Beating Down Bill Bennett

Friday, September 30, 2005

The civil rights dogs are once again barking and this time it's at a favorite target of the theirs, Bill Bennett. The supposed racist comment was made when Bennett and a caller to his radio show were chatting about Steven Levitt's popular book, "Freakonomics," which says that the high popularity of abortion after Roe v. Wade resulted in the slaughtering prevention of potential criminals being born, and thus helped reduce the crime rate.

Bennett decided to run with it, and said the following:

It's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could--if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.
Wow, what a whole bunch of nothing to get worked up about! Somehow this is being perceived as racist, because Bennett implied that blacks have a higher crime rate than whites, thereby if we eliminated all future black men we'd have a lower crime rate.

There is nothing bigoted about that statement. If you wanted to be racist you would say that with all things being equal blacks are more likely to commit crime than whites. The truth is that all things aren't equal, ergo blacks are more likely than whites to be born in poorer urban cities where they're more likely to be predisposed to crime. If it were theoretically possible to abort every black fetus then it is true the overall crime rate would decline, because inner-city violence would fall when the 18-24 demographic becomes nonexistent. The Hamptons would hardly feel the effect.

But if you were to put one black and one white together in the same environment, neither would be more likely than the other to become a criminal. Bennett understood this reality but apparently believed everyone else did too and felt he didn't need to labor through the disclaimer.

The fact that he followed through with "That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do" exonerates him from the charge that he wants to suppress the black population, let alone abort it. Conveniently his critics are leaving out that last line when calling him a racist.

Naturally the spineless Bush administration has condemned the remarks, and it's no surprise Press Secretary Scott McClellan quickly distanced the president from Mr. Bennett.