Monday, October 03, 2005


William Bennett has managed to stir up a little firestorm:

BENNETT: All right, well, I mean, I just don't know. I would not argue for the pro-life position based on this, because you don't know. I mean, it cuts both -- you know, one of the arguments in this book Freakonomics that they make is that the declining crime rate, you know, they deal with this hypothesis, that one of the reasons crime is down is that abortion is up. Well --
CALLER: Well, I don't think that statistic is accurate.
BENNETT: Well, I don't think it is either, I don't think it is either, because first of all, there is just too much that you don't know. But I do know that 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.

Dumb thing to say. Some people have been arguing it's true, which by definition it is - abort every single baby of any ethnic group and crime will go down. Doesn't mean it still wasn't a dumb thing to say. Real dumb.

But from all the blogs I've seen, they've all said that Bennett isn't a racist, and I can believe that. I also believe he, like everyone, does have some racial bias out there, and that may have led him into saying this spur of the moment comment. He's even admitted that the stories of crimes in New Orleans after Katrina (of course, now many of them are being shown to be false or exaggerated - our local paper today ran a story that said there has been no confirmation of shootings at rescue aircraft) was on his mind when he said this:

BENNETT (audio clip): Stories about looting and shooting and gangs and roving gangs and so on. ... I'm sorry if people are hurt, I really am. But we can't say this is an area of American public policy that we're not allowed to talk about race and crime.

(I do note that on the one hand some defenders say it wasn't racial, it was just a comment, but now Bennett specifically mentions race and crime...)

Anyway. Many of the blogs I read are not fans of Bennett's, and you can count me an anti-fan as well. I think he's a moralistic self-righteous wannabe Puritan (unless it's a social problem he actually likes, such as gambling). But you can make a stupid, racial comment and not BE a racist in toto. I fully support calling him out on a stupid statement, but it's a little much to call him a racist.

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