And now the Marriage Pledge for politicians

Republican presidential candidates keep getting asked to sign pledges–not to raise taxes, to oppose abortion, etc.–in order to get the support of key voters.  The latest is a pledge about marriage that goes on to include stances on various issues of sexual morality.  Signers must promise not only to oppose gay marriage, but also to oppose divorce, extra-marital sex, pornography, women in combat, and to believe that homosexuality is a choice.  Michelle Bachman and Rick Santorum have signed it.  Mitt Romney refuses to.  Tim Pawlenty has said he agrees with the substance of the document but refuses to sign it.  (Complicating the pledge was a statement since removed that said African-American families were better off under slavery than they are today.  Again, that statement has been removed and the signers are repudiating that part.)

Are such pledges wise?  While they might seal up some voters, won’t they alienate many more?  Given the cultural climate of today, isn’t a politician who signs a statement like this doomed to defeat?   Might Christian activists who demand this kind of ideological purity be engaging in a counter-productive effort, ensuring that candidates sympathetic to their cause will lose rather than win?

via Pawlenty punts, Romney rips Iowa marriage pledge – latimes.com.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • JH

    certainly can result in election losses in many locales, but I think some places still would prefer a candidate that signs a pledge like that. And I think it’s to their credit.

  • JH

    certainly can result in election losses in many locales, but I think some places still would prefer a candidate that signs a pledge like that. And I think it’s to their credit.

  • Dennis Peskey

    If your going to get out of the boat – don’t leave one foot on the dock. Have all potential candidates sign a promissory copy of the Ten Commandments (and while we’re at it, add an amendment to change the name of “Congress” to the Sanhedrin. Somewhere I read if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    If your going to get out of the boat – don’t leave one foot on the dock. Have all potential candidates sign a promissory copy of the Ten Commandments (and while we’re at it, add an amendment to change the name of “Congress” to the Sanhedrin. Somewhere I read if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Kirk

    I would not vote for a politician that signed any pledge from a group that believed that blacks should be enslaved, regardless of whether or not that stipulation was in the pledge. It’s just a bad group to be associated with.

    I’m with Dennis on this one, though. Why homosexuality as opposed to, say, ill gotten gains? And don’t these pledges ignore half of what a politician is supposed to do? Just because someone opposes divorce doesn’t make them a good leader or administrator. Don’t get me wrong, I want moral politicians, but if it comes down to a choice between a divorcee who can lead, and a married man who can’t, I’ll take the former. I don’t think these pledges are wrong, per se, I just don’t really see the point. It’s more demagoguery.

  • Kirk

    I would not vote for a politician that signed any pledge from a group that believed that blacks should be enslaved, regardless of whether or not that stipulation was in the pledge. It’s just a bad group to be associated with.

    I’m with Dennis on this one, though. Why homosexuality as opposed to, say, ill gotten gains? And don’t these pledges ignore half of what a politician is supposed to do? Just because someone opposes divorce doesn’t make them a good leader or administrator. Don’t get me wrong, I want moral politicians, but if it comes down to a choice between a divorcee who can lead, and a married man who can’t, I’ll take the former. I don’t think these pledges are wrong, per se, I just don’t really see the point. It’s more demagoguery.

  • Helen F

    If politicians are to be “morality police” then I think this quote by one of the great poets of the last century is appropos:

    “The world is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail, but we must be very patient in awaiting it’s collapse, meanwhile redeeming the time; so that the faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us.” – T.S. Eliot

  • Helen F

    If politicians are to be “morality police” then I think this quote by one of the great poets of the last century is appropos:

    “The world is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail, but we must be very patient in awaiting it’s collapse, meanwhile redeeming the time; so that the faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us.” – T.S. Eliot

  • Steve Billingsley

    Kirk,
    Who said blacks should be enslaved?
    The pledge didn’t say blacks where better off under slavery, it just said that even under the horrible conditions of slavery, more black people lived in intact two-parent families than is the case today.

    John McWhorter (not a right-winger by any stretch of the imagination) an African-American scholar actually stated in a New Republic article that this was an accurate statement.

    http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/91931/michele-bachmann-rick-santorum-slavery-families?utm_source=The+New+Republic&utm_campaign=649d894ab2-TNR_Daily_071411&utm_medium=email

    I think the pledge was poorly worded and as to Dr. Veith’s point, probably an unnecessary exercise to begin with, but let’s not complicate matters by sloppy mischaracterization or outright dishonesty.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Kirk,
    Who said blacks should be enslaved?
    The pledge didn’t say blacks where better off under slavery, it just said that even under the horrible conditions of slavery, more black people lived in intact two-parent families than is the case today.

    John McWhorter (not a right-winger by any stretch of the imagination) an African-American scholar actually stated in a New Republic article that this was an accurate statement.

    http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/91931/michele-bachmann-rick-santorum-slavery-families?utm_source=The+New+Republic&utm_campaign=649d894ab2-TNR_Daily_071411&utm_medium=email

    I think the pledge was poorly worded and as to Dr. Veith’s point, probably an unnecessary exercise to begin with, but let’s not complicate matters by sloppy mischaracterization or outright dishonesty.

  • Helen F

    Seems to me that the term, “Christian activists” is an oxymoron, no?

  • Helen F

    Seems to me that the term, “Christian activists” is an oxymoron, no?

  • Cincinnatus

    But Steve, why would anyone write a pledge that apparently dictates ground rules for policy-making containing such language? And more to the point, why would any politician sign it? It just seems utterly stupid in terms of public relations.

    Sure, it may be true that, statistically speaking, the black community maintained a more vibrant and stable familial culture prior to abolition (I wouldn’t know, but paternal environments can do that to a people, so I wouldn’t be surprised), but what is this group’s point? That we should return to slavery? Again, a stupid thing to include in a document of this nature, which in itself is stupid.

  • Cincinnatus

    But Steve, why would anyone write a pledge that apparently dictates ground rules for policy-making containing such language? And more to the point, why would any politician sign it? It just seems utterly stupid in terms of public relations.

    Sure, it may be true that, statistically speaking, the black community maintained a more vibrant and stable familial culture prior to abolition (I wouldn’t know, but paternal environments can do that to a people, so I wouldn’t be surprised), but what is this group’s point? That we should return to slavery? Again, a stupid thing to include in a document of this nature, which in itself is stupid.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Cincinnatus,

    I agree with you about the inanity of the whole pledge process.

    And as to the point that the group was trying to make? Who knows? The best that I can tell is that they are trying to make some sort of statement that two parent families are best for society and that leaders should support policies that strengthen two parent families.

    Beyond that, I don’t really see the point of the entire exercise. I just weighed in because crying “racism” and playing the gotcha “See, conservatives are all anti-black!” game is just tiresome, cynical and dishonest.

    It is fair to characterize this group (and the politicians who played along) as bone-headed. To characterize them as racist or malicious is just as bone-headed.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Cincinnatus,

    I agree with you about the inanity of the whole pledge process.

    And as to the point that the group was trying to make? Who knows? The best that I can tell is that they are trying to make some sort of statement that two parent families are best for society and that leaders should support policies that strengthen two parent families.

    Beyond that, I don’t really see the point of the entire exercise. I just weighed in because crying “racism” and playing the gotcha “See, conservatives are all anti-black!” game is just tiresome, cynical and dishonest.

    It is fair to characterize this group (and the politicians who played along) as bone-headed. To characterize them as racist or malicious is just as bone-headed.

  • Kirk

    @5

    Yes, but it basically suggests that black people aren’t capable of having decent, familial relations without the hand of a slave owner forcing them to do so. Since this is a “pro-family” pledge obviously aimed at the improvement of society through decent family relations, the implication is that, so far African-Americans are concerned, slavery is preferable to freedom. Otherwise, why would that language have been included? Just for kicks and giggles?

  • Kirk

    @5

    Yes, but it basically suggests that black people aren’t capable of having decent, familial relations without the hand of a slave owner forcing them to do so. Since this is a “pro-family” pledge obviously aimed at the improvement of society through decent family relations, the implication is that, so far African-Americans are concerned, slavery is preferable to freedom. Otherwise, why would that language have been included? Just for kicks and giggles?

  • Kirk

    And, I’m not suggesting that conservatives are racists. I’m stating that THESE conservatives are racists. It’s not necessarily tied to their conservatism, it just so happens that they are both conservative and racists.

  • Kirk

    And, I’m not suggesting that conservatives are racists. I’m stating that THESE conservatives are racists. It’s not necessarily tied to their conservatism, it just so happens that they are both conservative and racists.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Kirk @ 9
    No it doesn’t. Two parent families in the black community were more common post-slavery and pre-1960s. As to why they included that statement in the pledge, I don’t know.
    Kirk @ 10
    How do you know they are racist? Do you have any evidence other than a clumsily worded statement? Racism is a serious thing and before you accuse someone of it, have real evidence.

    Learn to read and reason as opposed to knee jerk and accuse and maybe you will have something productive to contribute. If you want to comment on something, address McWhorter’s article about this.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Kirk @ 9
    No it doesn’t. Two parent families in the black community were more common post-slavery and pre-1960s. As to why they included that statement in the pledge, I don’t know.
    Kirk @ 10
    How do you know they are racist? Do you have any evidence other than a clumsily worded statement? Racism is a serious thing and before you accuse someone of it, have real evidence.

    Learn to read and reason as opposed to knee jerk and accuse and maybe you will have something productive to contribute. If you want to comment on something, address McWhorter’s article about this.

  • Kirk

    I’m sorry, was that insinuation not reasoned? Because it looks like a pretty reasonable argument to me. I mean,comparing it to your rebuttal in @11, and I quote: “No it doesn’t,” it looks pretty well thought out. At least it’s got a progression as opposed to just a “yes” without evidence to back it up.

    And fine, we can give them the benefit of the doubt here. They singled out black families because they’re not racist. Happy?

  • Kirk

    I’m sorry, was that insinuation not reasoned? Because it looks like a pretty reasonable argument to me. I mean,comparing it to your rebuttal in @11, and I quote: “No it doesn’t,” it looks pretty well thought out. At least it’s got a progression as opposed to just a “yes” without evidence to back it up.

    And fine, we can give them the benefit of the doubt here. They singled out black families because they’re not racist. Happy?

  • Kirk

    And I’m not arguing that the statement is untrue, in fact I very much suspect that it is true. I’m arguing that it has negative implications in the context of a pledge that supports traditional marriage.

  • Kirk

    And I’m not arguing that the statement is untrue, in fact I very much suspect that it is true. I’m arguing that it has negative implications in the context of a pledge that supports traditional marriage.

  • Jon

    No one “repudiated” the grossly ignorant statement about black families. Everyone who read or wrote the statement thought it was just fine. That is, until the contents of the pledge leaked out beyond the bizarrely closed-off universe of these allegedly pro family groups. Then the politicians who signed it lied about not knowing the contents. Well, if they didn’t see the clause about blacks, what makes you think they read any of it? The politicians are playing these “pro family” groups for chumps, but the groups love being pandered to. The whole thing is an ego-stroking farce. But it does reveal disturbing racial views.

  • Jon

    No one “repudiated” the grossly ignorant statement about black families. Everyone who read or wrote the statement thought it was just fine. That is, until the contents of the pledge leaked out beyond the bizarrely closed-off universe of these allegedly pro family groups. Then the politicians who signed it lied about not knowing the contents. Well, if they didn’t see the clause about blacks, what makes you think they read any of it? The politicians are playing these “pro family” groups for chumps, but the groups love being pandered to. The whole thing is an ego-stroking farce. But it does reveal disturbing racial views.

  • DonS

    Here’s the actual pledge language that was removed:

    Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American president

    Now, to answer Kirk’s racism accusation, I think the probable point of the statement was that government’s answer to the wrongs of slaver, eternal dependence on government largesse, is more enslaving and does more damage than the literal pre-Civil War horror of actual physical bondage. It wasn’t at all racist. And, although obvious hyperbole, it is mostly true, given the state of the African-American community today.

    Of course, in this hyper-sensitive un-nuanced PC culture in which we live, it was stupid to include such language in the pledge, because it should have been obvious that those who opposed the pro-family conservative movement, and the politicians who would sign such a pledge would certainly jump on it and make wild accusations of racism, which they have done.

    The reason for pledges is that politicians break their word, and voters want to hold them accountable by showing them that they did so, in writing. I’ve got no problem with it, in principle. Politicians who don’t intend to honor the pledge they are asked to sign should not sign it. Period. Explain honestly why you won’t sign it and keep your integrity.

  • DonS

    Here’s the actual pledge language that was removed:

    Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American president

    Now, to answer Kirk’s racism accusation, I think the probable point of the statement was that government’s answer to the wrongs of slaver, eternal dependence on government largesse, is more enslaving and does more damage than the literal pre-Civil War horror of actual physical bondage. It wasn’t at all racist. And, although obvious hyperbole, it is mostly true, given the state of the African-American community today.

    Of course, in this hyper-sensitive un-nuanced PC culture in which we live, it was stupid to include such language in the pledge, because it should have been obvious that those who opposed the pro-family conservative movement, and the politicians who would sign such a pledge would certainly jump on it and make wild accusations of racism, which they have done.

    The reason for pledges is that politicians break their word, and voters want to hold them accountable by showing them that they did so, in writing. I’ve got no problem with it, in principle. Politicians who don’t intend to honor the pledge they are asked to sign should not sign it. Period. Explain honestly why you won’t sign it and keep your integrity.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Kirk,

    Explain to me how the statement that a higher percentage of the black population lived in two-parent families under slavery than is the case now “basically suggests that black people aren’t capable of having decent, familial relations without the hand of a slave owner forcing them to do so”. What is the logical connection between the initial statement and your conclusion?

    Is there anything else that the statement could suggest? Are there any other logical possibilities?

    I agree that the inclusion of that statement in the pledge was boneheaded. But boneheaded doesn’t equal racist.

    My ‘no it doesn’t” is simply an acknowledgement that A (the statement) doesn’t necessarily (or even probably) logically lead to B (the conclusion).

    As an example, during the 2008 campaign, President (then Senator) Obama made a statement about having visited 57 states. That is a dumb statement. (let’s call it A) – does it necessarily lead to the conclusion (let’s call it B) that he is dumb? Of course not, there is plenty of logical explanations of why he would make such a statement, the most likely being is that he was simply exhausted from campaigning non-stop for weeks on end and simply misspoke. Plus, there is plenty of other evidence that he is an intelligent man who knows how many states there are in the U.S.

    I don’t know much of anything about the organization that produced this statement. They may very well be racist, but do you have any other evidence? Are they advocating for a return to Jim Crow-style segregation? Are they making hateful statements about individual African-Americans?

    Are there any other logical reasons why they would have included this statement in the pledge? Well, it could be the African-American community has the largest percentage of out-of-wedlock births (over 70%) and single parenthood of any large racial or ethnic group in the U.S. It could be that this fact is often attributed primarily or solely to the ugly history of slavery in the U.S. (which objectively doesn’t hold water when you look at historical family patterns in the African-American community over the past 200+ years). It could be that the person who wrote the pledge (or contributed this statement) is African-American and this was top of mind for them. Or it could be none of the above. I don’t know. But there is no compelling reason that the statement was the product of racism.

    So
    1. You show no compelling logical connection that the statement’s inclusion in the pledge leads to your conclusion. AND
    2. Your accusation that this group is racist is based on little or no actual evidence.

    Your reasoning is lacking and your conclusions are spurious. Other than that, your statements should be taken seriously.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Kirk,

    Explain to me how the statement that a higher percentage of the black population lived in two-parent families under slavery than is the case now “basically suggests that black people aren’t capable of having decent, familial relations without the hand of a slave owner forcing them to do so”. What is the logical connection between the initial statement and your conclusion?

    Is there anything else that the statement could suggest? Are there any other logical possibilities?

    I agree that the inclusion of that statement in the pledge was boneheaded. But boneheaded doesn’t equal racist.

    My ‘no it doesn’t” is simply an acknowledgement that A (the statement) doesn’t necessarily (or even probably) logically lead to B (the conclusion).

    As an example, during the 2008 campaign, President (then Senator) Obama made a statement about having visited 57 states. That is a dumb statement. (let’s call it A) – does it necessarily lead to the conclusion (let’s call it B) that he is dumb? Of course not, there is plenty of logical explanations of why he would make such a statement, the most likely being is that he was simply exhausted from campaigning non-stop for weeks on end and simply misspoke. Plus, there is plenty of other evidence that he is an intelligent man who knows how many states there are in the U.S.

    I don’t know much of anything about the organization that produced this statement. They may very well be racist, but do you have any other evidence? Are they advocating for a return to Jim Crow-style segregation? Are they making hateful statements about individual African-Americans?

    Are there any other logical reasons why they would have included this statement in the pledge? Well, it could be the African-American community has the largest percentage of out-of-wedlock births (over 70%) and single parenthood of any large racial or ethnic group in the U.S. It could be that this fact is often attributed primarily or solely to the ugly history of slavery in the U.S. (which objectively doesn’t hold water when you look at historical family patterns in the African-American community over the past 200+ years). It could be that the person who wrote the pledge (or contributed this statement) is African-American and this was top of mind for them. Or it could be none of the above. I don’t know. But there is no compelling reason that the statement was the product of racism.

    So
    1. You show no compelling logical connection that the statement’s inclusion in the pledge leads to your conclusion. AND
    2. Your accusation that this group is racist is based on little or no actual evidence.

    Your reasoning is lacking and your conclusions are spurious. Other than that, your statements should be taken seriously.

  • DonS

    Steve @ 16: As I said above, @ 15, the purpose of the pledge statement was pretty clearly to indict the government social welfare culture, not African-American families.

    Kirk knows this.

  • DonS

    Steve @ 16: As I said above, @ 15, the purpose of the pledge statement was pretty clearly to indict the government social welfare culture, not African-American families.

    Kirk knows this.

  • Cincinnatus

    Yeah, having read and considered that actual statement, I can’t see the problem. I spoke too hastily earlier (though it does seem a tad careless to include racially-charged language in a public statement designed, apparently, to define the social agenda of an entire political party).

    It’s a well-known historical fact, even to progressives, that the end of slavery signaled a drastic destruction of black social capital, assuming the black community in the South had any social capital at all. Chattel slavery, it turns out, is a great way to eliminate the institutions and mores necessary for communal flourishing. This is in part why American urban cores are such appalling places even to this day. Pro-family and urban renewal groups (at least those with a modicum of honesty) have long recognized that the almost total evisceration of the African-American family, particularly with regards to absentee fathers, is in large part responsible for the continuing problems faced by (urban) African-Americans today. Indeed, if our goal is some form of social equality (I’ll leave aside the question of whether it should or should not be a our goal), then it’s our duty to make not of such facts.

    Are facts racist?

    p.s. I still don’t know why it was necessary or prudent to include such observations in a partisan pledge.

  • Cincinnatus

    Yeah, having read and considered that actual statement, I can’t see the problem. I spoke too hastily earlier (though it does seem a tad careless to include racially-charged language in a public statement designed, apparently, to define the social agenda of an entire political party).

    It’s a well-known historical fact, even to progressives, that the end of slavery signaled a drastic destruction of black social capital, assuming the black community in the South had any social capital at all. Chattel slavery, it turns out, is a great way to eliminate the institutions and mores necessary for communal flourishing. This is in part why American urban cores are such appalling places even to this day. Pro-family and urban renewal groups (at least those with a modicum of honesty) have long recognized that the almost total evisceration of the African-American family, particularly with regards to absentee fathers, is in large part responsible for the continuing problems faced by (urban) African-Americans today. Indeed, if our goal is some form of social equality (I’ll leave aside the question of whether it should or should not be a our goal), then it’s our duty to make not of such facts.

    Are facts racist?

    p.s. I still don’t know why it was necessary or prudent to include such observations in a partisan pledge.

  • Jon

    It’s stunning how far white conservatives still go in telling blacks how much better ‘family life’ was for their ancestors under slavery. The implication is that freedom [though heavily circumscribed by Jim Crow and ongoing white bigotry that consigned blacks to ghettos] only made things worse. Slavery means that the children in those wonderful two-parent households were property of a white man. As were the parents.

    I suspect that the slavery clause would not have been included if Obama were not president. It’s hard to people who patronize blacks to accept him; so they’ve got to assert, absurdly, that black families (even with a black family now in the White House) still had it better when they were owned by white men. But, like most bigots, they back down when they’re called on it.

  • Jon

    It’s stunning how far white conservatives still go in telling blacks how much better ‘family life’ was for their ancestors under slavery. The implication is that freedom [though heavily circumscribed by Jim Crow and ongoing white bigotry that consigned blacks to ghettos] only made things worse. Slavery means that the children in those wonderful two-parent households were property of a white man. As were the parents.

    I suspect that the slavery clause would not have been included if Obama were not president. It’s hard to people who patronize blacks to accept him; so they’ve got to assert, absurdly, that black families (even with a black family now in the White House) still had it better when they were owned by white men. But, like most bigots, they back down when they’re called on it.

  • Cincinnatus

    Jon@19: Point taken, but familial disintegration is a tremendous–perhaps the gravest–problem currently confronting the black community. Is it bigoted to note this fact, presumably with the intention of designing policies that would encourage stable families in our inner cities?

    Not every statement identifying something unique or even negative about a particular ethnic community is sheer bigotry. Again, it was imprudent to include such statements in this particular document, but it simply doesn’t strike me as raw bigotry. The knee-jerk cries of “racism” every time something like this is broached does far more harm than good to our pursuit for racial equality.

  • Cincinnatus

    Jon@19: Point taken, but familial disintegration is a tremendous–perhaps the gravest–problem currently confronting the black community. Is it bigoted to note this fact, presumably with the intention of designing policies that would encourage stable families in our inner cities?

    Not every statement identifying something unique or even negative about a particular ethnic community is sheer bigotry. Again, it was imprudent to include such statements in this particular document, but it simply doesn’t strike me as raw bigotry. The knee-jerk cries of “racism” every time something like this is broached does far more harm than good to our pursuit for racial equality.

  • DonS

    Jon @ 19: You’re pretty darn good at judging people’s hearts and motivations, aren’t you? And the word “bigot” is always a nice touch. Really opens up the discussion and “honest” dialogue.

    No one is asserting “… absurdly that black families (even with a black family now in the White House) still had it better when they were owned by white men.” Where do you get anything like that from the now deleted statement? The statement said that slavery had a “disastrous” effect on the African-American family, but, sadly, it’s in even worse shape now. Dr. Veith seriously misspoke when he said that “Complicating the pledge was a statement since removed that said African-American families were better off under slavery than they are today.” He fell victim to the misrepresentations of that statement reported in the media — it never said ANYTHING about people being better off under slavery. The point of the statement, admittedly inartful in our sadly P.C. culture today, was that we need to do a lot better for African-American families than we have done to date, and we are not going to get there by simply throwing more money at them.

  • DonS

    Jon @ 19: You’re pretty darn good at judging people’s hearts and motivations, aren’t you? And the word “bigot” is always a nice touch. Really opens up the discussion and “honest” dialogue.

    No one is asserting “… absurdly that black families (even with a black family now in the White House) still had it better when they were owned by white men.” Where do you get anything like that from the now deleted statement? The statement said that slavery had a “disastrous” effect on the African-American family, but, sadly, it’s in even worse shape now. Dr. Veith seriously misspoke when he said that “Complicating the pledge was a statement since removed that said African-American families were better off under slavery than they are today.” He fell victim to the misrepresentations of that statement reported in the media — it never said ANYTHING about people being better off under slavery. The point of the statement, admittedly inartful in our sadly P.C. culture today, was that we need to do a lot better for African-American families than we have done to date, and we are not going to get there by simply throwing more money at them.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    <sarcasm>
    I’m going to craft a pledge stipulating that any politician that wants my money and my vote must affirm this statement:

    Nazism had its downsides, but married white couples in Nazi Germany had a much lower divorce rate than do married white couples under the USA’s first African-American President.

    I mean, it’s not that I’m pro-Nazism per se, and I think everyone will understand that. Ultimately, that statement is actually pro-marriage. Why can’t you people see that? Why is everyone asking me about Nazis? I’m not a racist. I just want to talk about how bad things are now that we have a black President, as compared with things under die weißen Führer. Oh, now you’re quoting me out of context!
    </sarcasm>

    Oh, and Steve (@16):

    It could be that the person who wrote the pledge (or contributed this statement) is African-American and this was top of mind for them.

    Signs point to “no”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    <sarcasm>
    I’m going to craft a pledge stipulating that any politician that wants my money and my vote must affirm this statement:

    Nazism had its downsides, but married white couples in Nazi Germany had a much lower divorce rate than do married white couples under the USA’s first African-American President.

    I mean, it’s not that I’m pro-Nazism per se, and I think everyone will understand that. Ultimately, that statement is actually pro-marriage. Why can’t you people see that? Why is everyone asking me about Nazis? I’m not a racist. I just want to talk about how bad things are now that we have a black President, as compared with things under die weißen Führer. Oh, now you’re quoting me out of context!
    </sarcasm>

    Oh, and Steve (@16):

    It could be that the person who wrote the pledge (or contributed this statement) is African-American and this was top of mind for them.

    Signs point to “no”.

  • Holly

    However poorly worded and imprudent the statement about blacks families was, what I took away from it was how truly horrible the state of the family is today in much of the black community, not how great life was back in the slave era (does anyone honestly think that’s what they meant?) Seriously, when more kids grew up in two parent homes in an era where men (or women) were often sold “down the river” at a whim than they do today, that’s a huge problem. I never saw it as an implication that blacks are incapable of a two parent family structure without white people watching over them. Really, it should lead to the question, what is today that is tearing these families (and families in general) apart? Divorce? The welfare state? Sexual promiscuity? What should we as a society do about?

  • Holly

    However poorly worded and imprudent the statement about blacks families was, what I took away from it was how truly horrible the state of the family is today in much of the black community, not how great life was back in the slave era (does anyone honestly think that’s what they meant?) Seriously, when more kids grew up in two parent homes in an era where men (or women) were often sold “down the river” at a whim than they do today, that’s a huge problem. I never saw it as an implication that blacks are incapable of a two parent family structure without white people watching over them. Really, it should lead to the question, what is today that is tearing these families (and families in general) apart? Divorce? The welfare state? Sexual promiscuity? What should we as a society do about?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    You know what’s also funny? The Marriage Vow (original text here), in stating that:

    a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.

    …cites this study (“The Consequences of Marriage for African Americans: A Comprehensive Literature Review”) as evidence.

    What’s funny about that? Well, that paper contains exactly zero data from when slavery was in effect. In fact, this is the earliest data mentioned:

    In 1880 and 1910 about 56.3 percent of Black and 66.9 percent of White households were nuclear households, about 23.5 percent of Black and 19.7 percent of White households were extended family households, and 20.3 percent of Black and 13.4 percent of White households were fragmented or “broken” homes.

    Hey, guess how many children were “born into slavery” in this country in 1880 and 1910. Go on, guess. You’ll also note that that citation says nothing about the odds of a child being “raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household”.

    Also, the paper? Published in 2005. Which means that what the Marriage Vow should have said, if they’re going to cite this study, was this:

    A black child born 1880 was more likely to grow up in a nuclear household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s forty-third white President.

    Kinda makes you wonder, though. Why did they make the study say what it clearly didn’t? Why did they feel the need to point out that Obama is black? Are they just bad at reading studies? Then why are they making this the core of their pledge?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    You know what’s also funny? The Marriage Vow (original text here), in stating that:

    a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.

    …cites this study (“The Consequences of Marriage for African Americans: A Comprehensive Literature Review”) as evidence.

    What’s funny about that? Well, that paper contains exactly zero data from when slavery was in effect. In fact, this is the earliest data mentioned:

    In 1880 and 1910 about 56.3 percent of Black and 66.9 percent of White households were nuclear households, about 23.5 percent of Black and 19.7 percent of White households were extended family households, and 20.3 percent of Black and 13.4 percent of White households were fragmented or “broken” homes.

    Hey, guess how many children were “born into slavery” in this country in 1880 and 1910. Go on, guess. You’ll also note that that citation says nothing about the odds of a child being “raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household”.

    Also, the paper? Published in 2005. Which means that what the Marriage Vow should have said, if they’re going to cite this study, was this:

    A black child born 1880 was more likely to grow up in a nuclear household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s forty-third white President.

    Kinda makes you wonder, though. Why did they make the study say what it clearly didn’t? Why did they feel the need to point out that Obama is black? Are they just bad at reading studies? Then why are they making this the core of their pledge?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Naturally, Bachmann has distanced herself from this statement, saying:

    That statement was not on a document that I signed. Apparently, the group had a statement about that in another part that they’ve now since removed and gotten rid of and disavowed.

    Of course, this is also the same woman who, when asked about her (at the time) membership in a WELS church with regards to the Confessional teaching about the Anti-Christ, said:

    Well that’s a false statement that was made, and I spoke with my pastor earlier today about that as well, and he was absolutely appalled that someone would put that out. It’s abhorrent, it’s religious bigotry. I love Catholics, I’m a Christian, and my church does not believe that the Pope is the Anti-Christ, that’s absolutely false.

    Which raises the question: does Bachmann just not read the things she commits herself to? Or does she just disavow them when they become politically uncomfortable?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Naturally, Bachmann has distanced herself from this statement, saying:

    That statement was not on a document that I signed. Apparently, the group had a statement about that in another part that they’ve now since removed and gotten rid of and disavowed.

    Of course, this is also the same woman who, when asked about her (at the time) membership in a WELS church with regards to the Confessional teaching about the Anti-Christ, said:

    Well that’s a false statement that was made, and I spoke with my pastor earlier today about that as well, and he was absolutely appalled that someone would put that out. It’s abhorrent, it’s religious bigotry. I love Catholics, I’m a Christian, and my church does not believe that the Pope is the Anti-Christ, that’s absolutely false.

    Which raises the question: does Bachmann just not read the things she commits herself to? Or does she just disavow them when they become politically uncomfortable?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anyhow, I’m curious what sort of voters such pledges could actually “seal up”. Seems to me that any sort of voter for whom such issues are of paramount concern was already going to vote for the types of candidates who have signed it — whether they signed it or not. The Culture Warriors were already suspicious of Romney and enamored of Bachmann and Santorum. And none of them were going to vote for a Democrat, anyhow. So what has been achieved here?

    DonS says (@15):

    The reason for pledges is that politicians break their word, and voters want to hold them accountable by showing them that they did so, in writing.

    But this presupposes that all the Republican candidates are not trustworthy.

    Ironically, Bachmann’s distancing herself from the portion of the vow in question only compounds her credibility issues. Already, we can’t hold her to what she’s committed to in writing. What other parts of the document might she — or others — later disavow as not being what they signed? Doesn’t Bachmann’s backpedaling already disprove the value Don perceives in this vow?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anyhow, I’m curious what sort of voters such pledges could actually “seal up”. Seems to me that any sort of voter for whom such issues are of paramount concern was already going to vote for the types of candidates who have signed it — whether they signed it or not. The Culture Warriors were already suspicious of Romney and enamored of Bachmann and Santorum. And none of them were going to vote for a Democrat, anyhow. So what has been achieved here?

    DonS says (@15):

    The reason for pledges is that politicians break their word, and voters want to hold them accountable by showing them that they did so, in writing.

    But this presupposes that all the Republican candidates are not trustworthy.

    Ironically, Bachmann’s distancing herself from the portion of the vow in question only compounds her credibility issues. Already, we can’t hold her to what she’s committed to in writing. What other parts of the document might she — or others — later disavow as not being what they signed? Doesn’t Bachmann’s backpedaling already disprove the value Don perceives in this vow?

  • DonS

    tODD @ 26: Last I checked, you are only responsible for what you sign, not for what might have been in an earlier draft. So, I don’t see how disavowing something that was in an earlier draft that you did not sign is “backpedaling”.

    As for the WELS issue, I’ll leave that to you guys to sort out. I suspect very few Lutherans attending WELS churches understand that the church they are attending espouses this particular doctrine. I doubt that it is regularly (ever) taught from the pulpit.

    The reason for signing these kinds of things is to try to shore up your base voters, which is important in a primary election. Whether they actually sign something or not, Democratic politicians make similar pledges to their constituencies during primaries as well (I will sign “card check”, I will never support a law that denies federal funding for abortion, blah, blah).

    “But this presupposes that all the Republican candidates are not trustworthy.” — no, it doesn’t. It recognizes the historical truth that political candidates of all political stripes make promises to voters that they don’t later keep when push comes to shove. It recognizes that these current candidates, if true to the historical norms that have led our country to indebt each unborn child to the tune of some $45,000 at birth, and climbing, may continue the trend, and is a warning that they will be held accountable in a way that will be harder for them to deny.

    “Ironically, Bachmann’s distancing herself from the portion of the vow in question only compounds her credibility issues. Already, we can’t hold her to what she’s committed to in writing. ”

    What am I missing here, tODD? To me, it seems like more gratuitous Bachmann bashing. She hasn’t distanced herself from anything she’s committed to in writing, has she? If so, what? She has distanced herself from what some people have told her was in earlier drafts that she didn’t sign and had no awareness of .

    It almost seems as if you want her to have credibility issues. As if you’re judging her heart, somehow. But I’m sure you wouldn’t do that.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 26: Last I checked, you are only responsible for what you sign, not for what might have been in an earlier draft. So, I don’t see how disavowing something that was in an earlier draft that you did not sign is “backpedaling”.

    As for the WELS issue, I’ll leave that to you guys to sort out. I suspect very few Lutherans attending WELS churches understand that the church they are attending espouses this particular doctrine. I doubt that it is regularly (ever) taught from the pulpit.

    The reason for signing these kinds of things is to try to shore up your base voters, which is important in a primary election. Whether they actually sign something or not, Democratic politicians make similar pledges to their constituencies during primaries as well (I will sign “card check”, I will never support a law that denies federal funding for abortion, blah, blah).

    “But this presupposes that all the Republican candidates are not trustworthy.” — no, it doesn’t. It recognizes the historical truth that political candidates of all political stripes make promises to voters that they don’t later keep when push comes to shove. It recognizes that these current candidates, if true to the historical norms that have led our country to indebt each unborn child to the tune of some $45,000 at birth, and climbing, may continue the trend, and is a warning that they will be held accountable in a way that will be harder for them to deny.

    “Ironically, Bachmann’s distancing herself from the portion of the vow in question only compounds her credibility issues. Already, we can’t hold her to what she’s committed to in writing. ”

    What am I missing here, tODD? To me, it seems like more gratuitous Bachmann bashing. She hasn’t distanced herself from anything she’s committed to in writing, has she? If so, what? She has distanced herself from what some people have told her was in earlier drafts that she didn’t sign and had no awareness of .

    It almost seems as if you want her to have credibility issues. As if you’re judging her heart, somehow. But I’m sure you wouldn’t do that.

  • Jon

    @27 DonS, “What I am missing here…?”
    For openers, you’re wrong about when Bachmann signed the pledge. She signed the orignal form. If she read it, she could not have missed the slavery clause, since it was point #1. The group withdrew the clause a few days after Bachmann signed it.

  • Jon

    @27 DonS, “What I am missing here…?”
    For openers, you’re wrong about when Bachmann signed the pledge. She signed the orignal form. If she read it, she could not have missed the slavery clause, since it was point #1. The group withdrew the clause a few days after Bachmann signed it.

  • DonS

    Jon @ 28: Bachmann said she didn’t. That’s what tODD quoted @ 25, from the article he linked. So, you’re saying she lied and the language in question was actually in the document she signed after all. Obviously, if true, that would change the scenario, because she denied that it was. So, where’s your proof?

  • DonS

    Jon @ 28: Bachmann said she didn’t. That’s what tODD quoted @ 25, from the article he linked. So, you’re saying she lied and the language in question was actually in the document she signed after all. Obviously, if true, that would change the scenario, because she denied that it was. So, where’s your proof?

  • Jon

    @29 DonS.
    Bachmann signed the pledge 7/7; the clause was removed 7/9. The pledge is 2 pages. Bachmann’s initial defense was she didn’t read page 1 where the clause was, but only page 2, where the ‘candidate vow’ heading and signature line appear. But the ‘candidate vow’ portion begins w/”therefore,” linking it to the previous clauses. There is no question that Bachmann signed the original pledge; she did.

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/07/09/bachmann-stands-by-marriage-pledge-that-links-slavery-to-black-family-values/

  • Jon

    @29 DonS.
    Bachmann signed the pledge 7/7; the clause was removed 7/9. The pledge is 2 pages. Bachmann’s initial defense was she didn’t read page 1 where the clause was, but only page 2, where the ‘candidate vow’ heading and signature line appear. But the ‘candidate vow’ portion begins w/”therefore,” linking it to the previous clauses. There is no question that Bachmann signed the original pledge; she did.

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/07/09/bachmann-stands-by-marriage-pledge-that-links-slavery-to-black-family-values/

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@29), my proof (likely Jon’s as well) is the actual document released by the Family Leader group. If Bachmann claims that she signed a different version (prior to the Family Leader people striking out the controversial bit), then let her produce a copy of that document.

    However, I will note that Bachmann’s words appear to be very carefully crafted. Look at the Marriage Vow PDF (linked above) again. Note how it has two main pages (followed by two pages of footnotes, for all the good they’ve shown to be). The first page has several bullet points that bolster the claim that “the Institution of Marriage in America is in great crisis”. The actual vow, however, only appears on page 2, which is where the signature goes. So when Bachmann says:

    That statement was not on a document that I signed. Apparently, the group had a statement about that in another part that they’ve now since removed and gotten rid of and disavowed.

    …it kind of reads like she’s saying that the controversial slavery statement wasn’t literally on the page she signed, but instead was “in another part” — that is, on the previous page.

    Again, the whole “Anti-Christ” backpedal has already dinged her credibility. Regardless of whether you agree with the WELS on that (as does the LCMS and, well, start reading here), it is simply absolutely false that Bachmann’s former church “does not believe that the Pope is the Anti-Christ”. There is no way she could have “spoke with my pastor earlier today about that” and come away with that understanding. She placed her (false) statement about WELS doctrine at her pastor’s feet, not merely as the poor understanding of a layman.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@29), my proof (likely Jon’s as well) is the actual document released by the Family Leader group. If Bachmann claims that she signed a different version (prior to the Family Leader people striking out the controversial bit), then let her produce a copy of that document.

    However, I will note that Bachmann’s words appear to be very carefully crafted. Look at the Marriage Vow PDF (linked above) again. Note how it has two main pages (followed by two pages of footnotes, for all the good they’ve shown to be). The first page has several bullet points that bolster the claim that “the Institution of Marriage in America is in great crisis”. The actual vow, however, only appears on page 2, which is where the signature goes. So when Bachmann says:

    That statement was not on a document that I signed. Apparently, the group had a statement about that in another part that they’ve now since removed and gotten rid of and disavowed.

    …it kind of reads like she’s saying that the controversial slavery statement wasn’t literally on the page she signed, but instead was “in another part” — that is, on the previous page.

    Again, the whole “Anti-Christ” backpedal has already dinged her credibility. Regardless of whether you agree with the WELS on that (as does the LCMS and, well, start reading here), it is simply absolutely false that Bachmann’s former church “does not believe that the Pope is the Anti-Christ”. There is no way she could have “spoke with my pastor earlier today about that” and come away with that understanding. She placed her (false) statement about WELS doctrine at her pastor’s feet, not merely as the poor understanding of a layman.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Well, I finally decided to take a look at the Family Leader a bit more closely. They seem to be a fairly innocuous organization that has bit off more than it could chew with “Marriage Pledge”. The statement about black families during slavery was clumsily worded and seems poorly researched (ironically, it still seems to be accurate, no commenter has engaged the McWhorter article or the sources he cites or the fact that it was published on a left-of-center website)

    Best I can tell, it was a ill-advised stretch to take a slap at President Obama’s family policy bona fides (which seems dumb to me given that one of his strengths is that given the state of two-parent families in the African-American community, the Obama family seems to be a shining example of a healthy, functioning AA family). But is it racism? I don’t think so, I think it is more likely tone-deaf partisanship.

    Todd @ 22 – seems to be a pretty lily-white organization at least from a leadership standpoint

    But a Nazi counter-factual? Really? Can’t we all just agree to a moratorium on Nazi references (unless of course the discussion is about, you know, actual Nazis)

    Beyond the pledge aspect of discussion (and the completely uselessness of them in general in my opinion), another thing this highlights is the ridiculous amount of importance that Iowa (and New Hampshire) play in our nominating process. Candidates fall all over themselves to pander to the Iowa Republican (or Democratic depending on the situation) voters and spend ridiculous amounts of money buying support (and swallowing whole hog ridiculous policies like ethanol subsidies) just to keep themselves in the nomination game. I know pandering is just par for the course for politicians but this just takes it to new heights (or depths).

    What’s next? The “if you love your mother” sign this pledge? How about the “Corn is good” pledge?

  • Steve Billingsley

    Well, I finally decided to take a look at the Family Leader a bit more closely. They seem to be a fairly innocuous organization that has bit off more than it could chew with “Marriage Pledge”. The statement about black families during slavery was clumsily worded and seems poorly researched (ironically, it still seems to be accurate, no commenter has engaged the McWhorter article or the sources he cites or the fact that it was published on a left-of-center website)

    Best I can tell, it was a ill-advised stretch to take a slap at President Obama’s family policy bona fides (which seems dumb to me given that one of his strengths is that given the state of two-parent families in the African-American community, the Obama family seems to be a shining example of a healthy, functioning AA family). But is it racism? I don’t think so, I think it is more likely tone-deaf partisanship.

    Todd @ 22 – seems to be a pretty lily-white organization at least from a leadership standpoint

    But a Nazi counter-factual? Really? Can’t we all just agree to a moratorium on Nazi references (unless of course the discussion is about, you know, actual Nazis)

    Beyond the pledge aspect of discussion (and the completely uselessness of them in general in my opinion), another thing this highlights is the ridiculous amount of importance that Iowa (and New Hampshire) play in our nominating process. Candidates fall all over themselves to pander to the Iowa Republican (or Democratic depending on the situation) voters and spend ridiculous amounts of money buying support (and swallowing whole hog ridiculous policies like ethanol subsidies) just to keep themselves in the nomination game. I know pandering is just par for the course for politicians but this just takes it to new heights (or depths).

    What’s next? The “if you love your mother” sign this pledge? How about the “Corn is good” pledge?

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD: Helpful research. Also, for the record, marriage was illegal for black slaves in the antebellum period. Slaves could and often did marry within their own communities, but such marriages were not legally recognized. Moreover, black communities were extremely fragile at the time, often forcibly ruptured by the buying and selling of their members (a fact that often dissolved these quasi-marriages as well). So the group that wrote this pledge is certainly guilty of careless research.

    But honestly, I’m still generally with Steve. If we correct the history a bit, black marriage rates and family stability have plummeted since the immediate post-Civil War years. Is it bigoted or racist to note this fact?

    Assuming it’s not racist–it’s not–the observation has great political relevance. It’s denied by no one at this point that attempts to “repair” our mostly black inner cities have involved endless programs, welfare entitlements, subsidies, social engineering, etc.–generally, throwing money and bureaucracy at the problem. Not only does this fail to address the real problems within the black urban community–disintegrating families and cultural capital–but many of these programs have actually been counterproductive, both intentionally and unintentionally depending upon the program, by actively discouraging marital commitments, economic foresight, and general communal cohesion.

    Again, is it bigoted to point this out? If we want to make a real difference in our cities, family policy and not social engineering via welfare programs, etc., is what is needed.

    Granted, I doubt any of this is foregrounded in the average Republican consciousness at the moment, but it would seem to be important to the group the wrote this (otherwise unfortunately worded) pledge–and rightly so.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD: Helpful research. Also, for the record, marriage was illegal for black slaves in the antebellum period. Slaves could and often did marry within their own communities, but such marriages were not legally recognized. Moreover, black communities were extremely fragile at the time, often forcibly ruptured by the buying and selling of their members (a fact that often dissolved these quasi-marriages as well). So the group that wrote this pledge is certainly guilty of careless research.

    But honestly, I’m still generally with Steve. If we correct the history a bit, black marriage rates and family stability have plummeted since the immediate post-Civil War years. Is it bigoted or racist to note this fact?

    Assuming it’s not racist–it’s not–the observation has great political relevance. It’s denied by no one at this point that attempts to “repair” our mostly black inner cities have involved endless programs, welfare entitlements, subsidies, social engineering, etc.–generally, throwing money and bureaucracy at the problem. Not only does this fail to address the real problems within the black urban community–disintegrating families and cultural capital–but many of these programs have actually been counterproductive, both intentionally and unintentionally depending upon the program, by actively discouraging marital commitments, economic foresight, and general communal cohesion.

    Again, is it bigoted to point this out? If we want to make a real difference in our cities, family policy and not social engineering via welfare programs, etc., is what is needed.

    Granted, I doubt any of this is foregrounded in the average Republican consciousness at the moment, but it would seem to be important to the group the wrote this (otherwise unfortunately worded) pledge–and rightly so.

  • DonS

    Fair enough. Thank you, Jon and tODD.

    My take — Bachmann considered that she was signing a vow that she could support, and I have no reason to doubt the truth of her statement. However, I think doing something like that is a little careless. I wouldn’t sign these kinds of things without reviewing the background of the organization and the basis for the pledge, and ensuring that I had not issues not just with the pledge itself, but with the stated reasons for the pledge, and with the histories of the organization and individuals driving it. She shouldn’t have either.

    That being said, I’m with Cincinnatus and Steve, generally, on the larger issue, and the propensity of many in our hyper-sensitive society to leap to accusations of racism. It’s not very constructive, particularly when the organization in question immediately backpedals, a strong indication of good faith.

  • DonS

    Fair enough. Thank you, Jon and tODD.

    My take — Bachmann considered that she was signing a vow that she could support, and I have no reason to doubt the truth of her statement. However, I think doing something like that is a little careless. I wouldn’t sign these kinds of things without reviewing the background of the organization and the basis for the pledge, and ensuring that I had not issues not just with the pledge itself, but with the stated reasons for the pledge, and with the histories of the organization and individuals driving it. She shouldn’t have either.

    That being said, I’m with Cincinnatus and Steve, generally, on the larger issue, and the propensity of many in our hyper-sensitive society to leap to accusations of racism. It’s not very constructive, particularly when the organization in question immediately backpedals, a strong indication of good faith.

  • helen

    I suppose it would be off topic to note that white marital stability, pre-marital living arrangements, and single-with-children numbers are not what they used to be either?

  • helen

    I suppose it would be off topic to note that white marital stability, pre-marital living arrangements, and single-with-children numbers are not what they used to be either?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve said (@32):

    A Nazi counter-factual? Really? Can’t we all just agree to a moratorium on Nazi references?

    Why, Steve? Does it strike you as a bit too much? Or is it tone-deaf, or even offensive? … If so, then maybe you’ll understand why I used it.

    Cincinnatus (@33):

    If we correct the history a bit, black marriage rates and family stability have plummeted since the immediate post-Civil War years. Is it bigoted or racist to note this fact?

    No, not as you say it. But is it beyond the pale to note that The Family Leader did not say it as you said it, and to wonder why that is? To wonder why they made references to academic studies, but misrepresented them? To wonder why they felt compelled to note President Obama’s race on a vow that had to do with marriage? To wonder why race really enters into the vow document at all?

    After all, if we assume that one of the signers gets elected, then surely we can expect him or her to take action with respect to all racial and ethnic groups in our country, and not just target blacks. After all, the vow itself makes no race-specific promises. So why did the preamble dedicate 40% of its bullet points to discussion of race?

    And DonS (@34), it is a fascinating claim to make that backpedaling is, in itself, “a strong indication of good faith.” I’ll have to remember that for future discussions.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve said (@32):

    A Nazi counter-factual? Really? Can’t we all just agree to a moratorium on Nazi references?

    Why, Steve? Does it strike you as a bit too much? Or is it tone-deaf, or even offensive? … If so, then maybe you’ll understand why I used it.

    Cincinnatus (@33):

    If we correct the history a bit, black marriage rates and family stability have plummeted since the immediate post-Civil War years. Is it bigoted or racist to note this fact?

    No, not as you say it. But is it beyond the pale to note that The Family Leader did not say it as you said it, and to wonder why that is? To wonder why they made references to academic studies, but misrepresented them? To wonder why they felt compelled to note President Obama’s race on a vow that had to do with marriage? To wonder why race really enters into the vow document at all?

    After all, if we assume that one of the signers gets elected, then surely we can expect him or her to take action with respect to all racial and ethnic groups in our country, and not just target blacks. After all, the vow itself makes no race-specific promises. So why did the preamble dedicate 40% of its bullet points to discussion of race?

    And DonS (@34), it is a fascinating claim to make that backpedaling is, in itself, “a strong indication of good faith.” I’ll have to remember that for future discussions.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 36: Why is that fascinating? To admit that you were wrong, and to retract something that you did seems to be the height of humility, and the recognition that we are fallible beings. If they were truly racists, they would have persisted and even doubled down on their original statement. However, they recognized that the way they formulated their point could be misinterpreted, might offend some people, and might be exploited by other people, and ultimately was causing them to lose support for their real political interest, so they retracted.

    Backpedaling is not a sin. Nor is it necessarily a sign of weakness, depending on context. Now, if the backpedaling involves retreating from a genuinely held political conviction because of opposition, then I can’t respect that. But, if it is due to a recognition that your original statement was inadvertently wrong, or conveyed a message you did not intend, and you want to clarify or correct the record, fine.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 36: Why is that fascinating? To admit that you were wrong, and to retract something that you did seems to be the height of humility, and the recognition that we are fallible beings. If they were truly racists, they would have persisted and even doubled down on their original statement. However, they recognized that the way they formulated their point could be misinterpreted, might offend some people, and might be exploited by other people, and ultimately was causing them to lose support for their real political interest, so they retracted.

    Backpedaling is not a sin. Nor is it necessarily a sign of weakness, depending on context. Now, if the backpedaling involves retreating from a genuinely held political conviction because of opposition, then I can’t respect that. But, if it is due to a recognition that your original statement was inadvertently wrong, or conveyed a message you did not intend, and you want to clarify or correct the record, fine.

  • fws

    cincinnatus,

    I sort of assume that the fact that blacks could not marry and that fathers were sold off and mothers were left raising their kids as single moms and their kids, also, often were the result of rape by the owner has probably alot to do with the current pattern we see in black families. How would one erase, even in a hundred years, the legacy of that sort of dehumanizing treatment.

    I assume that this legacy produced certain embedded coping mechanisms and survival stragegies that maybe actually worked as well as possible under those inhuman conditions, but now need to be unlearned.

    The way to unlearn them is probably through education, increased earning levels and other material betterment. This would also be enhanced by the church.

    But the facts I just outlined are also probably why it is a fact that most black churches a) often become deistic moralists to try to fix those old patterns of behavior , and more recently b) the prosperity “name it and claim it!” pentecostal groups that try to fix things through an empty material betterment that expects miracles to happen rather than the need to do the hard aristotelian work of acquiring virtue as a habit by hard work and lots of effort.

    The statement on the pledge seems written by white folks who do just as Todd says with his Nazi allusion. It would be best to avoid reference to BOTH the Nazis AND slavery in current debates , be it abortion, or homosexuality or whatever. Both those episodes were rather unique in the level and nature of their evil.

  • fws

    cincinnatus,

    I sort of assume that the fact that blacks could not marry and that fathers were sold off and mothers were left raising their kids as single moms and their kids, also, often were the result of rape by the owner has probably alot to do with the current pattern we see in black families. How would one erase, even in a hundred years, the legacy of that sort of dehumanizing treatment.

    I assume that this legacy produced certain embedded coping mechanisms and survival stragegies that maybe actually worked as well as possible under those inhuman conditions, but now need to be unlearned.

    The way to unlearn them is probably through education, increased earning levels and other material betterment. This would also be enhanced by the church.

    But the facts I just outlined are also probably why it is a fact that most black churches a) often become deistic moralists to try to fix those old patterns of behavior , and more recently b) the prosperity “name it and claim it!” pentecostal groups that try to fix things through an empty material betterment that expects miracles to happen rather than the need to do the hard aristotelian work of acquiring virtue as a habit by hard work and lots of effort.

    The statement on the pledge seems written by white folks who do just as Todd says with his Nazi allusion. It would be best to avoid reference to BOTH the Nazis AND slavery in current debates , be it abortion, or homosexuality or whatever. Both those episodes were rather unique in the level and nature of their evil.

  • fws

    To me this is one more example of where , to oppose homosexuality, persons are willing to put their brains on park and accept even the unacceptable and unreasonable, as long as it is about being against homosexuality!

    it is like fixing a leaky house faucet by burning down the entire house.

  • fws

    To me this is one more example of where , to oppose homosexuality, persons are willing to put their brains on park and accept even the unacceptable and unreasonable, as long as it is about being against homosexuality!

    it is like fixing a leaky house faucet by burning down the entire house.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Sorry, but I probably wouldn’t vote for a candidate that signed such a pledge. America is governed by duly elected representatives. A majority – even a major one – should not have the right to deny representation to the minority. A politician who signed a document like this is, to my mind, already dismissing the concerns of his constituents out of hand. This strikes me as entirely unhealthy for the American system.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Sorry, but I probably wouldn’t vote for a candidate that signed such a pledge. America is governed by duly elected representatives. A majority – even a major one – should not have the right to deny representation to the minority. A politician who signed a document like this is, to my mind, already dismissing the concerns of his constituents out of hand. This strikes me as entirely unhealthy for the American system.

  • Cincinnatus

    John: I think I understand what you’re saying, but its implications seem to wander into the realm of absurdity. First, there is considerable confusion (even and especially in the field of political theory) as to the meaning of the word and concept “representation.” Do elected representatives re-present their district/constituents, the entire nation, the common good (and what does that mean?), the good of the majority, the good of a minority? All of these things are in potential conflict, and I think we lack a clear notion of what are representatives are or should be doing.

    Second, most legislative actions are, by definition, going to “deny” rights or “representation” to a minority or even a majority. Subsidizing interstate highways helps lots of people, but seriously harmed railroads. Legalizing abortion helped some women (arguably) but came at the cost of a holocaust of prenatal children. Ending slavery helped blacks but hurt white workers. Free trade helps corporations but hurts unions and domestic industrial workers. ad infinitum.

    In other words, by your standards, is it possible to pass any legislation at all without harming the “health of the American system”?

  • Cincinnatus

    John: I think I understand what you’re saying, but its implications seem to wander into the realm of absurdity. First, there is considerable confusion (even and especially in the field of political theory) as to the meaning of the word and concept “representation.” Do elected representatives re-present their district/constituents, the entire nation, the common good (and what does that mean?), the good of the majority, the good of a minority? All of these things are in potential conflict, and I think we lack a clear notion of what are representatives are or should be doing.

    Second, most legislative actions are, by definition, going to “deny” rights or “representation” to a minority or even a majority. Subsidizing interstate highways helps lots of people, but seriously harmed railroads. Legalizing abortion helped some women (arguably) but came at the cost of a holocaust of prenatal children. Ending slavery helped blacks but hurt white workers. Free trade helps corporations but hurts unions and domestic industrial workers. ad infinitum.

    In other words, by your standards, is it possible to pass any legislation at all without harming the “health of the American system”?

  • fws

    Here is comedy central’s spin on Michelle Bachman and her marriage pledge….

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-july-13-2011/field-of-dongs

  • fws

    Here is comedy central’s spin on Michelle Bachman and her marriage pledge….

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-july-13-2011/field-of-dongs

  • HW

    It’s not enough to repudiate the since removed statement about African American families being better off during slavery. The statement never should have made it into the document in the first place. It’s an indication of the group’s pathologization of the black family, which is rooted in prejudice (if not outright racism) and a failure to fully comprehend the historical, social, cultural factors that contribute(d) to the splitting up of Black families. It was an oversimplified statement that reveals this organization’s attitude toward African Americans.

  • HW

    It’s not enough to repudiate the since removed statement about African American families being better off during slavery. The statement never should have made it into the document in the first place. It’s an indication of the group’s pathologization of the black family, which is rooted in prejudice (if not outright racism) and a failure to fully comprehend the historical, social, cultural factors that contribute(d) to the splitting up of Black families. It was an oversimplified statement that reveals this organization’s attitude toward African Americans.

  • Cincinnatus

    HW:

    …but the black family is in a pathological condition right now. Every single statistic proves it. Ignoring the facts is more racist than noting them: “Oh, we can’t mention facts about the black community lest we offend them!” Is it equally racist to notice burgeoning problems in white families? Because I can list those as well. Nor is wringing our hands about the “historical, social, and cultural factors that contributed to the splitting up of black families” a worthy endeavor because that won’t solve the current problems. Yes, many policies perpetrated by the white race contributed to the implosion of the black family. And? What next?

  • Cincinnatus

    HW:

    …but the black family is in a pathological condition right now. Every single statistic proves it. Ignoring the facts is more racist than noting them: “Oh, we can’t mention facts about the black community lest we offend them!” Is it equally racist to notice burgeoning problems in white families? Because I can list those as well. Nor is wringing our hands about the “historical, social, and cultural factors that contributed to the splitting up of black families” a worthy endeavor because that won’t solve the current problems. Yes, many policies perpetrated by the white race contributed to the implosion of the black family. And? What next?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@44), with all respect, I think you’re missing HW’s point (@43), and the issue at hand. The question isn’t simply a matter of what is true. There are all sorts of truths — even if we just limit things to the realm of marriage — that didn’t make it into the document.

    The question is: what is relevant to the desired effect of this document, and what true things are so vitally important that they make the cut to be in your bulleted list on your document?

    To think of it differently, imagine that you visit a church’s Web site. Front and center on their site is their mission statement: “Our mission is to go and preach the gospel of Christ to all the world. But especially to blacks, because, while everyone is a sinner, blacks have had real issues with their families ever since slavery ended.” As you browse their site, you notice that the church is led by (and almost entirely populated by) white people. Would that emphasis strike you as odd, no matter how true it might be?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@44), with all respect, I think you’re missing HW’s point (@43), and the issue at hand. The question isn’t simply a matter of what is true. There are all sorts of truths — even if we just limit things to the realm of marriage — that didn’t make it into the document.

    The question is: what is relevant to the desired effect of this document, and what true things are so vitally important that they make the cut to be in your bulleted list on your document?

    To think of it differently, imagine that you visit a church’s Web site. Front and center on their site is their mission statement: “Our mission is to go and preach the gospel of Christ to all the world. But especially to blacks, because, while everyone is a sinner, blacks have had real issues with their families ever since slavery ended.” As you browse their site, you notice that the church is led by (and almost entirely populated by) white people. Would that emphasis strike you as odd, no matter how true it might be?

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@45: No more odd than I would find an organization especially dedicated to preach the Gospel to, say, Kenyans or Amish (a real group I ran across the other day, oddly enough) or Latino immigrants or Chinese. I see your point, but I wonder if our racial over-sensitivity is clouding our judgment here.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@45: No more odd than I would find an organization especially dedicated to preach the Gospel to, say, Kenyans or Amish (a real group I ran across the other day, oddly enough) or Latino immigrants or Chinese. I see your point, but I wonder if our racial over-sensitivity is clouding our judgment here.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@46), okay, so you wouldn’t find it odd if that were the mission statement of an organization dedicated to reaching out to the particular group they’d named (in my example, black people). But. Is the Family Leader group dedicated to reaching out to black people? Is fixing the black family their focus? If it were, then we’d likely only be having a discussion about potential paternalistic attitudes or the White Man’s Burden or whatever.

    But since that doesn’t appear to be their focus, doesn’t that mean that their dedicating 40% of the bullet points in their preamble to blacks in particular remains … kind of odd?

    I could equally wonder if racial insensitivity is clouding our judgment here. I don’t think we’re likely to come to any agreement on that aspect, precisely because it’s so vague an assertion.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@46), okay, so you wouldn’t find it odd if that were the mission statement of an organization dedicated to reaching out to the particular group they’d named (in my example, black people). But. Is the Family Leader group dedicated to reaching out to black people? Is fixing the black family their focus? If it were, then we’d likely only be having a discussion about potential paternalistic attitudes or the White Man’s Burden or whatever.

    But since that doesn’t appear to be their focus, doesn’t that mean that their dedicating 40% of the bullet points in their preamble to blacks in particular remains … kind of odd?

    I could equally wonder if racial insensitivity is clouding our judgment here. I don’t think we’re likely to come to any agreement on that aspect, precisely because it’s so vague an assertion.

  • Cincinnatus

    Fair enough. As I originally stated in my earlier comments, I continue to find the pledge generally odd as a statement intended to be signed by elected officials–from a public relations standpoint, in any case. When the more whaargarbly sorts of leftists continue to claim that Republicans are all closeted racists who hate Obama because he’s black, it doesn’t help to lend credibility to such claims, which is what signing a document casting aspersions, true or not, upon the black community is likely to do.

  • Cincinnatus

    Fair enough. As I originally stated in my earlier comments, I continue to find the pledge generally odd as a statement intended to be signed by elected officials–from a public relations standpoint, in any case. When the more whaargarbly sorts of leftists continue to claim that Republicans are all closeted racists who hate Obama because he’s black, it doesn’t help to lend credibility to such claims, which is what signing a document casting aspersions, true or not, upon the black community is likely to do.


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