J. Soltys's Weblog

June 19, 2008

Obama “Irresponsible” in Fathers Day Speech

Well I noticed a shift this year. After years of men complaining about the negative portrayal of fathers around Fathers Day, it seemed this year many media outlets were steering away from negative stories and images of fathers, but there were still those that did, and I was glad to find their comments sections filled with men (and women) who challenged these negative perceptions.
It appears people are starting to realize the tremendous difference in the way we honor mothers on Mothers Day, and the way we “honor” fathers on Fathers Day.

So let’s look at the biggest offenders of fathers on Fathers Day.

Barack Obama showed his overt discrimination against fathers – again – on Fathers day.
While calling on black fathers to take responsibility for the numerous fatherless homes in the African-American communities, he also extended his venom towards all fathers.
He told a Fathers Day crowd this about black men,

“They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men.

He also told the crowd with an austere lip,

“we need fathers to recognize that responsibility doesn’t just end at conception.”

He even scolded those fathers who are present in their children’s lives, implying they are lazy and uninvolved:

“It’s a wonderful thing if you are married and living in a home with your children, but don’t just sit in the house and watch ‘SportsCenter’ all weekend long.”

He concluded that,

“What makes you a man is not the ability to have a child — any fool can have a child,” he said, to applause. “That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.”

His cure for this problem is the co-sponsoring of a bill with Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana, which would increase enforcement of child support payments, and increase services for domestic violence programs.

Sorry, but Barack is showing how immature he is to handle the responsibility of the most influential and most powerful job in the world. His solution to put more fathers into homes across the nation is to enact legislation that will put more fathers in jail. Current domestic violence laws, along with child support enforcement policies have been known to not just put troubled fathers in jail, but to also have put many innocent and law abiding fathers in prison too. Both of these social ills, and the laws enacted to combat them, have been fraught with innocent men winding up in jail on fraudulent charges. If Barack Obama really knew the issue as he claims, he would know by strengthening these programs without correcting them first will do the exact opposite of what he desires – it will REMOVE more fathers from their children, and lead to more men frustrated and angry with a system that is quick to persecute first and ask questions later.

But before I get ahead of myself, let’s pause to look at the tone of language and imagery used by Barack Obama on Fathers Day towards fathers:

“lazy; uninvolved; not man enough; a fool; lacking courage; and irresponsible”

Now let’s take a look at Barack Obama’s speech to mothers’s on Mothers Day taken from his own website:

Senator Obama’s Mother’s Day Statement
Chicago, IL | May 11, 2008
This Mother’s Day, I’ll be doing what so many other Americans are doing – spending time with my family and thinking about the mothers in my life. My mother, Ann Dunham, was the kindest, most generous spirit I have ever known, and what is best in me, I owe to her. My grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, helped raise me, sacrificed again and again for me, and loves me as much as she loves anything in this world. And the mother of my daughters Sasha and Malia – my wife Michelle – is the rock of the Obama family and a woman who continues to make me a better person. We couldn’t have done this year without my mother-in-law Marian Robinson, who stays with our girls while Michelle and I are on the campaign trail. And my two sisters, Auma and Maya, each the mother to young daughters, are not only my family, but my dear friends. So to the mothers in my life and to the mothers in all our lives, Happy Mother’s Day.

Is it just me or is his imagery and tone towards mothers completely different?
In his Mothers Day speech, these are the words and imagery created:

“thinking about mom; kind, generous; the best for me; owe a lot; sacrifices for me; loves me immensely; rock of the family; make a better person”

I’ve always admitted that maybe I’m not always right, but this is definitely one of those times when I know I’m not wrong – Barack Obama is obviously anti-father.
On Mothers Day, Obama refused to say anything negative about mothers, which in turn, displays an egregious discriminatory attitude towards fathers.

While the problem with absent fathers is real, particularly in the black community, let’s not forget ALL reasons why fathers may not be present in the home. If Obama is truly serious about tackling this problem, he must be ready to address the uncomfortable realities of why fathers may be absent, which means extending his criticisms towards women and others:

  • Is Obama ready to make substantial changes to the family court systems across the country that favor mothers over fathers, awarding custody to mothers in approximately 70% of all custody cases?
  • On Mothers Day, is Obama ready to address the serious problem of women using false allegations of abuse and violence which lead to orders of protection being issued as a cautionary measure in the absence of any substantial evidence, which in turn, forces the father from his home and separates him from his children?
  • On Mothers Day, is Obama willing to scold women – along with the men – who choose to have numerous children by numerous partners?
  • Is Obama willing to address the fact that men have no reproductive rights, meaning that the number of absent fathers will always be greater than absent mothers due to abortion?
    Over three thousand children are killed each day in this country as a form of birth control; the feminine path to avoid parental responsibility.
    And abortion laws afford only the female to make the difficult decision as to whether she is mentally, emotionally, and financially ready to be a parent. Fathers are not given the choice. After conception, they only have two dark choices: adhere unconditionally to a frightening, life-altering decision made for them by someone else, or run from the situation, which will lead to being ostracized and vilified at best, or spending time in jail at its worse. Is Obama ready to address this disparity?
  • African-American men are incarcerated at a much higher rate than any other group. This is found to a major component in father absenteeism. And in most cases, these fathers are still responsible for child support payments while imprisoned. Most will fall into the “deadbeat” dad list.
    Also, when these men get out of prison, most will not be able to land a job due to the rise of employers using extensive background checks for all new applicants. Most employers will not hire convicted criminals. How is Barack going to address the problem of a men wanting to work, capable of working, but finding no employer will hire them? At the same time, their court ordered child support payments go unpaid. This will lead them back to prison, and out of their children’s lives again, and leave mom raising the kids alone.
    Tightening child support enforcement without addressing this paradox will only cause more difficulties for them, and raise the potential that these fathers will run away to escape this vicious cycle.
  • Also, death rates for young African-American men are greater for this group than any other group. So how is Barack going to tackle this cycle of violence that leaves many children without fathers?

So as one can see, there are many COMPLEX reasons why African-American fathers (as well as other fathers) are not present in the home. To just blame fathers, calling them immature, irresponsible, and lazy is actually more indicative of Obama’s own emotional immaturity. It also is a display of his own irresponsibility, by speaking on this issue in a narrow-minded manner, and shows HIS lack of courage to hold others accountable who also contribute to the dilemma of absent fathers, particularly women and other politicians, because he is fearful of upsetting these people, and losing their support and their votes.

I feel it is obvious Barack Obama is not emotionally interested in fathers, only his chance at the presidency. While some of the comments he made about fathers were inspiring, the majority of it was negative. And while he addressed the problems black fathers face, it sounded no different than any other election year rhetoric – he offered only what has been promised before.
So at this point I would like to elaborate using words from his speech:

“Any fool can say what they want to get elected, but it takes a real man, and a real leader to implement real change. Let us realize that when it comes to addressing fathers that are absent in homes across this country, we shouldn’t send a boy to do a man’s job.”

(Note: Syndicated writer Kathleen Parker covers this same topic in her most recent article titled, “Calling all fathers, and mothers too”)

Other negatives on Fathers Day

When Mom and Dad Share It All – This article appeared in the New York Times on Fathers Day. Written by female writer Lisa Belkin, it is an extensive, 10 page feature article covering the disparity in housework between men and women, with extensive stats that keep reiterating how men fail at helping out at home. While some sections of the article defended men,

“Many women will also admit to the frisson of superiority, of a particular form of gratification, when they are the more competent parent, the one who can better soothe the tears in the middle of the night.”

its core message was obvious – family management is unequal and men are to blame.

It’s no coincidence that the New York Times ran this piece on Fathers Day. The NYT has always been supportive of feminism and its causes. And it’s disturbing to realize that it could have used 364 other days to run this piece, but it chose Fathers Day to intentionally damage the only day of the year set aside to honor good men and fathers. Think they would do that on Mothers Day?

But many female bloggers who read the article felt vindicated by it. Here are some responses:

“good for the Times staff to stick this around Father’s Day and I’m thrilled a few hairs were ruffled”

“my husband and I were surprised and, I admit, somewhat amused to hear that some readers took offense to the piece as somehow man-hating or anti-fathers”

“The article was challenging Dads on their special day to be better fathers – and not to just rest on their laurels”

It’s good to see these women found time to write their thoughts in between insulating the attic, changing the hot water heater, up on the roof cleaning leaves out of the gutters, and putting in a new sump pump.
Oh, I forgot. That’s men’s work!

Dads who grew up without fathers find their own way – This article is written by a woman named Carroll Cradock who is the director of Behavioral Health Services at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. Her discrimination of fathers is a little more insidious. On the surface it appears to be written to honor those men who grew up in a fatherless home, but unlike their fathers, chose to embrace the responsibility of fatherhood when they had children.
It appears to be a compassionate piece, stating,

“Many people have the mistaken idea that a man can’t be a good man — let alone a good father — if he didn’t have a dad of his own to show him how.”

How true. But then the writer throws a curve ball, saying,

“Despite such pessimism, these boys have good reason to believe they can become strong fathers. Although boys from homes without fathers dominate troubled groups while they are young, the majority do not fall to the wayside.”

This is the exact kind of paradox I’ve written about before, how society demands men understand the importance of their role in a child’s life, but at the same time, men are consistently reminded how unimportant their role is when all things are considered.

She goes on to say she has met or helped many men who were determined to become good fathers, in spite of the lack of a fatherly role model in their own life. She says these men did it by being persistent in asking others for help and guidance as they navigated the unfamiliar task of fatherhood.
Sounds great until she writes this:

“Other fathers I interviewed said they learned the most from their mothers, grandparents and the mothers of their own children.
Maybe it has always taken a village to raise a father. Maybe we’ve lost sight of the fact that uncles, mothers, grandparents, brothers, sisters, spouses and friends have always had a hand in mentoring men into fatherhood.”

Again we see the image of mother/female superiority over the father/male. Men are flawed creatures, always needing the guidance of women to help them navigate through life. Ironically, I have never read an article on Mothers Day – or any other day for that matter – that postulated that the best mothers are not those guided only by the wisdom of other women, but those who received relentless doses of male wisdom from the men in their lives.

She goes back to what I’ll call the fatherhood paradox by saying,

“It may be the case that future fathers and children most at risk are not those without a father in the home, but those living in communities with few adults willing and capable of putting the needs of children first.”

So again, if I’m reading it right, it is not that an absent father is actually a problem, but rather the community of adults who refuse to step up and mentor the fatherless child.
This reeks of the “children do not need a father, they just need a male role model” ideology, which is a component of feminist thinking. You will never hear someone say a child does not need a mother, that the role of motherhood is easily interchangeable with a part-time female role model. (To read another man’s point of view on this topic, go to Sweating Through the Fog)

My final thoughts: So are fathers important, or are they expendable?  And if fathers are important, why do we openly discriminate against them? Is this the gender equality feminist are fighting for, to discriminate against fathers on Fathers Day, but not mothers on Mothers Day? Why aren’t they speaking out against this gender inequality?

And lastly, when did the venture into motherhood automatically proclaim women infallible?

Now just the good news

The only way this discrimination is going to end is to start protesting it, without letting up. Some men have already begun the process. This is what took place on Friday:

Fathers 4 Justice, Los Angeles (F4JLA) and the National Coalition For Men, Los Angeles (NCFMLA) stood front and center this morning at the entrance to a downtown Los Angeles Courthouse. The corner of 1st St. and Hill St. is always a bustling intersection and this morning it was a little busier than usual. All across America, today is Fatherless Day, and folks are taking to the streets to call attention to the way family law and family law courts mistreat Fathers.
Story and pictures here.

And here is another example of how things are beginning to change as more fathers protest their discriminatory treatment:

Fathers sleep a lot, and they snore loudly. When they’re awake, they like to fish or golf, but they’re comically bad at both. They drink so much beer they’re practically alcoholics, and they’re complete couch potatoes, always watching television and hogging the remote. At least, that’s the less-than-favorable image of Dad on Father’s Day greeting cards. It’s a striking contrast to the poetic praise often expressed at Mother’s Day. Many men say they are tired of the “put-down” cards and would like some affirmation for a change — and at least one greeting-card company is listening.

The company is Hallmark – read it here.

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