By Bankole Thompson
Conservative ideologue and ABC analyst George Will became the latest right-wing intellectual parading as a self-appointed moralist to link Detroit’s gigantic financial problems on moral failure and collapse of the family system. But of course this narrative is so familiar among Republican Christians – right-wing evangelicals- because whenever these so-called Christians run out of any rational way of thinking, they run to the “moral card” for rescue as if we’ve not had a litany of major right-wing evangelicals who have been exposed for serious moral failures as it relates to their sexual indiscretions and other activities they once denounced.
During a July 28 taping of ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” Will suggested that “unmarried mothers” are also responsible for Detroit’s bankruptcy, the largest of its kind in U.S. history. And this is how Will explained it on the roundtable interview.
“You have a city, 139 square miles, you can crave cattle in vast portions of it, dangerous herds of feral dogs roam in there. Three percent of fourth graders reading at the national math standards, 47 percent of Detroit residents are functionally illiterate, 79 percent of Detroit children are born to unmarried mothers. They don’t have a fiscal problem, they have a cultural collapse,” Will said on ABC.
For a so-called analyst of Will’s own standing to abandon the economic argument facing municipalities across the country with Detroit being the latest litmus test, and instead opt for a moral crusade as the answer to this economic crisis is beyond any form of comprehension. Either it is a lazy job, an elitist approach or a downright racist diatribe because in plain conservative language, whenever “unwed mothers” are used in the argument it is meant to render white liberals as morally bankrupt in their alliance with black voters. And Detroit being a major black city it is no mistake that Will played the moral card in this instance.
So Will only showed his true color by offering a prognostic about Detroit that won’t pass the smell test. We’ve seen men and others like him before mask under a so-called intellectual debate while the argument that they are making is incoherent.
Will, could have done better than that. But like many on the national stage he is not only blinded by his own self-righteous rules, but also by the wrong narrative that has long confined Detroit’s image on the national scene.
Yes, the city has problems that are inexcusable, most of which have to be put at the feet of its leaders even though federal and state policies cannot be excused in this financial reckoning. But to blame the life style or choices that hard pressed and taxpaying residents make as a major factor for this collapse is insanity, intellectual dishonesty and a fraudulent argument put forth by a purported intellectual.
Why is it that whenever issues of economic significance are tabled, the masses or the majority poor are always blamed and their lifestyle brought up as the reason?
Was it unmarried mothers who caused the collapse of Wall Street?
Was it unwed mothers who caused the collapse of the international economic system that was bailed out by the Obama administration?
Was it unmarried mothers who forced homeowners out of their homes after buffeting them with subprime lending and incomprehensible loans and interest designed to create a rainy day on Wall Street?
Was it unwed mothers who were responsible for the economic crisis that greeted the Obama administration?
But we know why Wall Street collapsed. The greed and fierce competition of elitist white men.
George Will, and others like him can longer mask under “rational thinking” while offering us code words that we know are not only racist but elitist and downright dishonest. If this is what he has to offer Detroit’s economic crisis on national television maybe the longtime conservative ideologue has run out of ideas for the growing problems facing this nation, and it might just be time to bench him from the ABC roundtable.
Bankole Thompson is the editor of the Michigan Chronicle and author of the forthcoming 2014 book on Detroit titled “Rising From the Ashes: Engaging Detroit’s Future with Courage.” His most recent book “Obama and Christian Loyalty,” deals with the politics of the religious right, black theology and the president’s faith posture across a myriad of issues with an epilogue written by former White House spokesman Robert S. Weiner. He is a political analyst at WDET-101.9FM (Detroit Public Radio) and a member of the weekly “Obama Watch” roundtable on WLIB-1190AM New York. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit www.bankolethompson.com