Don’t Give Up on the Nuclear Family

Feb. 25 2020

In a recent essay, the opinion writer David Brooks argues that the American nuclear family flourished because of a unique set of social and economic factors that took hold from 1950 to 1965. But the nuclear family proved too fragile to withstand subsequent challenges. Therefore, Brooks concluded, the proper response to the current crisis of the family is not to recreate the nuclear family of midcentury America but instead to reach farther back to older and more enduring forms of social and familial relations. Mona Charen is unconvinced:

In his more than 8,000-word essay, Brooks fails to grapple with marriage. Without solid marriages to form the bedrock of families, it is hard to see how the extended families or family alternatives Brooks envisions can flourish.

In what seems an inversion, Brooks lays at the feet of the nuclear family the awful consequences of its collapse. Citing the rise of loneliness among the elderly, for example, Brooks chalks this up to the lack of “extended families.” He neglects to cite the decline of marriage and the rise of divorce. In other words, more elderly Americans are lonely because they are divorced or never married (leaving aside the irreducible percentage who are widows or widowers). It is un-marriage that has contributed to this problem more than the loss of extended families.

While it’s true that the 1950s are not coming back, we don’t need to consult history to find nuclear families that are thriving. As Brooks acknowledges, among the college-educated upper third in America today, marriage remains nearly as universal as it was among all Americans decades ago. Even in our era, . . . Americans with college degrees are managing to make the nuclear-family model work. Not just work, thrive. Interestingly, as [the eminent sociologist] Charles Murray highlighted in [his recent book] Coming Apart, the college-educated are actually more likely to be religiously observant than the less-educated today. That was not the case 50 years ago.

But it isn’t just wealthy families that are clinging to the nuclear model. Among the religiously observant, like Orthodox Jews and Mormons, the nuclear family remains strong. . . . Even among the poor, some are making marriage and the nuclear family a priority. Among immigrants, 76 percent of children live with two parents compared with 62 percent of native-born families—this, despite the fact that a quarter of immigrant parents do not have high-school diplomas.

Read more at Bulwark

More about: Family, Marriage, Religion


Iran’s Four-Decade Strategy to Envelope Israel in Terror

Yesterday, the head of the Shin Bet—Israel’s internal security service—was in Washington meeting with officials from the State Department, CIA, and the White House itself. Among the topics no doubt discussed are rising tensions with Iran and the possibility that the latter, in order to defend its nuclear program, will instruct its network of proxies in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq and Yemen to attack the Jewish state. Oved Lobel explores the history of this network, which, he argues, predates Iran’s Islamic Revolution—when Shiite radicals in Lebanon coordinated with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s movement in Iran:

An inextricably linked Iran-Syria-Palestinian axis has actually been in existence since the early 1970s, with Lebanon the geographical fulcrum of the relationship and Damascus serving as the primary operational headquarters. Lebanon, from the 1980s until 2005, was under the direct military control of Syria, which itself slowly transformed from an ally to a client of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nexus among Damascus, Beirut, and the Palestinian territories should therefore always have been viewed as one front, both geographically and operationally. It’s clear that the multifront-war strategy was already in operation during the first intifada years, from 1987 to 1993.

[An] Iranian-organized conference in 1991, the first of many, . . . established the “Damascus 10”—an alliance of ten Palestinian factions that rejected any peace process with Israel. According to the former Hamas spokesperson and senior official Ibrahim Ghosheh, he spoke to then-Hizballah Secretary-General Abbas al-Musawi at the conference and coordinated Hizballah attacks from Lebanon in support of the intifada. Further important meetings between Hamas and the Iranian regime were held in 1999 and 2000, while the IRGC constantly met with its agents in Damascus to encourage coordinated attacks on Israel.

For some reason, Hizballah’s guerilla war against Israel in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s was, and often still is, viewed as a separate phenomenon from the first intifada, when they were in fact two fronts in the same battle.

Israel opted for a perilous unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, which Hamas’s Ghosheh asserts was a “direct factor” in precipitating the start of the second intifada later that same year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: First intifada, Hizballah, Iran, Palestinian terror, Second Intifada