All your children belong to us

Is This the Creepiest Show Promo MSNBC Has Ever Run? asks Mike Riggs on Reason’s Hit & Run. Host Melissa Harris-Perry said:

We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had a private notion of children, your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children.

So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.

Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s we start making better investments.

Hillary Clinton “made this same point more digestible for the public by ladling on warm-fuzzy sauce about a “village” raising a child,” writes Riggs.

Here’s your counterpoint, from 2011, on whether the U.S. is “investing” enough in education. Another half-trillion or so ought to turn things around, I think. No wonder Ron Paul’s getting into home-schooling.

Harris-Perry, a political science professor at Tulane, has a daughter. Or, I guess you could say that a female child with some of Harris-Perry’s genes belongs to the New Orleans collective.

About Joanne


  1. The flip side of the increasing importance of parental choice is a retraction of faith in the institution of public education and its employees.

    Since I think it unlikely that public opinion will reverse itself I’d say Harris-Perry’s honesty in denigrating the role of parents, by extolling the value of state control, is evidence of an increasing sense of desperation among the left’s supporters of public education. Deftness is what you use when time’s on your side and Harris-Perry’s using a hammer.

  2. Ms. Perry needs to stop smoking whatever it is she’s smoking. If she thinks that kids belong to society, then I would suggest she start paying for everyone else’s children herself.

    I suspect after a few days, she’ll change her tune (it’s easy to make stupid statements in the media, quite another to actually back them up).


  3. Engels would be so pleased:
    From his Principles of Communism Question #18:
    “Democracy would be wholly valueless to the proletariat if it were not immediately used as a means for putting through measures directed against private property and ensuring the livelihood of the proletariat. The main measures, emerging as the necessary result of existing relations, are the following:
    …(viii) Education of all children, from the moment they can leave their mother’s care, in national establishments at national cost. Education and production together.”

    Principles of Communism Question #21:
    “What will be the influence of communist society on the family?
    It will transform the relations between the sexes into a purely private matter which concerns only the persons involved and into which society has no occasion to intervene. It can do this since it does away with private property and educates children on a communal basis, and in this way removes the two bases of traditional marriage – the dependence rooted in private property, of the women on the man, and of the children on the parents.”

    And people wonder why words like “Marxist” get thrown about when well-meaning folks want to talk about “communities”….

  4. Stacy in NJ says:

    I wonder if her daughter attends public or private school in NO. I’d bet private. All your children belong to us, except mine who belong to me. Just like a good Socialist.

    • Yeah, communists are that way about private property, too, not just kids. Chavez (Venezuela) and Castro (Cuba) were really good at talking about wealth for the community while squirreling away lots for themselves. A family member works at a very expensive liberal arts college and reports that some professors there openly and rather proudly declare themselves to be Marxists. Who do they think is supporting their comfortable, tenured lives but private-property-owning-bourgeoisie parents? And these parents are foolishly sending their kids off to get a “good education” without realizing that the professors are more than happy to loot from those supportive and hard-working parents the respect their children would ordinarily give them.

  5. Were you going for a meme with your title? If so, it would better be phrased, “All your child are belong to us.”

    Do you seriously not understand the point that Harris-Perry was trying to make, or is an explanation, “I don’t agree with it – I just found it interesting” forthcoming?

    • Sure, we get it. She wants more money put into education. And she spouts communist principles in support of it. I hold those principles in contempt, ergo I hold video spot in contempt.

  6. I was raised in a crazy socialist institution where all members of the group felt they had an obligation to ensure I was raised right. Sure, my parents had last say, but it was still common to say that I belonged to that whole community.

    The institution was called a church, btw.

    • Yeah, you show me the church that doesn’t teach that children belong to their families….
      Sorry, basic ideas about being part of the body of Christ and supporting each other in following Him are very different from what Harris-Perry is saying. And the financial implications are vastly different.

      • How about the church that teaches that children belong to more than just their families? To make the point with less snark, conservatives used to bemoan the fact that we were losing our sense of community and shared responsibility. They decried liberals who were narcissistic individualists with no concern with how they fit into the fabric of a community. Now it seems that conservatives complain that any call for shared responsibility or communitarian support is rank communism. It strikes me as deeply weird. I teach math in a heavily Catholic community and someone suggested the other day that I should contact the local priest when students weren’t performing. The Catholic church invests heavily in their youth and would step in to help address the situation because they know that the youth need to be supported communally by the church. They were right.

        • Roger Sweeny says:

          A young woman gets pregnant in that community. The church says she can’t get an abortion but the woman and her family disagree. Who gets to decide?

          In America, people can choose whether to follow all the teachings of the church they are a part of or even to leave that church entirely. However, they do not have a similar freedom to decide that they don’t like a law or regulation and will not obey it.

        • Stacy in NJ says:

          You do understand the concept of voluntary association, right? Conservatives and Libertarians morn the loss of the kind of social organization that both Hayek and de Tocqueville noted as particularly strong and relevant in the USA – Voluntary church and civic groups that existed outside of government. Those are specifically the organizations that are undermined and marginalized by liberal policies like the ones Harris-Perry supports.

          • “Those are specifically the organizations that are undermined and marginalized by liberal policies like the ones Harris-Perry supports.”

            I went back and read the transcript above. I am struggling to understand where she proposes policies that would break down voluntary associations. I agree her phrasing is weird through the first half, but I thought the closing statement pretty well cleared it up.

            “Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s we start making better investments.”

          • Stacy in NJ says:

            The policy she proposes and liberals like her constantly propose is mo money, mo money, mo money. When they suck resources into the public sphere there aren’t many left for the private which limits the choices of individuals and organizations outside government.

    • Stacy in NJ says:

      Churches are voluntary, taxes aren’t.

  7. Really disappointed in you, Joanne.

    Her point, which you are willfully, intentionally misinterpreting is that children are not private property owned by their parents. Parents cannot do whatever they want with their children because they are people who have rights independent of their parents. Although the care of children has and always will be primarily the responsibility of parents, that does not mean parents have free reign. Melissa Harris-Perry is making the point that society as a whole has an interest in the nurturing and development of all children… that this a societal responsibility, and not one that is solely the parents.

    I have followed your blog since 1998. You used to present reasoned discussion, and in fact, because of your reasonableness, you convinced me to eventually support California Prop 227 to ban most bilingual education and focus on English immersion. You rightly opposed the racists who were pushing the proposition to bash immigrants, and instead focussed on what was best for immigrant children.

    Alas, I have noticed over the past couple of years that your blog has devolved into a meeting place for upper middle class white resentment… at first, I thought it just was a small subset of random commenters… you regularly have “Jim” who is a “racial realist” (aka, unrepentant white supremacist) comment here, as if it is no big deal. And now, you actively cultivate this.

    This is my final time posting here. You lost a reader and former admirer of 15 years.

    I’m sure Stacy and her ilk will be overjoyed. Enjoy your echo chamber Joanne… you must be so proud.

    • Stacy in NJ says:

      *takes his ball and goes home. sniff sniff*

      • I hope he takes his big ol’ straw man home with him. As if any of the regular commenters on here advocate that parents be able to do anything they want with their children. Somehow I’ve missed the activists for pedophile acceptance and abolition of child welfare services….

    • D's Squirrel Food says:

      The comment section is better with you in it, jab. I would prefer to be able to read conversations other than debates over whether the achievement gaps are due to cultural depravity or genetic inferiority.

      • So why do the achievement gaps exist if not culture or genetics? (I believe it is culture)

        • Stacy in NJ says:

          Duh, institutional racism.

          • Unless the gaps favor girls. Then they’re finally doing something right in the institutions.

          • Why do Blacks from other countries do better than American Blacks? Why do Asians and Jews outperform Whites? Why are all of those inncercity schools that are failing Black America run by, and dominated by, Black Americans?

          • Stacy in NJ says:

            gahrie, Sshhhhhh! Your questions are racist. Let me explain: Shut Up!

    • GEORGE LARSON says:

      “society as a whole has an interest in the nurturing and development of all children… that this a societal responsibility, and not one that is solely the parents. ”

      If this is a responsibility of society then why can’t our schools do it? I have heard some conservatives (not on this site) describe our public schools as child abuse after some administrator’s or teacher’s bizarre behavior. That is too extreme for me, but the idea that a bureaucracy can nurture as opposed to educating children is certainly questionable.

      • Richard Aubrey says:

        I expect jab and the folks like Harris perry or whomever that was have a different view of “nurture” than most people. In fact, if you found out what it was, you’d probably not like it very much at all.

    • Elizabeth says:

      jab, I believe race and culture are artificial constructs. That being said, if more people in this country imitated those “upper middle class values” as many asian, african, etc immigrants do, we would have fewer problems and less need for society to step in.

      Regarding this posting, it smacks of paternalism. . In the bad old days before government involved itself in family matters, do you really think that the majority of parents abused/mistreated their children?

      The main reason today for the push for more involvement is that more and more people are not able to get married or stay married to raise children. Couple that with widespread drug abuse among the working class and poor. That lack of self control was pushed by the liberal intelligensia as “freedom”, “do it if it feels good” and “liberating us from repressive religious and bourgeois values”.

      • Richard Aubrey says:

        Elizabeth. The sentence beginning with “The main reason….” is, imo, incorrect. The main reason is power. Control. Influence.
        Your thesis at the end of the graf is right on. See Myron Magnet’s “The Dream and The Nightmare”. Or Dalrymple’s Brit version, View from The Bottom”.

        • Elizabeth says:

          I’ve met many people who are motivated to do something out of a true sense of wanting to help – there are good intenitioned as well as malevolents on both sdes of the spectrum – however, you can’t conquer the disease by just treating the symptoms.

    • “Her point […] is that children are not private property owned by their parents. Parents cannot do whatever they want with their children”

      Can Jab point where in the transcript (which is complete in this post) Harris-Perry makes that point? Harris-Perry talks about _responsibility_ being only on the parents, not control or anything like what Jab claims.

  8. As the commenters at the end of Andrew Sullivan’s post ( note, this conservative misinterpretation of Ms. Harris-Parry’s point is wrong.

    • GEORGE LARSON says:


      I am happy she explained her 31 second video, but in my opinion the video by itself really does not say what is on Andrew Sullivan’s link.

      It could be argued that for a profesional talking head she really missed the target.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      I suppose we are to be comforted by the reactions of commenters. When the state gets more control, they can point out that Sullivan’s commenters were not official and…too late now, chump.

  9. If there are communities that aren’t investing sufficiently in public education, then Harris-Perry should name and shame them. I certainly don’t live in one. My city provides schoolkids who need it with breakfast and lunch and with after-school daycare. We have subsidized and free or nearly-free summer camps, winter camps, recreation programs, athletic programs, aquatic programs, educational programs, library programs, science programs, and teen summer jobs programs.

    Now, my taxes pay for all this, but Harris-Perry would be aghast if I tried to increase my community investment by offering life suggestions to the poor and underprivileged: Pull up your saggy pants. Stop imposing your crappy music on us on the bus. Don’t curse in front of my kids. Read. Stay in school. Get to work on time. Etc.

    I don’t believe Harris-Perry was espousing some sort of vague communism, but I think people got all worked up about her comments because her intent is sadly predictable. “Investing” in kids means that she wants more money for her pet educational programs, but zero input from those of us who will pay for it.

    (And of course a tenured professor and high-profile pundit wants to be part of a “collective,” because she’s already established herself in a position of privilege.)