Baltimore Ravings: The Remedy for America’s Cities, by Tony Perkins

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By Tony Perkins, Family Research Council, July 31, 2019

Nobody goes to the playgrounds anymore. They’re abandoned — except for the gangs. “You saw them selling drugs, right there,” reporter Lawrence Jones said, fuming. “Nobody came to break it up.” To the longtime residents of Baltimore, the changes have been staggering. “I’ve lived here 58 years,” one man explained, “and it was such an honor and pleasure to live here. And what I see now — sometimes I just drive through, and I’m almost in tears.” It may not be popular, but what the president said, one African-American woman told Lawrence, “it’s true.”

Away from Twitter and the national limelight, their stories were all the same. One after another, people admitted they were scared to raise a family in Baltimore — even though it was home. When President Trump was brutally honest about the nightmarish conditions of their city, most of the residents were just relieved someone finally cared enough to say something. “I understand in many circles, they think the conservative message wouldn’t be welcome here…” Jones said. “[But Baltimore] has tried the liberal message for over 70 years in this town, and it’s been reckless to the people here… They don’t care about the politics.” They want change.

Democrats, on the other hand, aren’t interested in change. They took the public spat between the White House and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) as another opportunity to stand in front of the cameras and call the president a racist. Apparently, that’s the only card the Left wants to play. Any time the president challenges the status quo in these urban settings, he’s prejudiced. But sometimes, as Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) told me on “Washington Watch,” that’s just a distraction from the real issue — and those distractions are what’s keeping us from addressing America’s most devastating problems.

“[Democrats] are taught in their campaign schools how to make every issue one about race… Their game plan in that regard is to try to holler racism so much that they’re able to cultivate black votes… but long-term for our country, the racial division that the Democratic party stokes is horrific… What we need to do is quit talking about skin pigmentation — because quite frankly, that is in no way, shape, or form a measure of a person’s character, what they’re going to do with themselves, [or] how successful they’re going to be with themselves. And the more the Democrats use race as an excuse, the more people who are of different skin pigmentation start thinking, ‘I cannot succeed, no matter how hard I work because of racism.’ And that’s wrong. We need to be inspiring people to work hard to overcome whatever hurdles are in front of them that they can be prosperous and enjoy America like so many hundreds of millions have enjoyed America.”

Obviously, the Left’s game plan is to shut down any form of discussion or debate — which, if it’s done civilly, could move us forward as a country. But when you throw out labels, like the far-Left has, you’re doing great damage to the United States of America. Racial division, we should all know by now, does no one any good. In the end, all it does is keep people trapped in a toxic environment that’s hurting generations of Americans. Because, at its heart, this isn’t a racial issue. This is a family issue. And the problem isn’t the presence of rats in Baltimore — it’s the absence of fathers.

Back in 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau found that about 26 percent of American kids were living without a dad in the home. In Baltimore, among African-American children, that rate was 69 percent. And, as Dr. Pat Fagan pointed out Tuesday, it’s probably closer to 87 or 89 percent now. “It’s really bad,” he said soberly. “[And] it’s intergenerational in most of our inner-cities [where there are] three, four generations of out-of-wedlock births — where the girls growing up and the boys growing up don’t know what marriage is because they’ve never experienced it. And of course, that comes with all sorts of deficits in their growing up. So the probability of things going wrong — not only is it high for them, but it gets higher for their kids and so on.”

It doesn’t matter what anyone’s income levels are, he insisted. “When parents break up, it damages the kid — and you see it coming out in their [school] performance.” Now, Dr. Fagan admitted, some children manage to work through those challenges and succeed, but if you look at the averages — “no matter what the income, no matter what [their level of education], if your parents split, you’re going to bear the burden probably throughout your life… And the further down you go in the income levels, the worse the effects.” Without a doubt, he said, that is the root cause of Baltimore’s collapse — and so many others’.

So how do we fix this? What do we do about an epidemic of fatherlessness? “Faith and family tend to go hand in glove,” Dr. Fagan said. “So in order to correct this, you would need a massive infusion of love, of dedication [to help people] get back on track. Government can tweak things at the edge — but government,” Dr. Fagan warned, “cannot tackle this.” He’s right. There has to be a commitment to helping people make better choices — the kind of decisions that can change their circumstances and lead them down a better path. In the end, it’s not throwing money at the situation, it’s walking alongside them. And who better to do that than the church?

Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.