take from another. That insidious idea is neither charity nor alms. It is not a Christian principle of any kind. It never builds up, but only tears down. As a nation, we shall either get free of it or die. It must go.

As much as anyone else – and more so than most – minorities will celebrate a “new birth of freedom” when deliverance from the chains of socialism finally comes. I pray for that day. May I live to see it.