Since it’s Monday and I am tackling a week of single parenting head-on, I have decided to post on a very controversial subject. Last week Bill Bennett, former Secretary of Education and author of the Book fo Virtues, made some comments on his radio talkshow that have prompted a firestorm of criticism from the left, from Democrats in congress, and even from the White House.
A caller asked the question that if abortion had been illegal for the past 30 years would there be enough more people in our country to fully fund social security. Bennett mentioned the theory put forth by the authors of the book Freakonomics (good book) that as the abortion rate has risen the rate of crime has dropped. Bennett said, “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.”
Liberal bloggers were the first to take this comment completely out of context and call Bennett out as a racist pig for advocating aborting the black race to lower crime. Then the media took the one line and ran with it. Then the politicians weighed in, largely uninformed as usual. Get the text of the whole conversation here. Bennett is not, never was, and never would be, advocating abortion of anyone, let alone an entire race. Duh. He’s saying that you shouldn’t use statistical social arguments to talk about abortion, because it’s a MORAL issue. Either it’s right or it’s wrong. Either it’s a clump of cells or it’s murder. That is the only argument that matters.
I do, however, think he misstepped when he made the connection between crime and blacks. On it’s face, it is true that there is more crime among blacks than whites. But as the Freakonomics guys point on in their blog, this has more to do with socio-economic factors than race. And I do believe it may also be partially due to racial profiling. It’s the chicken and the egg, do cops arrest more blacks because blacks commit more crimes or do they just think blacks commit more crimes because more blacks are arrested? A self-fulfilling prophesy, in a way. Anyhow I do think Bennett was wrong to make that connection, use that example. I don’t know if he’s a racist but he’s showing us that one particular racial stereotype is at the forefront of his thinking. And that should be cause for some self-examination and humility.