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Opening Arguments

Collective wisdom

Since I posted about MSNBC' host Melissa Harris-Perry's outlandish "Children don't belong to their parents" claim, I suppose I should comment on her reaction to all the "hateful, personal attacks" she's received. She's not backing down, in fact rather proudly proclaims that she is doubling down:

I have no intention of apologizing for saying that our children, all of our children, are part of more than our households, they are part of our communities and deserve to have the care, attention, resources, respect and opportunities of those communities.

[. . .]

I believe wholeheartedly, and without apology, that we have a collective responsibility to the children of our communities even if we did not conceive and bear them. Of course, parents can and should raise their children with their own values. But they should be able to do so in a community that provides safe places to play, quality food to eat, terrific schools to attend, and economic opportunities to support them. No individual household can do that alone. We have to build that world together.

Well, sure, we have a collective responsibility for our children, and we're all in this together, and you watch out for me and I'll watch out for you, and what's controversial about that? But that's not exactly what she said in the promo, or, rather, not exactly the way she said it.  She said we need to "break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities." Now, perhaps she really did just mean we have to all take responsibility for the children -- sort of  "it takes a village" on steroids. But it sure sounds like a paean to collectivism that scares those with a libertarian bent right down to ours socks.

The proper way to look at children and the state is that parents have the right and duty to raise their children, and in doing that job should expect support and understanding from the community rather than indifference or outright hostility. But for those with a collectivist mind set, deference to the community is the default position. Some parents can't or won't do the job, so the state has to step in and do it for them, and usually in a way that compromises the efforts of parents whod do know what they're doing.




Harl Delos
Fri, 04/12/2013 - 11:29pm

Being uncomfortable about each side of the controversy over Melissa Harris Perry's "uncontroversial" statement, I straddle the fence and find that uncomfortable as well. Sure wish they put up shorter fences; male anatomy, you know.

In any case, I just ran across the NY Times' take on this, and I'm  uncomfortable with that, as well.  I think it's worth reading, though: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/10/melissa-harris-perrys-uncontroversial-comment-about-children/?src=recg