George Will, the mega-conservative ideologue and ABC analyst who hosted President Obama at his house in 2009 for dinner attended by other conservative columnists, 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 Christian leaders — right wing evangelicals in particular — because whenever these so-called leaders run out of any ideas or simply rational way of thinking, they play the “moral card”, 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 had earlier denounced in their ministries.
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 raise 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.
For a so-called analyst of Will’s 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 very lazy job on his part, an elitist approach or a downright racist diatribe because in plain conservative language, whenever “unwed mothers” are used in the poiltical debates it is meant to render White liberals as morally bankrupt in their alliance with Black voters. And with Detroit being a major Black city, it is no accident that Will played the moral card in this instance.
Will showed his true colors by offering a prognosis about Detroit that won’t pass the smell test. We’ve seen men and others like him before mask behind a so-called intellectual debate while the argument they are making is incoherent or basically dumb.
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 overlooked in this financial reckoning. But to blame the lifestyle or choices that hard-pressed and taxpaying residents and families make as a major factor for this collapse is insanity, intellectual dishonesty and a fraudulent argument 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 lifestyles 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 practices and incomprehensible loans and interest rates, designed to benefit Wall Street, while making homeowners homeless?
Was it unwed mothers who were responsible for the massive economic crisis that greeted the dawn of the Obama administration?
But we know why Wall Street collapsed. The greed and fierce competition of elitist White men.
George Will, and others, can no 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 regarding Detroit’s economic crisis on national television, maybe the longtime conservative ideologue is at a lockjam and 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 or visit http://www.bankolethompson.com.