|Vol. 12, No.
March 4, 1996
Table of Contents
by William Norman Grigg
During his recent State of the Union address, Bill Clinton committed a significant slip of the tongue. While touching upon his Administration's efforts to enforce child support payments, Mr. Clinton declared: "A check will substitute for a parent's love and guidance." Whoops! As prepared for delivery, the text of the address specified that "A check will never be a substitute for a father's love and guidance"; perhaps Mr. Clinton simply could not force himself to utter the sentence as written. One need not be a disciple of Sigmund Freud to believe that unsettling truths are sometimes disclosed inadvertently - and Mr. Clinton's "Freudian slip" was actually a very tidy summation of his Administration's policies toward the family.
Since coming to power in 1993, the Clinton vanguard has tirelessly urged the enrichment of AFDC, Head Start, and other federal welfare programs as a means of "investing in children." Such "investments" not only create an incentive for single parenthood, but also make the federal government the surrogate father. By subsidizing the mother, the state effectively controls the home.
This variety of social control was pioneered in the early years of this century by Britain's Fabian Socialists, who pursued the triumph of socialism through political conquest rather than communist-style violence. In his book New Worlds for Old, Fabian H.G. Wells wrote that "Socialism regards parentage under proper safeguards as 'not only a duty but a service' to the state; that is to say, it proposes to pay for good parentage - in other words, to endow the home."
The Clinton Administration is faithfully pursuing the Fabian vision of child care, and that vision is heartily endorsed in Hillary Rodham Clinton's opus, It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us.
Like the Fabians, whose insignia included a wolf in sheep's clothing, Mrs. Clinton seeks to camouflage her collectivism. The back cover of It Takes a Village displays a photograph of Mrs. Clinton surrounded by children, and its contents are written in the same faux-domestic prose which clutters Mrs. Clinton's syndicated column. Each chapter begins with a treacly epigram and a personal reminiscence, and some of the book's points are illustrated by cartoons. By design, the volume is as cloying and unsubstantial as cotton candy - but it is a confection laced with strychnine.
It Takes a Village is replete with designs for government "investment" in children. A typical passage insists: "The next time you hear someone using the word 'investment' to describe what we need to do for our youngest, most vulnerable family members, think about the investments the village has the power to make in children's first few weeks, months, and years. They will reap us all extraordinary dividends...."
The state must be a constant presence in the home in order to protect its "investment," and therapeutic police - in the form of social workers or "home visitors" - have no greater champion than Mrs. Clinton. "I cannot say enough in support of home visits," she declares. She obliquely chides Americans for failing to share her enthusiasm, noting that "all Western European countries provide some form of home health visitors." However, she is enthusiastic about early intervention programs presently in place in some states, such as Missouri's "Parents As Teachers" initiative (PAT) and Hawaii's "Healthy Start" program, both of which use home visitors to supervise parental decisions in the home.
The PAT program is intended to encourage the "intellectual development" of children by making each home an administrative unit of the social welfare state. "Certified Parent Educators" are assigned to each PAT home with the authority to intervene in parental decisions. Hawaii's "Healthy Start" program is similarly structured but justifies its interventionism in the name of preventing child abuse. Although the program is supposedly restricted to homes which are designated "at risk" of child abuse, Mrs. Clinton approvingly notes that Healthy Start "currently screens more than half of the sixteen thousand babies born in the state each year" - meaning that the program considers "at risk" homes to be the norm, and healthy homes the exception.
Writes Hillary, "If the family is considered to be at risk, Healthy Start offers a follow-up home visitor." But once the state has infiltrated the home, it does not confine itself to child abuse prevention. In a March 1993 profile of Healthy Start, ABC reporter Rebecca Chase observed, "The program is also proving to be an effective way to link families with other services - birth control, medical care, and preschool, for example."
Collectivists from Plato to Mao Tse-tung have insisted that children are the "common property" of society, and that the state, rather than the parents, is the custodian of first resort. Mrs. Clinton tries to finesse the custodianship issue by depicting the state as a partner in child-rearing: "Keeping children healthy in body and mind is the family's and the village's first obligation." But this responsibility can only be exercised by one party - and the state, which is the instrument of coercion, is obviously the stronger party in this unequal "partnership."
Indeed, Mrs. Clinton admits as much by advising the reader that there are "terrible times when no adequate parenting is available and the village itself must act in place of parents. It accepts those responsibilities in all our names through the authority we vest in government...." In questions of child abuse or neglect, maintains Mrs. Clinton, "a child's safety must take precedence over the preservation of a family that has allowed abuse to occur" and "social workers and courts should make decisions about terminating parental rights of abusive parents more quickly, rather than removing and returning abused children time and again."
While this might appear to be a reasonable standard, it begs this question: How is "abuse" to be defined? Mrs. Clinton suggests that abuse may include not only physical battering and sexual molestation but "verbal violence." Furthermore, she is critical of homes which provide inadequate "brain food" for children, and asserts that the "village" must provide "more and better early education" for children who live in such homes. Might the failure of parents to provide federally approved "brain food" for their children be defined as a form of neglect, remediable only through the seizure of children by "village" authorities?
"Empowerment" and Control
Collectivist family schematics invariably include a eugenicist component, and Mrs. Clinton's vision is no exception. She offers an unqualified endorsement of the "Program of Action" produced by the United Nations at the 1994 population control summit in Cairo. She also declares that "Education and empowerment start with giving parents the means and the encouragement to plan pregnancy itself" and insists, "Some of the best models for doing this come from abroad." Recalling a clinic she visited in Indonesia, Mrs. Clinton writes: "Every month, tables are set up under the trees in a clearing, and doctors and nurses hold the clinic there. Women come to have their babies examined, to get medical advice, and to exchange information. A large poster-board chart notes the method of birth control each family is using, so that the women can compare problems and results." She describes this Indonesian clinic as "a wonderful example of how the village - both the immediate community and the larger society - can use basic resources to help families." The attentive reader might point out that the Indonesian model is also a vivid example of social regimentation through peer pressure: The program makes parents publicly accountable for their compliance with the state's population control policies.
Similar methods have been employed by the governments of Communist China, socialist India, and other havens of family "empowerment" - and Hillary unblushingly exalts this approach as a model for health care delivery in the United States.
Toward the "Global Village"
Mrs. Clinton scolds "anti-government extremists" for indulging in "second-guessing and cynicism about the motives and actions of every leader and institution" - a remarkable complaint coming from an activist who first earned notoriety as a member of the Watergate investigative team. Like Saddam Hussein, she knows the value of using children as a "human shield"; she urges readers to "try applying the invective you hear levelled broadly at 'government programs' directly to the children who are among their most important beneficiaries."
Nowhere in the book does she acknowledge the possibility that government may more often be a malefactor than a benefactor. Not surprisingly, Mrs. Clinton has little use for the Constitution and declares, "We cannot move forward by looking to the past for easy solutions." "Extremists" who insist on clinging to the Founders' vision, according to Mrs. Clinton, "fail to provide a viable pathway from the cold war to the global village."
One commentator who wants no part of Mrs. Clinton's "global village" is The Nation's Alexander Cockburn, an English expatriate whose childhood acquaintances included members of the Fabian Society's social circle. "Time and again, reading … It Takes a Village, I was reminded of [Fabian founder] Beatrice Webb," observes Cockburn. "There's the same imperious gleam, the same lust to improve the human condition until it conforms to the wretchedly constricted vision of freedom that gave us social-worker liberalism, otherwise known as therapeutic policing."
Lest it be forgotten, in Waco the Clinton Administration improved upon Fabian-style "therapeutic policing" by introducing immolation as child therapy - a potent reminder of why parents should be very suspicious when the "village" elders show up on their doorstep.
It Took a Ghostwriter
by William Norman Grigg
Like most collectivists, Mrs. Clinton has few compunctions about apropriating the fruits of a productive person's labors - in this case, the labors of a ghostwriter. In a syndicated column, Mrs. Clinton claimed to have written the entire text of It Takes a Village in longhand and professed a desire to "join the ranks of the computer-competent." The book's title page lists Mrs. Clinton as the sole author, and the "Acknowledgments" page offers a perfunctory recognition that "It takes a village to bring a book into the world" without mentioning any specific names.
However, Simon and Schuster announced in April 1995 that Georgetown journalism professor Barbara Feinman would write the manuscript of the book based on audiotapes of interviews with Mrs. Clinton. A "backgrounder" provided by the White House acknowledges that "Simon and Schuster selected Barbara Feinman … to help Mrs. Clinton as she began to write her book" and that the publisher had provided the First Lady with a fax machine and a word processor (so much for drafting the manuscript in longhand). Esquire magazine reporter Jeanette Walls was able to confirm this arrangement with a source close to the project, but was told by Feinman that she was contractually bound not to discuss her work for Mrs. Clinton.