After thirty-three-year-old single mother Danielle Blais drowned her six-year-old autistic son in a bathtub in 1996,90 the president of the Quebec Autism Society, Peter Zwack, leapt to the murderous mother's defense by explaining that an autistic child would be especially hard on a single mother: “She was all alone and that would have made things even more impossible.”91 Yes, even for someone with the parenting skills of a Danielle Blais!
How many crimes went unsolved in Orlando, Florida, while Casey Anthony led the police on one wild-goose chase after another? How many criminals escaped detection and capture in Union, South Carolina, while the police were tied up searching for Susan Smith's children when she knew they were at the bottom of a lake? Massive police resources were wasted, locally and nationally, looking for Smith's children for nine days, while she refused to tell the police that she had killed her children herself. What emergencies was the Westminster, Colorado, fire department unable to respond to while they were putting out the fire set by Tami Lynn Richards's children while she was at a bar? What crimes did the Nashville police fail to stop while they were dealing with children who died after being left in their mother's sweltering car overnight?
IT's BAD ENOUGH THAT SINGLE MOTHERS ARE A GIANT DRAIN
on society, but it is really too much to be constantly asked to feel sorry for them. Instead of being grateful, these societal parasites whine about being victimized. In 2006, the liberal magazine In These Times complained that from “Reagan's ‘welfare queens,’ Quayle's criticism of Murphy Brown and now Bush's dramatic slashing of social programs— single mothers have been under attack over the last 20 years.”92
Also in 2006, participants at a National Women's Studies Association meeting raged about the untold cruelties visited upon single mothers. Even Hillary Clinton had thoughtlessly “jumped on the marriage promotion bandwagon,” according to one speaker. These harpies demanded that single motherhood be affirmed as “the right of women.”93 Analysis that insightful is usually heard from people dressed in multiple layers of filthy clothing on a hot summer's day and pushing a grocery cart full of bottles and cans down an alley. But the idea that society owes single mothers has become conventional wisdom in America.
Even single mothers who became that way through artificial insemination are celebrated as deserving victims, which, unless they're claiming to have tripped and landed on top of a turkey baster full of semen, is not true.
Liberals view single women having babies by artificial insemination as a feminist success story. In an upbeat article about artificially inseminated single mothers, a New York Times reporter happily observed that a woman “can now select the father of her child from her living room and have his sperm sent directly to her doctor. It is faster and cheaper than adoption, and allows women to bear their own genetic offspring.”94
But it's not all sunshine and song. Some intolerant people make remarks that are hurtful to women who have made the difficult, deeply personal choice to ruin their own child's life. As Babytalk magazine somberly reported, “Unmarried moms do feel the sting of prejudice.”95
The New York Times noted that the “most common accusation” is that intentional single mothers are “selfish,” which the Times explained was based on a “widely held belief that two-parent homes are best for children.” One of the single mothers by artificial insemination indignantly reported that a friend had suggested that she “channel” her nurturing instincts into working at a children's hospital instead of becoming a single mother. To this impertinent remark, she retorted, “Can you say ‘condescending’??”96
Another single mother by artificial insemination said that “the child was more important than the partner.”97 She might want to check with the child on that one. But the Times explained that these women have seen friends in unhappy marriages. What does the child's life chances matter when a woman is “not willing,” as the Times article said, “to settle for ‘Mr. Almost Right’ in order to have a baby”?98
The Los Angeles Times quoted another single mother by artificial insemination, who said, “You're paying for it, so you kind of want the best of the best.”99 Call me old-fashioned, but when someone is promoting eugenics like that I prefer it in the original German. So she got the best sperm to create a child that she will raise in the worst possible environment for the development of a well-adjusted human being: fatherless. One member of Single Mothers by Choice sacrificed premarital sex while she was pregnant, which I gather is considered a herculean feat these days. “You go through an awful lot of trouble to get pregnant,” she said. “You don't want to blow it on one night of fun.”100 Perhaps she'll be able to use that years later to browbeat her kid when he misbehaves. “I didn't sacrifice countless hours of casual sex to have you so you could live like a pig! Now go clean your room!”
In one of several pieces over the years celebrating single mothers by choice, Marie Claire magazine ran stories of various such heroes, including one artificially inseminated single mother who bravely confronted society's “belief that a child should have a father. She recounted an e-mail exchange with a colleague after he found out she was pregnant:
“I didn't know that you were married,” he wrote.
“I'm not,” I replied, annoyed.
“Who's the father?” he pressed.
“I don't know his name,” I shot back.101
Next, the artificially inseminated single mother let a post office worker have it for being confused when she gave “none” as the father's name: “The clerk at the crowded post office couldn't fathom it. ‘Every child has a father!’ she kept insisting. Finally, I shouted back, ‘Well, mine has a sperm donor!’ The room fell silent.”102 And to think people used to say single mothers are “overtly dominant, aggressive, narcissistic and bitterly hostile.”103
These women are inflicting social pathologies on their own children for which society will pay and all we get are upbeat articles about how nice it is that single women were able to conceive. “I could not have imagined my life without being a mother,” one artificially inseminated single mother said. “This wasn't a hard decision for me. For me it was an absolute.”104 Isn't that nice for her? Isn't it an “absolute” for car thieves that they take the car? At least she has the one trait that makes for a great mother: a narcissistic obsession with self-indulgence. It's as if society were under attack by a pack of wolves, while the blabocracy praises the wolves, builds them habitats, and publishes books on how to breed more wolves.
SOCIETY LOVES SINGLE MOTHERS SO MUCH WE KEEP CREATING more and more of them. In 2003, there were more than 10 million single mothers in the United States, up from about 3 million in 1970.105 How did this happen? The plague of single motherhood isn't merely an inevitable decay brought on by stupid choices of the underclass. It is the active social policy of liberals. After winning a Pulitzer Prize, the Left's author laureate Toni Morrison told Time magazine in 1989, “The little nuclear family is a paradigm that just doesn't work. It doesn't work for white people or for black people. Why we are hanging on to it, I don't know.”106 (Of course, Toni Morrison was also under the impression that Bill Clinton was a black man.) Gloria Steinem's most dazzling accomplishment was coming up with the saying “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”—proving that a woman has to be twice as stupid as a man does in order to be recognized as stupid. The National Organization for Women sells a bumper sticker with the motto “One Nuclear Family Can Ruin Your Whole Life.”107
Barbara Ehrenreich, a columnist for Time magazine in the 1990s, wrote that the family is “personal hell,” a “nest of pathology and a cradle of gruesome violence,” where “we learn nasty things like hate and rage and shame.”108 To paraphrase Pat Buchanan's response to Hillary Clinton's comparison of the family to slavery: Speak for yourself, Barbara. She cites a “long and honorable tradition of ‘anti-family’ thought” that, oddly enough, includes nothing from C. S. Lewis, Paul Johnson, John Dos Passos, Flannery O'Connor, Thomas Sowell, or any other conservative favorites.<
The French philosopher Charles Fourier taught that the family was a barrier to human progress; early feminists saw a degrading parallel between marriage and prostitution. More recently, the renowned British anthropologist Edmund Leach stated that “far from being the basis of the good society, the family, with its narrow privacy and tawdry secrets, is the source of all discontents.”109
I guess these are household names among liberals. Ehrenreich, who, surprisingly enough, is divorced, sneers at “a culture that fetishizes the family as the ideal unit of human community.”110 She claims that “for a woman, home is, statistically speaking, the most dangerous place to be.”111
There's wrong and then there's crazy wrong. According to the U.S. Justice Department crime statistics, domestic abuse is virtually nonexistent for married women living with their husbands. From 1993 to 2005, the number of married women victimized by their husbands ranged from 0.9 to 3.2 per 1,000. Domestic violence was about 40 times more likely among divorced or separated women, ranging from 37.7 to 118.5 per 1,000. Even never-married women were more than twice as likely to be victims of domestic violence as married women.112 Evidently, the safest place for a woman to be is at home with her husband.
In another passage suggesting that Ehrenreich was raised on a different planet, she says, “The larger culture aggrandizes wife beaters, degrades women or nods approvingly at child slappers.”113 True, domestic violence skyrocketed the first year of Clinton's presidency and again the year of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.114 But not to worry— Caligula is gone! Even Democrats rejected his wife as their presidential nominee in 2008. Of course, he would have been gone a lot sooner without liberals like Ehrenreich denouncing the “sexual Puritanism” of those of us trying to impeach him.
Ehrenreich says she is merely brave enough to state what “we all know.” As proof that “we all” loathe the traditional family, she cites the public interest in O.J.'s murder of his ex-wife, the Menendez brothers’ murder of their parents, and Lorena Bobbitt's attack on her husband's private parts. “Our unseemly interest in O.J. and Erik, Lyle and Lorena,” she says, “allow us, however gingerly, to break the silence on the hellish side of family life.”115 I guess our unseemly interest in the missing Natalee Holloway case allowed us to break our silence on the hellish side of summer vacations and our unseemly interest in the Martha Moxley murder allowed us to break our silence on the hellish side of Greenwich, Connecticut.
In another upbeat article for Time magazine, Ehrenreich airily announced that society should concern itself with encouraging “good divorces.” The goal, she says, should be “to de-stigmatize divorce” and to “concentrate on improving the quality of divorces.” She suggests that couples be forced by the government to plan for divorce before marriage by “requiring prenuptial agreements specifying how the children will be cared for in the event of a split.”116 Children of divorce “already face enough tricky interpersonal situations,” she said, without everyone acting as though divorce is a bad thing. Surely a society that smiles upon divorce will compensate for Mommy and Daddy not living together. While we're at it, if society would stop harping about drunk driving, I think it would really perk up paraplegics who became that way by driving drunk.
This is mainstream liberal thought. Ehrenreich wrote these inanities not on the Daily Kos blog but in Time magazine. She has been regularly featured in the New York Times, The New Republic, and The Atlantic Monthly. As Irving Kristol said, “Rot and decadence [are] no longer the consequence of liberalism but [are] the actual agenda of contemporary liberalism.”117
Still, the Left's transformation of society from family-based to single-mother-based has been accomplished with astonishing speed. Author Maggie Gallagher, who, as an erstwhile single mother, speaks with some authority, says the problem is that people shrink from addressing the social disasters of their friends. People are mum about the horror of single motherhood—if they know a single mother. They refuse to condemn divorce—if they know a divorcee. They can't think of a single objection to gay adoption—if they know a gay couple that has adopted. Gallagher says this allows “upscale conservatives to hurl stigmas at unwed moms”—but not divorced single mothers—“without having to insult anyone they actually know.”118
That would help explain how marriage, the central force in transmitting civilization, has unraveled with such alacrity. Starting only a few decades ago, liberals launched a three-front attack on marriage through the courts, the welfare system, and popular culture. With each incremental gain, their advances grew geometrically as people lost the ability to condemn what their family, friends, and neighbors were doing. By now, as G. K. Chesterton said, “The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has … all the exhilaration of a vice.”119
Welfare bureaucrats paid single women money just for having children out of wedlock, liberal justices on the Supreme Court stripped away the legal benefits of marriage, and pop culture glamorized single motherhood far more than cigarette companies have ever dreamed of glamorizing smoking. While masquerading as socially conscious do-gooders speaking for society's victims, liberals created a world where there would be a constant supply of new victims in need of their merciful aid. An illegitimate child might or might not be better off by having contact with his biological father. But social workers would definitely be better off with a lot more illegitimate children.
Time and again, organizations purporting to speak for the children urged the courts to abolish the legal protections of marriage. To quote Irving Kristol again, liberalism “aims simultaneously at political and social collectivism on the one hand, and moral anarchy on the other. It cannot win, but it can make us all losers.” The problem with liberalism, he says, “is liberalism.”120
The idiocy of paying single women to have illegitimate children has been so thoroughly explored, especially by Charles Murray in his groundbreaking book Losing Ground, that even President Clinton was compelled to sign the welfare reform bill that Newt Gingrich's Republican Congress sent him in 1996. No liberals resigned in protest over Clinton's getting oral sex from a White House intern, but Peter Edel-man and other liberals resigned from the Department of Health and Human Services to protest Clinton's signing of the welfare reform bill. Liberals all swear to believe in evolution, but their own development since the 1930s is an example of devolution: Frances Perkins, FDR's secretary of labor, strenuously opposed granting welfare benefits to unwed mothers on the grounds that it would encourage women to have children out of wedlock. She had worked in a home for unwed mothers, and had seen up close the damage wrought by illegitimacy.121
To eliminate the pain of illegitimacy, liberals set out to destroy the stigma attached to illegitimacy, rather than to reduce its incidence. They turned a small problem into a national crisis by attacking laws that supported the idea that children should be born within marriage. Stigma or no stigma, the damage done to children born outside of marriage is the same.
From various Supreme Court decisions stripping marriage of its legal benefits, through Hillary Clinton's comparison of marriage and the family to “slavery and the Indian reservation system,”122 right up to the Left's freakish obsession with gay marriage today, liberals have never been able to grasp the point of marriage. The only interest society has in marriage is its ability to harness men's energy and direct it to the upbringing of particular children, allowing children to grow up in a secure environment and not become rapists and serial killers. Because of the vital importance of marriage to creating half-decent human beings, civilized society has traditionally accorded a man no rights to his children—and the mother few or no claims upon the father—in the absence of marriage. Fathers of illegitimate children in colonial times would be pursued for minimal child support only to prevent the children from becoming wards of the state.
Ironically, the legal abolition of marriage was facilitated not by single mothers but by the archetypal villain in most liberal fairy tales: white men. Malingering unem
From the beginning of history up until April 3, 1972, the law generally presumed that unwed fathers were not fit to raise their children. It was this statutory presumption that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in Stanley v. Illinois (1972). (The Stanley case was argued by attorney Patrick T. Murphy, who not only persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to ditch the legal benefits of marriage in Stanley, but years later would help persuade a state agency to return a three-year-old to his abusive mother, who later hanged the boy. Calling him a “Defender of Chicago's Children,” the New York Times hailed Murphy for believing that children should stay with their biological parents whenever possible123— apparently, even violent, unwed, and unfit biological parents.)
Despite there being nothing in the Constitution about fathers’ rights to children sired out of wedlock, the Supreme Court in Stanley found that it had the authority to nullify Illinois's statutory presumption that unwed fathers were unfit parents pursuant to the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Peter Stanley had sought legal guardianship of his three biological children after their mother died and Illinois initiated a hearing to find legal guardians for them. Such a proceeding, obviously, would have been unnecessary had Stanley been married to their mother. But in eighteen years with her, Stanley had never sought a legal relationship either with her or their children together. After the mother died, he turned the children over to another couple, who also had no legally enforceable obligations to the children. Though Stanley apparently had no interest in obtaining actual custodianship of the children, he was particularly concerned, as Justice Warren Burger said in his dissent, “with the loss of the welfare payments he would suffer as a result of the designation of others as guardians of the children.”