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No social pattern is more divisive, more dangerous or more steadfastly denied, he has asserted for close to a decade.“The trend of fatherlessness is so big now, the dimensions of the crisis have grown so large,” said Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values here. But Blankenhorn thinks the problem is even broader. In David Blankenhorn’s view, virtually every social ill in this country can be attributed to the single cause of fatherlessness. And we can’t ignore him anymore.” For the first time, Blankenhorn said--citing data from his just-published book, “Fatherless America” (Basic Books)--more than half of U. children will spend “a significant” part of childhood without a father in the home. Thirty percent of all children are born to unmarried women, he reports, and for African American children, the figure is 68%.There he was, amid the cacophony of trans-Atlantic creative conferences in Dutch and English, trying to sound authoritative as he answered his own telephone, “Institute for American Values.” He barely had enough money to pay his postage. After all, the debate he was engaging in was “not even on the radar screen” at that time.
His name seems to be popping up everywhere, most recently on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, where on Feb.
Blankenhorn, board chairman of the National Fatherhood Initiative, is using that group’s nationwide tour as a vehicle to promote the ideas in his book.
Nobody knows if you mean abortion or Woody Allen.” He has also strived, right from the beginning, to avoid “sanctimonious finger-pointing” in any political direction.
“I don’t like hearing people say, ‘We’re in a pickle, and it’s all because of this group or that group,’ ” Blankenhorn said.
To me, they were the bad guys.”Blankenhorn inaugurated his venture three years later, working from a single desk in the greeting card company that his wife, Raina Sacks Blankenhorn, was in the process of selling to Dutch entrepreneurs.
The gap between “the pretension of the name” and the actual operation was laughable, Blankenhorn said.“He embraced this issue very early on.”But Blankenhorn said that in taking on the plight of mothers, fathers and children in contemporary America, he carefully sidestepped at least one buzz term.“I don’t like the phrase ‘family values,’ ” he said. It has political baggage that I don’t like, and it never has been used in a precise way.28 he summarized much of his thesis by writing: “Today, fatherlessness is viewed as normal--regrettable, perhaps, but acceptable.”The splash has puzzled some in the field.“Attributing all these pathologies to the fact that fathers aren’t there--well, it doesn’t seem that simple to me,” said University of Oklahoma history professor Robert Griswold, author of “Fatherhood in America: A History” (Basic Books, 1993).“If the argument is, is a child better off with two parents? “But lots of these families are in deep trouble before the father leaves.”James A. “Fatherless America” has instantly become a catch phrase. Far from promising a trouble-free voyage, he has begun by making giant waves. We are in uncharted waters.”With his book, his think tank and his powerful arsenal of facts about fatherhood, Blankenhorn has taken the helm as de facto navigator. “No society has ever experienced what we are experiencing.“You know, ‘The bad liberals ruined things,’ or, ‘The hardhearted conservatives did it.’ Or welfare mothers, or immigrants--I don’t like any of it.It seems to me that in our current discourse, this is frequently done in a harsh way that suggests meanness and lack of compassion.”*Yet Blankenhorn himself has drawn criticism along much the same lines.