The Corner

Law & the Courts

On Last Night’s ‘Town Hall’ on Police and Race

I noted Wednesday that, in his speech at the Dallas memorial service, “the president ignored [an] elephant in the room: He said not a word about the catastrophic out-of-wedlock birthrate among African Americans, especially in our inner cities.” 

I noted that I’m not happy about this fact, but it has to be faced. I said that this is what drives racial disparities in our country, including disparities in crime rates, so that a disproportionate number of young black males find themselves at odds with the police.

I pointed out that more than seven out of ten African Americans are born out of wedlock, more than six out of ten Native Americans, and more than five out of ten Latinos; versus fewer than three out of ten whites, and fewer than two out of ten Asian Americans. That is a huge range, and it is no coincidence that it lines up precisely with how well the different groups are doing in any aspect of American life you want to look at.  

I concluded that the rise in out-of-wedlock birthrates is the single most important domestic problem our country faces. And I asked, “Will the president ensure that this becomes part of the national conversation we are having on race and crime?”

The answer is, “No.”

President Obama had every opportunity to say something, anything about this issue at tonight’s town hall.  He talked a lot about the underlying problems in inner-city communities that lead to more crime there. So he talked about the need there for more jobs and better schools and mental health care. He talked, naturally, a lot about guns. And he went through this litany several times.  

He talked about how these communities needed to be healthier. He said a lot about the need for more government programs, and he even said that parents need to parent. When he was talking with a single mom with six children, he proudly noted that he was raised by a single mom.

So, as I said, President Obama had every opportunity to mention the fact that children who are raised by married parents are much less likely to get into trouble than those who aren’t.

But he didn’t.  Not a single word.

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