Last week, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry appeared in a promotional video for the network where she argued that we have to “break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents” and recognize that “kids belong to whole communities.”
The ad was greeted with alarm on the right. Glenn Beck said it seemed “so far beyond what we have ever thought as a nation, it is remarkable,” while Rush Limbaugh noted “the nuclear family has always been under attack by communists, leftists.”
Sarah Palin called the MSNBC ad was “unflippingbelievable.”
First, Harris-Perry responded with a simple tweet:
The verse according to the New International Version of the Bible is: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Harris-Perry elaborated in a blog post, where she said she wants to “double down” on the comments.
“I have no intention of apologizing for saying that our children, all of our children, are part of more than our households,” she wrote, “they are part of our communities and deserve to have the care, attention, resources, respect and opportunities of those communities.”
The television host and Tulane professor continued:
When the flood of vitriolic responses to the ad began, my first reaction was relief. I had spent the entire day grading papers and was relieved that since these children were not my responsibility, I could simply mail the students’ papers to their moms and dads to grade! But of course, that is a ridiculous notion. As a teacher, I have unique responsibilities to the students in my classroom at Tulane University, and I embrace those responsibilities. It is why I love my job.
The article proceeds to give a number of examples few would object to that embody the “collective responsibility” to which she was apparently referring, including volunteering for children’s sports teams or driving a neighbor’s child to school if the parent was injured.
I believe wholeheartedly, and without apology, that we have a collective responsibility to the children of our communities even if we did not conceive and bear them. Of course, parents can and should raise their children with their own values. But they should be able to do so in a community that provides safe places to play, quality food to eat, terrific schools to attend, and economic opportunities to support them. No individual household can do that alone. We have to build that world together.
So those of you who were alarmed by the ad can relax. I have no designs on taking your children…
And so the argument has seemingly gone from, “your kids don’t belong to you, they belong to the collective,” to “the collective has an obligation to help out all the children, but of course they are yours.”
To those who she claims misinterpreted the ad, she scolded: “That is not what I was talking about, and you know it.”