Chavs, welfare, fathers and family breakdown
As if the polarisation and hardening of debate in Australia isn’t bad enough, even explanations for the riots in far away London have become predictably polarised .
There have been many outstanding pieces from conservatives — and one notable Marxist — but equal distain and withering contempt and mockery from the Left when these people blame the Welfare state and “the long-term intellectual torpor, moral cowardice, incompetence and careerist opportunism of the British political and intellectual class.”
The always reliable Theordore Dalrymple has some scathing words on the utter failure of British society to educate sections of society.
No sensible employer in a service industry would choose a young Briton if he could have a young Pole; the young Pole is not only likely to have a good work ethic and refined manners, he is likely to be able to add up and — most humiliating of all — to speak better English than the Briton, at least if by that we mean the standard variety of the language. He may not be more fluent but his English will be more correct and his accent easier to understand.
British youth leads the Western world in almost all aspects of social pathology, from teenage pregnancy to drug taking, from drunkenness to violent criminality. There is no form of bad behaviour that our version of the welfare state has not sought out and subsidised.
An article in the latest Spectator by Harriet Sergeant [no link] quantifies the failure of the education system.
Teaching a child to read and write is not difficult or expensive. Much poorer countries manage to do it. The statistics in the UK are staggering. A full 63 per cent of white working-class boys and just over half of black Caribbean boys at the age of 14 have a reading age of seven or below … Humiliated in lessons by 14, the young men … turned up to school only to sell drugs or stolen goods.
Even with our dismal educational results for our poorest children — only one in six white boys on free school meals have mastered the three Rs — just 12 teachers out of a workforce of 450,000 have been suspended for incompetence in the past nine years.
Peter Saunders also comments on other plausible reasons for the social breakdown. He poses a fundamental question: “The real question,” he said, “is not why some break the law. It is why we don’t all break the law.” His view will be be predictably unpopular.
In the schools, there has been a 40-year revolt against structure. Gone are the rows of desks, all facing the front. Gone is the concern for spelling rules, the rote learning of arithmetic tables, the laborious phonic reciting of the alphabet. Teachers in jeans emphasise creativity, self-esteem and child-centred learning, which means students’ desires are paramount. In place of the last-resort threat of physical punishment, trouble-makers are excluded, which means they are passed around schools, repeating their mischief-making while attracting no meaningful response.
… about one-third of British children grow up in single-parent families, most of which are female-headed. Despite repeated protestations to the contrary, this is not a viable or desirable way to raise children, especially boys.
The problem has little to do with money. A middle-class friend who is a single mum told me last week how she is finding it impossible to control her 14 year-old boy. He recently called her a “f . . king whore” and threatened to knife her when she attempted to punish him. She is a teacher. Boys need adult male role models, and (although it is unfashionable to say it) paternal authority.
Several years ago in an article I wrote on the importance of marriage and the family, I quoted research from the United States that demonstrated dramatically the effect of fatherless homes in that country.
In America, official departmental figures show that 90% of all homeless and runaway children, 80% of rapists, 75% of all adolescent patients in drug abuse centers and 85% of all youths sitting in prisons, grew up in fatherless homes.
Nevertheless, we have inane questions aired on the ABC’s QandA just this Monday. A viewer asked:
The criticism of Senator Wong is based on the homophobic idea that children are entitled to both a father and a mother; yet when increasing divorce rates leave more children with only one parent, how can this argument stand? How is the divorce or separation of a heterosexual couple more acceptable than having two loving homosexual parents?
So, presumably, any suggestion that a father is important is simply “homophobic”. Follow the logic?
But then there was another question from South Australia:
After the London riots, people like Miranda Divine and Alexander Downer suggested they were due to people growing up without fathers. Isn’t it sexist to assume that children need a male present in their upbringing?
Turnbull — raised by a single father — gave a much finer response, saying it had nothing to do with sexism. However, Tony. Burke, Laughlin Harris and Stella Young, all side-stepped the issue, implying that “Kids just need parents who love them”. Yeah, right. As for Miranda Devine she was pilloried. The ABC “cue” was Crikey which said her column was “rambling, inconsistent, incoherent dribble”. Back on QandA, Stella Young thought Devine “was trying to, you know, establish a career in satire”. Turnbull, to his discredit, agreed. Tony Burke thought all the comments about the London riots “had been just plain weird”.
Reading Miranda’ Devine’s column, it is hard to understand what all the vitriol was about.
However, this morning Janet Albrechtsen published a timely piece supporting my contention that there is a hardening and polarisation on this debate too.
LAST week’s coverage of the London riots by our national broadcaster provides yet more evidence of the deep and damaging divide between mainstream Australians and the so-called intellectual class. The term “so-called intellectual class” is deliberate. Many of its apparently well-educated members are more ideologically blinded than they are intellectually curious.
As the commentators quoted above note, clearly, fathers do count, along with a few other old fashioned values like order and discipline, manners, respect and the will to maintain them. What is the point of denying it.