"You could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." Had Bill Bennett advanced this as a suggestion worthy of discussion, he would deserve the Category 5 hurricane of abuse he has endured. But, reading his words in context, Bennett was not only not doing this, he was doing the precise opposite, holding up this noxious notion as "morally reprehensible."
How did this social-cultural firestorm come about?
A caller to Bennett’s radio show had argued that had there not been 45 million abortions since Roe v. Wade, there might be enough young workers today to prevent Social Security from heading for insolvency.
Bennett cautioned his caller against relying on economic arguments to settle moral issues. Noting that the bestseller Freakonomics tied legalized abortion to the drop in the number of young males and falling crime, Bennett, in rebuttal, tossed out this:
If you wanted to reduce crime, you could — if that were your sole purpose — you could abort every black baby in this country, and our crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down.
Can anyone read these remarks in full and say honestly, yes, Bill Bennett was proposing racial genocide, through forced abortions on black women, to cut the crime rate?
That is absurd. Any careful reader of Bennett’s remarks knows he was demonstrating how the monomaniacal pursuit of a good end can lead, if we blind ourselves to the base immorality of the means used, to a morally horrendous result.
Of more interest is the lynch-mob reaction to Bennett’s remarks. Rep. Melvin Watt, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, declared:
These kinds of outrageous comments will continue unless there are economic consequences to those who make them. I therefore call on all radio station owners who carry Bill Bennett’s show to immediately terminate the show, and if they fail to do so, I call on his sponsors and advertisers to withdraw their advertising dollars.
In short, Bennett should be denied a forum, censored.
Republican National Chairman Ken Mehlman piled on, denouncing Bennett’s remarks as "regrettable" and "inappropriate," and White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan drove the knife in: "The president believes the (Bennett) comments were not appropriate."
Mehlman and McClellan are not the sort of guys you want to rely on to bust you out of a Basra jail when the boys from the Sadr Brigade are about to start carving you up. But a valid question has arisen: Why, to make his teaching point, did Bennett connect African-Americans and high crime?
Bennett says the issue has arisen in the wake of Katrina, where not only were the black poor the most visible victims, they appear to have been the great majority of victimizers, shooters, looters and rapists preying on the unfortunate.
The "whole issue of crime and race" has been on people’s minds since New Orleans, The Washington Post quotes Bennett as saying. And, he added, it is aired frequently in academic settings. No big deal.
Al Sharpton disagrees. Calling Bennett’s remarks "blatantly racist," Sharpton accused Bennett of having "stated that as a fact that if you did this, it would in fact lower the crime rate, which clearly is him making crime and blacks synonymous." Other leaders accused Bennett of reinforcing a stereotype of African-Americans being responsible for a disproportionate share of crime.
Yet, according to The Washington Times, the stereotype is rooted in truth. The Times concludes its Bennett article with this stark paragraph:
A study last year by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics said that about 44 percent of state and federal prisoners in 2003 were black, 35 percent were white, and 19 percent were Hispanic, and 2 percent were of other races.
Now, since the white population is six times the black population in America, but blacks outnumber whites in prison five-to-four, algebra tells us violent crime in black America is seven times as great as in the white community.
Should Bennett be silenced or censored for raising this? Or should Sharpton & Co. be called on to address such discrepancies in crime rates, half a century since the civil rights revolution?
As for abortions, according to Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy, one in three today are performed on black women, 413,000 in 2002 alone. Thus, more than 1 percent of America’s entire black population is summarily put to death each year, before these unborn children ever see the light of day.
What did the Klan do to Black America as horrible as this?