Friday, September 30, 2005

Captain Obvious, Emergency Call on Line 1

So William Bennett, the former Secretary of Education and right-wing "values" author, had the moral clarity to say the following on the radio yesterday:

"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 impossibly ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down."

Some people found that statement a tad...well - excusez moi, quand je cherche pour le mot juste - outrageous.

Bennett defends himself thusly: "I was putting forward a hypothetical proposition. Put that forward. Examined it. And then said about it that it's morally reprehensible. To recommend abortion of an entire group of people in order to lower your crime rate is morally reprehensible. But this is what happens when you argue that the ends can justify the means," he told CNN.

Hey, Dumbass: no one is under the impression that you advocated mass abortions or is saying you didn't say that would be reprehensible.

We're just a little ticked that you said black people are more responsible for crime than other ethnicities.


Anthony said...

So suddenly ethnic cleansing is theoretically acceptable?

Andy said...

Tony: you're missing the point along with Bennett and the liberals who have criticized him but failed to concisely point out where he went wrong. It's not about the abortion issue. It's about pinning the blame for crime on African-Americans.

Esther said...

Bennett is kind of an odd fellow. Listen to him speak and he's a polite, almost parody of himself 40 years ago. But he's definitely got an odd, difficult and rather un-sensitive side.

I do not concur with him, but it is true that there are more African American men in prison than any other group of people and it's not because all police are racists. I had to do debates on criminal justice and studies have shown . . . Anyway, I don't know why anyone would say a thing like that. There seems to be no reason for talking like Bennett did.

Esther said...

Not only that, but if he wants to go there, Bennett could have just said that if we killed the entire human race we'd have less crime. It would have made more sense and been a lot less offensive than isolating one group.

Honestly, I hate it when conservative spokespeople come out with ideas like that. It makes us all look like bigots.

Andy said...

Well, I think the point that he's semi-close to is that that violent criminals are disproportionately from impoverished communities, which are disproportionately non-white populations. And why is the conservative solution always about killing something? Pardon me for sounding like a bleeding-heart liberal, but if you wanted to reduce crime, maybe you should fix the public education in inner cities and rural areas and make a college education affordable.

Here's an idea: if you want to cut down on white-collar crime, abort Republican babies. (Um, for the record I'm kidding, but that's about the sense of what Bennett claimed would have a viable impact, even if it were "morally reprehensible."

Steve said...

Secretary Bennett's comments were wrong. At the same time are you going to criticize Harry Bellafonte's comments about Condi Rice or Colin Powell? Is one stereotypical, racist view better than another?

I am not defending Bennett. Secretary Bennett has been one of these loudmouths in the conservative cause that does more damage than good. However, until we can get past calling names on both sides, the issues that create the porverty and social ills in the inner-city will never be fixed.

Matthew said...


I'm also quite sick of name calling and vitriolic ad hominem attacks. Apparently, quite a few folks in the media are doing that right now. However, I don't think Andy's post really falls into that category. Perhaps you were referencing the other sources and not this blog in specific?

Michigan-matt said...

Let's see, let's play the tag-game the liberal MSM might play with YOUR comment Andy... pretend I'm a CNN newsreader, I'd say to the camera with mock chagrin

"Noted blogsphere pundit and social commentator Andy offered that America should adopt a policy of selective abortion for white, GOP and GOP leaning families. It's unclear whether Andy meant that policy should be retoactive to the 2000 elections."

"Andy, a gay self-proclaimed radical from a large Democrat city offered the policy suggestion in front of thousands of readers."

"Rev Jesse Jackson noted that there's nothing humorous about racially-based abortions and called on Americans and bloggers to repudiate Andy."

"Leaders from NOW offered that they were disheartened to hear Andy cheapen the value in a woman's right to choose by linking it to a wild scheme to gain a Democrat majority in the US."

"In Andy's defense, he did half-heartedly recede from the radical statement by suggesting he was trying to be humorous."

See how the game is played? There are lots of variations... you did it with Bennett's comments.

Michigan-Matt said...

And Andy, shame on you for saying the "conservative solution" for everything is to kill it.

Good God, man, restrain yourself in public speech. You can do a whole lot better in persuading thought if you DON'T resort to the WeScream4HowieDean School of Public Thought.

Julia said...

This Bill Bennett flap is very revealing. I think he was somehow mindlessly giving voice to the shadow side of the conservative anti-abortion movement. One thing that conservative pro-lifers don't relish contemplating is who the babies are that they are trying to rescue -- or perhaps I should say WHOSE the babies are. Black women have abortions at about three times the rate of white women; the legalization of abortion has decimated two generations of African Americans, therebey accomplishing what conservative policy couldn't.

If you save a child who was at risk of being aborted, as I have done myself, and you subscribe to the usual conservative ideology of personal responsibility, slashing of social services, leaving the poor to twist in the wind, etc., how do you reconcile the two conflicting systems? If you believe in the sanctity of human life, do you make exceptions for certain kinds of lives? Bill Bennett seems to be devaluing the lives of African Americans. How different is that from image of the right-to-die people devaluing the lives of the profoundly disabled in the Terri Schiavo case? Bill Bennett is a Catholic to boot: how about some consistency, Bill?

Incidentally, the baby I saved is the child of an illegal immigrant minority woman; the baby is American, and eligible for social sevices, but the mother works under the table and illegally. If you are against abortion, if you are, to take it a step further, "pro-life," you have to be willing to take care of the most fragile and at-risk lives, even it means violating the law, because the natural law of the right to life has got to trump a country's immigration laws, no? Therefore, I think being pro-life goes directly against conservative ideology, which would prefer not to acknowledge that such in-need and at-risk lives exist. Bill Bennett, in his usual hubristic arrogance (that's an ad hominem attack), was privileging his flawed conservative ideology over the sanctity of human life. My guess is that, if you scratched the surface of a lot of "pro-life" conservatives, you'd find the same thing.

Andy said...

No, Michigan-Matt, you're incorrect. I did not "retract" my comment by saying I was kidding. I said I was kidding unless anyone was dumb enough to take me seriously. The POINT was that suggesting that aborting black babies -- EVEN IF YOU QUALIFY IT AS MORALLY REPREHENSIBLE -- makes as much sense as what I suggested. Again, everyone keeps missing the point of what he REALLY said: that black people are disproportionately responsible for crime so it would be nice if we could abort them but it's morally reprehensible so we can't.

Andy said...

I will apologize for my off-the-cuff comment that the conservative solution to everything is to kill it. Such commentary falls in the same vein as Karl Rove's comments that that liberals wanted to offer terrorists therapy.

Steve said...

Do we battle over statistics? Is our preception that African-Americans commit more crime because that is what we see on television or the evening news? What is the reality?

Why do people turn to crime? I assume that there is a desparation. You watch the pictures from Katrina, those folks were desperate. A white guy can be as desperate as any minority. I would assume that this might be your point Andy.

Andy said...

Well, here's the way I look at it. If we want to have a long-term crime-reduction strategy (as opposed to say, increased police presence for short-term), then one of the issues that comes up is, "What causes crime?"

It's not a simple answer, and there's no "one" cause. There is, clearly, a correlation between crime and poverty and though I've just written about why correlation is not indicative of cause, I think poverty reduction would have a positive effect on the crime rate. One of the things I think we could do is improve our broken education system that prevents children from disadvantaged backgrounds from getting the education necessary to make them viable and competitive in the mainstream workforce.

Bill Bennett seems to think the problem stems from race. Hopefully we can all agree he's on the wrong track, even if we don't agree that my idea is the best one.

Esther said...

I think I see what you mean, Andy. If another group of people (say Caucasions) were just as underprivileged and lived in the same conditions as many African Americans, then Bennett might have said something slightly different. In essence, it is not the race that causes people to committ crimes (as implied by Bennett). In part at least, it is the condtion those people are left in. And I agree, we are all equal in human nature and that which leads one person toward crime could certainly lead another to the same place if they were in the first person's shoes.

Education, motivation and opportunity to better the environment in which said people find themselves would certainly help. Personally, I do not think those should come from the government because it's never been a very motivating thing. I think that people should take more community responsibility and try to help other people instead of making statements as stupid and "morally reprehensible" as Secretary Bennett's.

Andy said...

I don't think anyone's really expecting the government to motivate them, but there are some things -- like provide a world-class public education system -- that the federal government, and only the federal government, is uniquely poised to do. There are other things, too...such as when disaster strikes as it did in Katrina, the government should not be taking already poor people who've lost everything and waiving the prevailing wage requirement for reconstruction jobs. That benefits only the rich people who own the company, not the people desperate for help and willing to work for it. It perpetuates the problem.

little-cicero said...

To the idea that poverty leads to crime, I would say that this is not completely true. Values are moreso the problem here. We should aknowledge that it is the values of a culture such as the gangster rap culture of so many black Americans that leads them to crime. Suburbanites in my community often travel down a similar road, because they fall into that values system, not for lack of money, but for lack of decency. The other issues are: The schools have to be less "ghettoized and dumbed up", which is what Bennett has done for much of his career, and drug dealers must be punished, which is what he has also done, but, as Bennett has done more recently is to openly discuss the issues of self-degradation as a result of lack of values among many African Americans. We accomplish NOTHING by stifling such discussion, which is what you do by simply calling him a bigot.

Andy said...

Poverty is not the sole cause of crime, no, but no one ever said it was. It has, however, been quite emphatically demonstrated that there is more of a correlation between poverty and crime than between race and crime. I think Bennett's comments were utterly reprehensible.

I also find it perverse for a bunch of white men -- like myself and Bennett, and possibly you, I don't know you -- to sit around discussing what the black community ought to do about itself.

The data also shows that Americans who talk most about "values" -- that being the red staters -- are the ones with disproportionately high rates of crime and other indicators of widespread social problems.

None of this changes the fact that Bennett publicly said, "Gee, it would be nice if we could abort black babies in order to reduce crime, but abortion is morally wrong so unfortunately we can't." That is what he said, if not in so many words. This kind of thinking is absolutely beneath discussion.

little-cicero said...

You know he didn't say that in the least. The only reprehensible aspect, as you mentioned on the post, is that he connected race and crime in saying this. It's called reality! Whether it is between race and crime or poverty and crime that the relation is found, the statistics tell us that more blacks commit crimes than whites. It may be that the connection goes: Blacks are poorer; Poverty causes crime; Blacks commit more crime, but irregardless, it is true that if you reduce the population that causes more crime, you reduce crime. No one's condoning it, but it's true. Esther was getting there, but she's afraid of being called a bigot for citing the sad reality that is a result of the races generations-old victimhood status and mentality. There are a lot of Black people I would mourn the loss of if this happened, and would be horrified if this occured. Bennet feels the same way...he was using another person's arguement to shoot down a caller's argument.

Anonymous said...

Face it blacks cause more crime and it's not due to poverty. African-americans have a higher annual income then do blacks anywhere in the world. Those blacks that have less money do so usually because they have multiple kids out of wedlock, use drugs a lot or drop out of school. Do these things and you'll be far more likely to end up poor and on welfare. Crime is cause by a lack of morals. People in the 1930's during the great depression were dirt poor and unlike today, had no welfare or gun control, yet crime was very low. Blacks commit far more crime then anyone in ANY country they are in, such as England or Canada too. They have no one to blame but themselves.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think we should just eliminate 1 out of every 2 people, without prejudice. This would solve many problems.

And stop disparaging black people. The lowlife criminals responsible for most crime in the ghettos should rightly be referred to as niggers, as in the following Chris Rock quote: "I love black people, but the niggers got to go."