Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Cleanup Roundup

We're moving next week, and so the slow process of cleaning and organizing our apartment begins.

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Rep. Steve King (R-IA) may be one of my all-time favorite Republican crazies. Here, he frets that women who have access to free birth control will never birth again. Ain't no pregnancy like an involuntary pregnancy!

Lithuanian mayor runs over luxury car parked in a bike lane with a tank. Bring him stateside.

FYI: Black family life in the antebellum south really sucked.

The other day, Jon Chait raised a specter of hope regarding the debt compromise, arguing that the "default" cuts in defense spending will cause lobbyists to work feverishly to avert them via revenue increases. Today, Matt Yglesias puts the kiboosh on it.

Eating while Black.

Frankly, I think Jennifer Rubin's Norway post scarcely makes the top ten reasons she should be axed from the WaPo. Alas, the ombudsman disagrees.


PG said...

Rubin can't get axed so long as she does what the ombudsman notes she was hired to do: be trusted by conservatives, who as insiders will give her scoops and as readers will give her pagehits. She said exactly what conservatives think and have no problem saying aloud (except perhaps when they're at liberals' dinner parties). Until a conservative goes further than their fellow conservatives deem wise to say aloud (e.g. Ann Coulter's "invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity at the point of a sword" being a leetle too hawkish even for National Review), why should that conservative lose her job for saying something that pisses off liberals? Pissing off liberals -- and thus gaining martyr points among conservatives -- is in Rubin's job description.

Marni Jane said...

Believe me, king's less funny when you live here. There's a reason the rest fo the state regards western iowa as backwards.

Tim said...
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David Schraub said...

The empirical defensibility, or not, of the slave families claim is almost besides the point. Imagine a pamphlet which said something like "The Holocaust had a disastrous impact on the Jewish people. Yet, a Jewish child in the concentration camps was more likely to understand Hebrew than a Jew born in America within the last two decades." [I don't know if that's true, it's for sake of argument]. You don't think that'd be offensive even if it turned out to be technically accurate?

Tim said...
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David Schraub said...

Again, I'm not sure I agree. When one talks about apocalyptic horrors like slavery or the Holocaust, even talking about silver linings is incredibly callous -- and generally misses the point. It's ignorant because the horrible nature of slavery or the Holocaust not only renders the features in question trivial at best, but it also so fundamentally changes the nature of the surrounding social order that it is gibberish to try and make any sort of comparisons to the modern day.

And all that is true even if one is forthright in acknowledging how terrible it was generally.

PG said...

Regarding the Marriage Vow, the precise statement was, "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."

This is contrasted with today, when "over 70% of African-American babies are born to single parents," where "single" is defined by marital status, not by whether both parents are present and participatory in child-rearing. This is a mismatch of statistics, because even if two slaves lived within the same four walls as their biological offspring, they were not married in any way recognized by law, and thus would be "single" for today's numbers. In contrast, if a man and a woman are unmarried partners in child-rearing today, they'd get counted as a "two-parent household" for the slave era.

Moreover, the NYT column was taking issue with the concept of slaves' having their own households. If you concede that slaves lived in their masters' households, then almost certainly the household was not simply "two-parent" but instead included a variety of unrelated adults. Furthermore, it's disgusting to take the view that if a female slave was raped and impregnated, and the resulting child was raised in the same household as his mother and her rapist, that kid had a "two-parent household."

The scholarship that The Marriage Vow cites for its claim about two-parent households for slave kids (Lorraine Blackman, Obie Clayton, Norval Glenn, Linda Malone-
Colon, and Alex Roberts, “The Consequences of Marriage for African Americans: A ComprehensiveLiterature Review,” Institute for American Values, 2005(
www.americanvalues.org/pdfs/consequences_of_marriage.pdf )) doesn't, so far as I can see, make any statistical claim about slave days. Instead, it says, "in 1880
and 1910 about 56.3 percent of Black ... households were nuclear
households, about 23.5 percent of Black ... households were
extended family households, and 20.3 percent of Black and 13.4 percent of White households
were fragmented or “broken” homes."

Furthermore, it says the 1880 numbers are among the earliest reliable statistics for such matters. Not to diss Dunaway's work on slave families (although it's rather heavily concentrated in her geographic area of expertise, the Appalachian or Mountain South), but doesn't she heavily rely on the accounts of Union Army, Freedmen's Bureau and slave narratives gathered by the WPA? How does that give an accurate picture of all families during the entire course of U.S. Black slavery? I'm not saying she didn't do the best possible with the materials available -- tax lists, censuses and the masters' records wouldn't give much detail on slave family life. But I'd be cautious of saying that her work asserts The Marriage Vow's claims.

PG said...

But nice job on the Dunaway quote on what was recorded by the Union Army and Freedmen's Bureau during and after the Civil War. It totally ignores what comes right after the quoted material: "Long before the Civil War, however, at least one-third of all U.S. Southern slave marriages had been terminated by an act of force on the part of masters. In the Upper South states, one in every three slave marriages was broken by a master's intervention. One in every five slave marriages was terminated when masters sold spouses away from their families. Moreover, one-half of all slave sales involved the separation of children from their parents. ... Until events occurred to separate them, 70 percent of the Appalachian slave families had both father and mother present."

In short, while a larger percentage of babies born into slavery were born into a household where both parents resided, this hardly ensured that the child would actually reach adulthood with both parents present. Even your Simon Legree type masters could figure out that there's no reason to make a sale that separates mother and infant so long as the baby won't raise much money and the mom's still a food source for the kid.

Dunaway also throws doubt on the notion that slave children could be meaningfully "raised" by their parents, even when both were present, due to the standard notion that all slaves were children and thus even those who were mothers and fathers were unfit to determine how best to rear their offspring. See Dunaway on "Masters' Interference in Child Discipline."

This is all a long-winded way of reiterating David's point: "[slavery] also so fundamentally changes the nature of the surrounding social order that it is gibberish to try and make any sort of comparisons to the modern day."

What percentage of slave children were raised in a two-parent household as opposed to the single-parent household prevalent today? Well, what do you mean by "parent" (are we including Mom's rapist?); "household" (does that constitute the whole plantation?); "single-parent" (if no marriage by a slave has any legal significance) and "raised" (if no slave parent actually holds authority over his/her offspring, especially as they can be sold away from each other before the child is an adult)?