Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Keith A Fournier

4/12/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

So how should we respond? We should reject her straw man argument entirely. It is not a matter of individualist vs. collectivist thinking at all.

The real key to understanding Ms Harris-Perry is her use of the word "collectively." She argues that children belong collectively to the State. Thus, she is a collectivist. Since her views are of the leftist variety, she is being accused by some of her interlocutors being a socialist. However, collectivism, whether of the right or the left, must be completely rejected. It is a grave threat to authentic human freedom.

Melissa Harris-Perry

Melissa Harris-Perry

Highlights

By Keith A Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/12/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Melissa Harris-Perry, Collectivism, Parents, Presidential Election of 2016, Rick Santorum, Hilary Clinton, Keith Fournier, Deacon Keith Fournier


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Since the furor over Melissa Harris-Perry's comments has not died down, I have decided to weigh in. For my readers who may not yet know what the comments were, here is a transcript of a commercial she did for the MSNBC network:

"We have never invested as much in public education as we should have. We haven't had a very collective notion of, these are our children. We have to break through our private idea that children belong to their parents, or children belong to their families, and recognize that children belong to whole communities. Once it's everybody's responsibility and not just the household's, we start making better investments."

Media pundits have been busily dissecting Ms Harris-Perry's words in this controversial commercial. She has partially succeeded in what she probably intended, bringing notoriety to herself in order to continue her efforts to remake the social vision of this Nation.

Some defending her views have tried to dismiss the outrage they elicited among those who object to collectivism as simply 'right wing' or 'conservative'. They use both as terms of derision in order to dismiss the argument without engaging in any intelligent debate.

Some thoughtful analysts pointed out that her basic premise in the first sentence is false, that we have not spent enough on public education. The truth is we spend much more than most Nations and we have reaped very poor results. 

I also take exception to the straw man argument in her second sentence. Her effort is clear, to denigrate the role of parents and the value of the family. Respecting the primacy of parents and the family is not a private notion at all. It is profoundly public and has great implications for how we structure our society.

Her language is loaded. She intentionally makes it sound as though the idea of the primacy of parents is an outdated concept which makes children property. That is nonsense. Worse, it is propaganda of the rankest kind.

She simply wants to demean those who believe that children are given to parents and that the family is the first cell of society because she has a very different idea of how we should structure the social order. 

The real key to understanding Ms Harris-Perry is her use of the word "collectively." She argues that children belong collectively to the State. Thus, she is a collectivist. Since her views are of the leftist variety, she is being accused by some of her interlocutors being a socialist. However, collectivism, whether of the right or the left, must be completely rejected. It is a grave threat to authentic human freedom.

So how should we respond? We should reject her straw man argument entirely. It is not a matter of individualist vs. collectivist thinking at all. We affirm the proper understanding of our obligation in solidarity but insist upon its proper application through the principle of subsidiarity.

Solidarity acknowledges that we are our brother and sister's keeper. We are responsible for one another. This is true. In fact, we are not fully human unless we are in relationship with one another. Freedom and human flourishing are not found in a notion of the isolated individual as the ground of human freedom.

We were made to give ourselves in love and service to the other; to form societies and communities of interest. We build societies to further humanize us, enable us to live in peace together and promote human flourishing. The role of mediating associations is to assist in governing and play their proper role between the family and governing structures beyond it. 

Children are given to parents and extend the family circle. All other government must defer to this first cell of social government and move out - or up - from there, never usurping the primacy of the family. The family is the first government, the first school, first economy, first hospital, first church and the first mediating institution. The proper role of any Government is to support the first government in the home and empower parents and the family.

We need a family friendly public policy which promotes fidelity and encourages motherhood, fatherhood and intact families. We do not need collectivism. The argument which this comment by Melissa Harris-Perry's endorsement of collectivism engendered reminded me of a book I read and reviewed years ago, It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good . It was authored by a friend, Rick Santorum. He was contending with an argument much like the one made by Ms Harris-Perry by Hilary Clinton in a book she wrote entitled It Takes a Village. 

As the 2016 Presidential election approaches, the issues raised by both books should help to define and frame the debate. Melissa Harris-Perry may have actually helped to pave the way for  a discussion we desperately need to have as a Nation.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More U.S.

How Can We Overcome Fear? Watch

Image of Perhaps we are no longer as crippled by our fears as we were when we were younger, but they still lurk in the background, robbing our freedom and preventing our human flourishing. They harm our relationships and can impede our growth.We can be set free!

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Unable to overcome fear by our own effort, we are often overcome by it. Though we may develop coping mechanisms over time, or learn to hide the interior reactions caused by fear, inside, it can paralyze us and impede us from living our lives to the full. The ... continue reading


'Political correctness' could have cost lives in White House Security breach Watch

Image of It was later revealed that the fence-jumper made it all the way to the East Room of the White House, on the second floor.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Political correctness" is a hot-button term that has come to mean irrelevance as applied to any given situation. According to Representative Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), who sits on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, "political correctness" ... continue reading


Watch out Saudi Arabia! U.S. oil production expected to rapidly increase Watch

Image of A Saudi Arabian oil refinery.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The International Energy Agency says that U.S. production of petroleum is set to exceed that of Saudi Arabia's for the first time since 1991. A growing sign of the future of the American energy sector. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The production of oil and ... continue reading


Latinos run from Obama en mass after president punts immigration reform Watch

Image of Latino activists have turned their back on President Obama after he dropped immigration reform until the midterm election.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama has bowed to worried Senate Democrats, delaying executive actions on immigration until after the midterm elections, fearing that using executive actions would make immigration reform a partisan issue which would hurt Democrats. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


As thousands of illegals enter U.S., who's stuck with the education bill? Watch

Image of Tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors have flooded into the U.S. during 2014 alone, mostly from South America. While they await immigration trials, schools are responsible for teaching them.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The large numbers of unaccompanied minors who have been illegally crossing into the U.S. from Mexico in ever greater numbers have caused American schools to scramble in an attempt to provide services. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The children and teens who ... continue reading


St. Michael the Archangel, Defend Us in Battle: Pope Francis Takes on the Devil Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Now the new People of God is the Church. That is the reason she considers him her protector and support in all her struggles for the defense and expansion of the kingdom of God on earth. It is true that "the powers of death shall not prevail", as the Lord assured ... continue reading


Need milk? Eggs or flower? The Post Office may have you covered Watch

Image of Amazon partnered with the USPS to provide daily grocery deliveries to people in the San Francisco Bay area, a program the USPS wants to extend to the rest of the country.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The U.S. Postal Service has revealed a new plan to reverse its six-year streak of billion-dollar losses, which is as ingenious as it is simple. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The USPS wants to deliver your groceries to you, and the agency sent this proposal to ... continue reading


Where the buffalo roam... Native Americans plan return of free range Bison on the American Great Plains Watch

Image of Bison calves are playful and eager to roam free.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Buffalo are part of the American west. Across the vast prairies of the Great Plains, herds grazed and migrated, crisscrossing the open grasslands in great, thundering tides. Each year, some of these buffalo were hunted by Native Americans who used everything, from ... continue reading


What did he drink to stay alive? Prison guards suspected of murder after inmate dies of thirst Watch

Image of Investigations continue into the death of a mentally ill man at a North Carolina prison.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A mentally ill North Carolina man died of thirst after being placed in solitary confinement for 35 and having the water to his cell shut down by prison officials. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Michael Kerr, an inmate at the Alexander Correctional Institution ... continue reading


Who Are the Mother and Brothers of Jesus? We Are Watch

Image of The Father of Jesus becomes our Father also, as we enter, through Him, into the inner life of the Trinity. He underscores this truth right before He ascended when He instructed Mary of Magdala to tell the disciples

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

In this exchange, Jesus opens up for those with eyes to see and ears to hear the deeper interior importance and meaning of the motherhood of Mary  and the interior meaning of all family relationships renewed by the Holy Spirit. He gives to those with ears to ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Job 9:1-12, 14-16
1 Job spoke next. He said:2 Indeed, I know ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 88:10-11, 12-13, 14-15
10 Do you work wonders for the dead, can shadows rise ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:57-62
57 As they travelled along they met a man on the road ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 1st, 2014 Image

St. Therese of Lisieux
October 1: Generations of Catholics have admired this young saint, called ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter