Politics

Children of the State

There is no such thing as other people’s children. – Hillary Clinton

Conservative Americans fancy that socialism has been largely defeated or that its greatest remaining threat lies in taxation and spending. They forget that the dream of leftist revolutionaries for centuries has been not only to equalize wealth and social status, but to eliminate all distinctions among the citizens of their ideal republic. All of these revolutionaries from Marx on down have targeted the family for destruction.

Undemocratic Institution

The family is a highly undemocratic institution. The nuclear family consists of one man and one woman, a highly specific and unliberated straitjacket of a social structure. They have loyalty to one another greater than that to society at large and also dedication to their own children, over whom they have authority—and any private authority is a rival to the government’s. To a true democrat, this preference for one’s spouse and authority over one’s children violates the principle of equality, which proclaims that we must treat everyone exactly the same. For the modern democratic statist, these loyalties and authorities weaken his own power and inhibit the ongoing concentration of all authority in one central government.

Stephen Baskerville’s Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family (Cumberland House) details just how far leftists have succeeded in abolishing the family. Of course, anyone with a cursory knowledge of the state of the American family knows that it has been largely destroyed, with most children spending at least part of their childhoods without one of their biological parents at home, a divorce rate of more than 40%, an ever-increasing illegitimacy rate and no-fault divorce laws that render a marriage compact less legally enforceable than a cell-phone contract.

Yet what most do not know, even if they follow family issues, is that our family courts are nearly all-powerful, unaccountable star chambers that openly reject due process, traditional legal rights and the Constitution itself. Family courts are civil courts or courts of equity, not criminal courts, so most constitutional protections and procedures do not apply, even though these courts have been given tremendous power. They routinely take couples’ children away from them without trial on the flimsiest accusation of abuse from a teacher or neighbor, limit or eliminate one or both parents’ contact with their own children after divorce without any evidence of wrongdoing on the parents’ part, order parents to pay the fees of lawyers and psychotherapists they did not hire, and send parents to jail without a hearing.

Control of the Courts

This excellent book carefully documents the extreme control that these courts have and how faithless mothers—and, increasingly, faithless fathers—use them and are used by them to eject the other parent from the family and garnish his wages for themselves. Then, of course, these mothers must obey the courts’ every order concerning how their children are raised and educated, and the courts are not shy about imposing government-approved methods. Baskerville knows his subject backward and forward and provides 974 endnotes for documentation and further reading. He also provides intriguing psychosocial speculation on why parenthood, and particularly fatherhood, have come under such intense attack in recent decades as a culmination of the long-ago revolt against broader social fatherhood—organic societies and traditional monarchies—and against God the Father Himself.

Those who believe that the United States has, despite the occasional abuse, a just legal system will probably ignore the above. Yet in a country where the courts have declared abortion-on-demand a constitutional right no matter what legislators say and have authorized the government to effectively confiscate land without compensation if an official finds an endangered species on it, is this so unbelievable?

Baskerville repeatedly points out that it is no secret that family courts operate in this way. They officially have the powers that they use thousands of times every day. Unwillingly divorced fathers and children bear the brunt of the family court industry, which profits every time a family is broken but loses financially whenever one stays together. A mother who unilaterally divorces her husband receives primary custody of their children the vast majority of the time and child-support payments to boot. Under the no-fault divorce laws of the various states, wrongdoing on the part of the father is usually not alleged, much less proven. It doesn’t matter: When one party wants to destroy the marriage, the other pays—and now that more men are catching on to the game, mothers are beginning to lose out. Yet contrary to the image portrayed even by conservative journalists, at least two-thirds of divorces are desired by the woman and not the man. It is more women than men who are destroying families today.

Fathers Needed in Homes

The consensus among the vast majority of liberal social scientists, as Baskerville explains, is that children without their biological fathers in the home are far more likely to be abused, poor and develop psychological problems. More than race, income, or race and income combined, father absence is a predictor of juvenile delinquency, drug abuse and mental illness. Divorce harms children by reducing their fathers’ presence in their lives far more often than it helps them—and even scientists can see it.

Baskerville, a longtime fathers’ rights activist and now a professor of government at Patrick Henry College, provides one horror story after another: The unwillingly divorced father ordered to pay two-thirds of his income in child support, the man innocent of any crime jailed for saying hello to his children in the street. Since family courts usually operate in secret without oversight, there is no way of telling how common such atrocities are. But the real horror is the routine process: The power of the courts to control parents’ access to their children and determine their financial lives once the betraying spouse decides to abandon the other.

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