Friday, February 28, 2014

Don Lemon hosts report on Obama's "My Brother's Keeper" initiative on CNN

At 11 PM Thursday night, CNN aired a one hour special by anchor Don Lemon on President Obama’s initiative “My Brother’s Keeper”. CNN’s link for the special is here. It aired right after CNN's TCM film "And the OSCAR Goes to" (Movies blog, Feb. 27). 
The President’s own link at the White House site is here.  
The president seems to single out certain men of color (Black, and non-white Hispanic, but not Asian and not from India).  Really, he could have talked about all men growing up in disadvantaged homes (like rural whites as in Appalachia).  He gave alarming statistics of how many black teens wind up with police records and how many do not have fathers.  The president said that he missed having a father but that his own home was forgiving.  He seemed to be hinting that some minority men are taught to use violence to resolve problems, because it is used on them, sometimes in the home.  (Curiously, Reid Ewing’s first “Reid-ing” video “It’s Free” ends with a discussion with another actor where they comment about this problem in low-income homes;  see movies blog, May 13, 2013, toward the end of the posting;  I think the president might have seen this.)

Don Lemon, himself African-American and gay,  created a stir with his own take last fall when he suggested that black men needed to “pull up their pants” and not view themselves as “victims” of inequality. That’s pretty much the “Southpark” take emphasizing personal responsibility as a value.   Nevertheless, it’s possible that “inequality” conveys the impression that the rules of civilization are meaningless because they don’t apply to everyone.  Young men in dysfunctional families don’t learn the cognitive skills to recognize consequences of actions or to see the eventual benefit of following the rules.  They don’t learn how to compete in a more intellectual and cognition based world.
Other young men around the world learn incentives for crime in other ways.  In Russia, plenty of teens have the talent to make a good living in the west, but their own society does not pay enough for legitimate technology work and Putin’s government even encourages their using computer crime to steal from westerners.  
Social conservatives will say that permissive sexual values and the declining role of traditional marriages leads low-income men to abandon their children.  Why can’t we hold them more responsible for their own behavior? 

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