On Monday, Martha MacCallum had a very thoughtful segment on her FOX News show THE BREAKING STORY, talking about the toxic environment surrounding boys and young men, the kind that encourages them to act out with horrific violence. “There’s a sickness in America,” she said.
Partisan “experts” like to say that the people most likely to pick up a semi-automatic weapon and shoot up a public place are almost overwhelmingly young, male, far-right and white supremacist. Statistically speaking, they’re absolutely right about the young and white part, but they’re off on the political/racial animus part.
I was a guest for that segment, but before I came on, Martha talked with the brilliant Dr. Warren Farrell, who has spent the past four decades studying men and boys in America. His overall point: something that leaves young men with a hole in their hearts has been brewing for a very long time. One of the biggest factors is what he calls “the dad deficit,” which is the title of one of his books on the subject. Of the mass shooters who have killed 8 or more people, 26 out of 27 had been deprived of their fathers.
Even though many kids are growing up without fathers today, that statistic is stunning. Dr. Farrell says that boys without dads lack a male role model to channel their testosterone effectively. (Talk about politically incorrect! Boys aren’t supposed to need a man in their lives, according to women who want to believe that. Come to think of it, some would even say they don’t need testosterone.) Men in general, he says, tend to be much tougher on enforcing boundaries than the moms are, which means boys have to learn to postpone gratification, which means they work harder in the present, which means they have more accomplishment in school and sports, which leads to praise and encouragement from others and pride in themselves.
Martha made a good point: that there are many boys growing up in divided families or without fathers who do just fine and don’t go on to commit crimes. (I would add that they manage, in turn, to become good role models for the sons they might have in the future, which is so important.) Many single moms do a great job of enforcing boundaries. But often there’s a clash of personalities that makes this challenging even for moms who see the importance of doing it. We’re not talking here about the boys who do all right –-we’re talking about a particular subset of boys who lack identity and struggle socially.
Martha had a good question: Why is it that of the many girls who also grow up without fathers, almost none become mass killers? They have the same access to violent video games and even to guns that boys do. The answer, I’m sure, is complex, and girls without dads have a different sort of hole to fill, but Dr. Farrell pointed out one key factor: that young girls in fatherless homes typically still have a female role model and get at least some empathy at home. Still, the boys and girls who tend to do significantly better have benefited from what he calls “checks and balances” parenting, with dads dealing more with boundary enforcement and moms focused more on nurturing.
The last words posted by one young man before he shot someone to death were “I wish I had a dad.” Others tell of the sense of power they get from picking up a gun.
Dr. Farrell described a typical scenario in which boys are told by their moms that girls like the sensitive guys, but then they see girls going out with the not-so-sensitive captain of the football team instead. They feel hurt, angry, rejected. “Boys who hurt, hurt us,” he said.
As we see a marked increase in the problems of young men –- including suicide –- Dr. Farrell recommends a White House Council on Men and Boys. Who would’ve thought that the life expectancy of this segment of our population would be going down? But it is, he said, along with sperm counts and even IQ.
Then it was my turn to talk with Martha, who in her introduction brought up the decline in social support systems that used to be the bedrock of communities: mediating institutions such as churches, Rotary Club, Scouting, etc. It’s so true; kids used to get together at the library, the park or the “Y”; now they get on social media. They used to belong to clubs and groups and get involved in community activities; now they’re often lost and lonely. They feel abandoned by their fathers, with whom they would love to identify and can’t. Many blame themselves: “Why would my dad leave me? What did I do? What is it about me that would make him leave?”
What about finding spiritual answers? That’s tough for this reason: How can a young man think of God as his Father, when the image he has of his own earthly father is someone who abandoned him or beat up his mother? But the hole in the human heart can’t be filled just by human things; it has to be filled by spiritual things. It’s the spiritual that gives a young man a higher sense of who he is and why he matters.
White supremacy is a hideous evil. But the young man in Dayton seems to have identified with leftist politics, though the media (of course) are not doing very much with that fact, as it doesn’t fit their false “Trump/racism” narrative. Before the bodies lying on the floor of that mall in El Paso were cold, activists were sprinting to cameras and microphones to politicize the issue and blame President Trump. I don’t remember anyone blaming Bill Clinton or Barack Obama when similar violence erupted during their administrations. Just remember, it’s not the President’s fault –- no matter who is President.
It’s the fault of our culture. Kids get drawn into destructive fringe ideologies because they’re looking for significance in their lives. Lives without significance are easy to throw away. If young people don’t have those basic relationships with their families and their God from which to draw that significance, we all better look out, because some of them will find ways to release their anger and hate, as we continue to see.
'It's our cultural fault': Mike Huckabee pinpoints spiritual crisis behind mass shootings