The Baby Bust and the New Progressive Turn against Marriage

Despite a robust economy and low levels of unemployment, U.S. fertility rates have continued to fall, as they have done for roughly a decade. While some have pointed to such possible causes as the cost of childcare and other material factors, Ross Douthat observes that—however worthy of discussion these issues may in themselves be—the fertility rates of married couples have actually remained steady. This suggests that the real problem is the declining marriage rate—a trend Douthat connects with a “third phase” of liberal attitudes toward marriage:

This new phase is incomplete and contested, and it includes elements—in #MeToo feminism, especially—whose ultimate valence could theoretically be congenial to cultural conservatives. But in general the emerging progressivism seems hostile not only to anything tainted by conservative religion or “gender essentialism” [the now-derided belief that biological sex differences are meaningful] but to any idea of sexual or reproductive normativity, period, outside a bureaucratically supervised definition of “consent.” And it’s therefore disinclined to regard lifelong monogamy as anything more than one choice among many, one script to play with or abandon, one way of being whose decline should not necessarily be mourned, and whose still-outsized cultural power probably requires further deconstruction to be anything more than a patriarchal holdover, a prison, and a trap. . . .

[I]t does not feel like a coincidence that the new phase tracks with the recent decline in childbearing. If the new liberal hostility to marriage-as-normative-institution is not one of the ideological causes of our latest post-familial ratchet, it is at least a ex-post-facto ideological excuse, in which the frequent prestige-media pitches for polyamory or open marriages or “escaping gender norms” entirely are there to reassure people who might otherwise desire a little more normativity (and a few more children) in their lives, that it’s all cool because they’re in the vanguard of a revolution.

Certainly the new phase of liberalism is increasing the political polarization of both marital practice and marital beliefs. . . . [I]n the aggregate, Republicans marry more and divorce less than Democrats, ideological conservatives are much more likely to be married than ideological liberals, and conservatives are more than twice as likely to describe marriage as something “needed” for “strong families.”

Read more at New York Times

More about: American society, Family, Fertility, Marriage, Progressivism

The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy