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30 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Rand Paul cites a ‘lack of fathers’ in Baltimore. Here’s what the data actually show..

During a radio interview yesterday, Senator Rand Paul weighed in on the ongoing unrest in Baltimore. “I came through the train on Baltimore last night,” the Kentucky Republican and 2016 presidential candidate told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham.The need for a national conversation on race, policing and the crisis that exists in so many of our cities becomes greater with each event like the tragedy that is now gripping Baltimore. And try as he might, he can’t keep from having father problems. “There are so many things we can talk about,” Paul said, by way of trying to explain what had happened. “It’s something we talk about not in the immediate aftermath but over time: The breakdown of family structure, the lack of fathers, the lack of sort of a moral code in our society.” He added: “This isn’t just a racial thing; it goes across racial boundaries.” The comment about “lack of fathers” was quickly picked up by liberal media outlets (in part thanks to the unhappy coincidence that Paul’s own son was recently busted for DUI in Kentucky).

Paul’s chief Republican rivals for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. “I think that money is an advantage, but the other thing we have is we have millions of small donors, 5 and 10 dollars,” Mr. It’s often levied as a sort of broad-brush critique, along the lines of “why don’t they talk about black-on-black violence” (which we’ve addressed before). Paul said. “When I ran for the Senate, I had one supporter who sent me $13 out of every check every two weeks for two years.” “And so there’s a great deal of power in having small donors and having lots of them,” he said. “You also have to have something popular to say, and I think if I were on the Bush team, I’d be quite worried that with all that name recognition and all that money, that it looks like he’s right in the middle of the pack — not necessarily leading the pack.” “And to rise and to get more people to support you, you have to champion ideas that resonate with the conservative base, and that does not seem to be their strategy, so far,” he said. Reached by phone, a spokesperson for Amtrak, the owner of Baltimore’s rail transportation hub, confirmed that all Amtrak routes that travel through Baltimore make stops in Baltimore. “Amtrak continues to operate and make all scheduled stops at Baltimore Penn Station [and] the station remains open to ticketed passengers.” The implication in mentioning the absence of black fathers can be — but isn’t always — that there is a shortcoming in the black community that leads to bad behavior among young black people.

Bush — who has not officially declared his candidacy — has defended his comparatively moderate positions on immigration and education as he travels the country, but he has also spoken out, for example, against President Obama’s executive actions on immigration that the president announced in November. Paul’s brief mention of it, however, likely isn’t meant to be a shorthand, but instead to be a placemark for the discussion that he himself says should result from the violence in Maryland. He called for “a commitment to the rule of law” and said there should be a quick investigation into Freddie Gray’s death “so that people know that the system works for them.” On the fringe of the campaign, Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon and supposed presidential aspirant who never has anything useful to say, said the problem in Baltimore was that parents don’t have enough control of their children.

Hillary Clinton, at least, tried to address the real issues behind the eruptions of racial violence like we have seen in Baltimore, calling for an end to “the era of mass incarceration” during a speech at Columbia University today. Last week, the New York Times looked at America’s “missing black men” — the gap between the number of black women and black men that is often the result of incarceration. Clinton said, “I do not know all the answers.” But she correctly identified this country’s racist incarceration policies as a wrong that must be righted, though sadly not the only one.

It’s also worth noting that black fathers who didn’t live with their children were as engaged with their kids as were white and Hispanic fathers — and were more likely to talk with them multiple times a week or help them with their homework. There are studies that correlate single-parent households to increased rates of incarceration, but the correlation overlaps with a number of other factors, including poverty.

Paul’s too-quick comment missed the nuances of single-parent households that these statistics convey, and, in trying to point out that there are complex factors involved in what happened in Baltimore, oversimplifies the discussion by mentioning a controversial one without qualification. In communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men; communities where there’s no investment, and manufacturing has been stripped away; and drugs have flooded the community, and the drug industry ends up being the primary employer for a whole lot of folks — in those environments, if we think that we’re just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we’re not going to solve this problem.

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