Fifty years is an uncomfortable milestone for things in general; it is long enough ago that few people still living will have been adult witnesses to the thing, but not quite so long as to have erased all witnesses. Fifty years is, say, long enough ago that even Supreme Court Justices can applaud the spirit of the movement, and long enough for those same Supreme Court Justices to declare that the problems of 50 years ago have now been solved, huzzah, but it is not long enough that they do not find themselves saying so in the presence of a man who was there at the time, and who disagrees. And all of this is a longwinded way for me to dodge talking about George Effing Will for a moment—but damn it, nope, he's still there. Ah, crap.
More on George Will below the fold.
Yes, George Will was one of the roundtable voices called upon to give his opinion on the March on Washington, apparently because the networks have these people permanently chained to their chairs. George Will will likely still be appearing on the Sunday Shows 10 years after his death. It may already be 10 years after his death—nothing George Will has said in the last decade has been anything more than a much-devolved regurgitation of things he once was able to say less stupidly, so we may be able to chalk up all his more recent efforts as the burblings of escaping gas. Here the panel is having a nice discussion on what the 50th anniversary means and what was really meant then and how things are now, and finally the camera reluctantly turns to the sharply dressed corpse of George Effing Will and he burbles forth with the opinion that civil rights really has never been the issue.
Will, however, pointed to a report published by Daniel Patrick Moynihan eight months after the march that said there was crisis in the African-American community "because 24 percent of African-American children are being born to unmarried women."The impressive thing about this is that George Will has either been holding a rather shudderingly archaic-sounding 1965 report called The Negro Family: The Case for National Action in his head for 49 years and four months, able to rattle off particular statistics cited within it, or more likely that he or the infestation of insect-like hard-right conservative interns now tasked with operating his hands and mouth decided that what would put the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington in its place would be, of all possible things, that. It was never about the voting rights, or the racism, or the violence, or the excruciating narrowness of available jobs, or the ghettoization, or the poverty that resulted from all the rest of it; no, it is cultural weakness on the part of black Americans to blame. The 1965 report blamed it on the "tangle of pathology" resulting from "the matriarchal pattern of so many Negro families"; the burbles of George Will helpfully reduce it further to being unmarried.
"Today, it's tripled, 72 percent," Will added. "And that, not an absence of rights is surely the biggest impediment."
So it's not an absence of rights that is surely the biggest impediment, George Will says with all apparent seriousness, in apparent counterpoint to all these people who have been mentioning ongoing racism and criminal injustices and new voter suppression efforts and levels of unemployment and poverty that have been all but proclaimed as the new normal, the to-be-cherished new upper bound of non-success for the poor and the middle class alike, but unmarried women. Unmarried women have been the problem all along. If we marry off the women, it only stands to reason, all the rest of this will be solved.
I have a new theory. My new theory is that the Sunday shows exist not to inform us or debate things or, God help us, hear from anyone who might be an actual expert on anything at all. They simply exist to remind the nation, or at least any poor saps in the nation who still watch these things, that punditry is a static enterprise. Entirely. No matter what happens in the world, no matter which wars need fighting, no matter whether the economy turns good or turns bad, no matter whether any government program works or does not, no matter what new evidence of what comes over the transom or what gets exposed as hokum, you will still hear the exact same notions expressed in the exact same ways by the exact same people, ad nauseam, ad infinitum, ad undas, to the extent that even the footnotes of the arguments may be 49 years and 4 months old. Fashion changes, but the types of people propped up to object to Martin Luther King Jr. and his pesky opinions on things have not changed in the slightest.