Wake Up, People! This Is Me Telling You That the Old Answers Are Not Working!

Photo credit: WTKR televison

by James A. Bacon

How many children have to be killed, wounded and traumatized before people wake up?

Headline from today’s Virginian-Pilot: “Nearly a dozen children have been shot this month in Norfolk. Communities are hurting…”

And then it adds this kicker: “and activists want change.”

The Virginian-Pilot spoke with elected officials, community organizers, the city’s police chief, and nearly two dozen families impacted by the violence. There are lots of ideas out there — more funding for recreation centers, expanded peer mentorship, getting guns off the street. The usual suspects… all of which have been tried and all found lacking.

The story does extract the beginnings of insight from one person. Councilman Paul Riddick cuts to the quick: “We have no one but ourselves to blame,” he says, referring to city leaders “We have lost control of our youngsters.”

But then he says the city needs to redistribute money from wealthy areas to poor areas to build more libraries and recreation centers. Libraries? Are you kidding me? The City of Norfolk needs to build more libraries to reduce the number of random shootings?

Here’s an idea. What if parents took matters into their own hands and rode herd on their friggin’ youngsters?

If’ that’s too hard, here’s another idea: Stop having babies out of wedlock! Raise children in the same home as their biological mother and father! Anyone who has raised children knows how tough the job is. Two committed parents sharing the burden can do much better than one.

If the neighborhood is too darn dysfunctional to raise a child under any conditions, here’s another idea: Don’t have children until both parents have jobs and can afford to move to a decent neighborhood where drive-by shootings don’t occur!

I know I sound like a Neanderthal, but hear me out. There have been three or four generations born and raised in American inner cities since the 1960s welfare revolution — three or four generations of young, emotionally immature, financially strapped, single-mothers raising children. When immature, overwhelmed parents raise children, they tend not to do a good job. When those children become parents, many of them do an even worse job. When the grandchildren become parents, they do a downright wretched job. They have no idea how to control their children. The latest generation is, in a word, feral. Kids seek identity and purpose in gangs. Many have no moral foundation but the code of the streets. Other peoples’ lives mean nothing. They spray gunfire with no concern who they hurt. 

This is not a Black thing, by the way. There are plenty of multigenerational-poverty White families experiencing the same social breakdown who are sliding down the same self-destructive slope.

So, when I hear that it’s society’s responsibility to fix the problem — build more libraries and recreation centers, enact more gun controls, create more jobs programs, hire more community organizers as social workers, demand more taxes from middle-class families who delay having children into their 30s so they can be responsible parents — without asking anything, without asking one bloody, stinking thing from the people in the communities affected, I get a tad pissed off.

When I hear that the shootings are, at bottom, symptomatic of systemic racism, I get highly pissed off.

I tell you what, until the residents of the affected communities learn how to raise their children as civilized human beings instead of Lord of the Flies savages, nothing will change. All the government spending in the world won’t help. All the community organizers and social workers in the world won’t help. All the Critical Race Theory taught in schools won’t help. Yeah, I know that’s blasphemy, but I stand by it.

There is no substitute for the love and discipline that only committed parents (or grandparents) can provide. I want to help the people living in those communities. But until people demonstrate they are willing to help themselves by making fundamental, life-altering changes, I will object loudly when politicians want to pick my pocket to pay for more failed social programs.