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Klavan On The Culture

The Tyranny of Hip

February 20th, 2012 - 7:00 am

Desperately racing to catch up with the conservative sociologist Charles Murray whom they so despise, the leftist New York Times front-paged a story Saturday that basically bore out the central findings of Murray’s new book Coming Apart.

More than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage. … The fastest growth in the last two decades has occurred among white women in their 20s. … One group still largely resists the trend: college graduates, who overwhelmingly marry before having children. That is turning family structure into a new class divide, with the economic and social rewards of marriage increasingly reserved for people with the most education.

The leftist Times adds:

The shift is affecting children’s lives. Researchers have consistently found that children born outside marriage face elevated risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems.

In other words, educated people do better because they marry more. They’re also, according to Murray, more religious and industrious, which further improves their lives.

The leftist Times, of course — and many of Murray’s leftist reviewers — try to slant these findings to suggest poor people are somehow being made to suffer by society’s unfair privileging of the marriage state. We can soon expect to hear a good deal about how a more tolerant Europe does illegitimacy better. It is frustrating to know we will have to wait at least a decade before the Times and its leftist camp followers are proven — as they are always ultimately proven in these social matters — wrong yet again.

Those unwilling to wait that long can turn directly to Murray, who tends to go blithely about getting things right even as the left excoriates him. Murray understands that the debilitating shifts of poorer people away from marriage and religion are culturally induced and that the prescriptions to reverse them must be cultural as well. Among those fixes, as he said in a recent article in the paper of record (the Wall Street Journal):

The best thing that the new upper class can do… is to drop its condescending “non-judgmentalism.” Married, educated people who work hard and conscientiously raise their kids shouldn’t hesitate to voice their disapproval of those who defy these norms. When it comes to marriage and the work ethic, the new upper class must start preaching what it practices.

This is so clearly true that the only real question is: why don’t they? If marriage and religion give smart people joy and improve their living standards, why don’t they spread the word?

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