After attacking Bill O’Reilly’s history last week, I’ll defend his sociology this week. On Monday, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell ridiculed Fox News’ O’Reilly for saying that single motherhood is responsible for the the high black crime rate.
O’Reilly said, quite correctly: “The reason there is so much violence and chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African-American family. Right now, about 73 percent of all black babies are born out of wedlock. That drives poverty. And the lack of involved fathers leads to young boys growing up resentful and unsupervised. And it has nothing to do with slavery. It has everything to do with you Hollywood people and you derelict parents.”
O’Donnell mocked O’Reilly, saying that “the struggles of black America have nothing to do with slavery in Bill O’Reilly’s very narrow and uneducated mind.” He then droned on about some paper Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote about slavery.
Take that, Bill O’Reilly!
While I’m sure that was a fascinating little monograph Moynihan wrote about slavery, O’Donnell cited nothing in it that contradicted O’Reilly. Apparently, Moynihan found that American slavery was “the most awful the world has ever known.” True, but unfortunately that has nothing to do with what O’Reilly said.
It doesn’t even sound like Moynihan was attributing black illegitimacy to slavery. O’Donnell’s point was simply that the great Moynihan had written about slavery being bad, so all discussion must end.
Fortunately, all discussion did not end for Erol Ricketts, a (black) demographer and sociologist with the Rockefeller Foundation who researched the origin of black female-headed families in the 1980s. His studies showed that the black family was thriving from the late 19th century through most of the 20th century.
You don’t get much poorer, deprived, or discriminated against than being a black person in America just a generation out of slavery.
Examining nearly a century of U.S. census reports, Ricketts found that between 1890 and 1950, blacks had higher marriage rates than whites. Until 1970, black women were more likely to get married than white women — and that was despite the high mortality rates among black men, leaving fewer available for marriage. In three of four decennial years between 1890 and 1920, black men out-married white men.