July 1st, 2022


The (other) American shutdown(s)

Jay Ambrose

By Jay Ambrose

Published Dec. 31, 2018

The (other) American shutdown(s)
The talk on the news these days is mostly about a shutdown and when it is going to be over, how much it matters, whether it isn't more about dysfunctional politics than anything else and what side of the "wall" issue is more nearly right.

As I have heard the word more and more -- first off there was going to be a shutdown and then there wasn't and then it was here, oh dear -- I have put it in a more far-reaching, symbolic context. After all, we're entering a new year and just maybe giving thought to fresh beginnings and escape from the worst around us. Might we sum up the worst by saying America is in a partial shutdown?

All over the place, a workable way of things has been unplugged or replaced or deserted. Not a few institutions, for instance, have given up on their missions. Proven norms are getting squashed. The idea of truth has taken a fall among intellectuals. The new political fad is an old political failure called socialism. Identity politics divides and makes things worse. We have activists against sexism promoting sexism against men. And political correctness has become incorrect to the point of offending the kind of common sense that gets you safely across the street.

I get it that we are the wealthiest, strongest nation in the world, almost surely the freest despite brass-knuckled assaults, and that we still bloom with innovation and more charitable giving than any place else. The list goes on, but the opposing list does, too.

And so let's talk about the dissolution of one of the most important features of our society or any society known in history: the family.

It has dissolved to the point that 42 percent of children in this country live without their father in the home. This is a horror for them. The mother is often left with more than she can handle. Men do in fact bring something special to the raising of children, just as women do. The children are deprived of lessons they need to learn and of a human being who is more than lessons. Let's look at some of the consequences.

Various studies, many of them by the federal government, show, for instance, that 85 percent of children haunted by behavioral disorders are from fatherless homes. Youth suicides? 63 percent are from fatherless homes, it's reported. If you find a homeless child, there's a 90 percent chance he or she comes from a fatherless home, and if you find a high school dropout, chances are 71 percent. Turn the other direction, to such positives as children getting A's or staying away from drugs or staying away from crime or prison, and the odds are high that they have a dad around.

Obviously, huge numbers of children from fatherless homes are as terrific as they come, and just as obviously, you don't want some fathers in the home – they can be terrors. Fathers are often irresponsible and flee the scene. Divorce, death and the wisdom of the mother are other causes of their absence. It is the case, too, that vast numbers of children without a father around are children of women who never get married in the first place.

When I have written about this before I have received emails saying it is an insult to women to say that a father is needed. I think it is disdain for children and the facts to say that fathers do not mostly make a positive difference.

So much to say, so little space, but let's say something about those universities that say hooey to Western civilization while focusing instead on courses about identity groups. Let's wonder why they feel justified to forget Shakespeare in English courses. What happened to the Boy Scouts? Is it OK to fire people on the basis of normal political beliefs? Are you aware that trust is evaporating in America? What has the opioid crisis told us? What has happened to the objectivity standard in the reporting of certain news outlets? Are Halloween costumes the new evil?

America almost always pretty much fixes itself, but this shutdown could go on for a while. Nevertheless, happy New Year and please make resolutions to help.

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Jay Ambrose

Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado.