Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Bill Bennett by the Numbers

Bill Bennett's thesis: Racist? Maybe. Wrong? Absolutely.
by DeWayne Wickham

I'm not going to call former secretary of Education Bill Bennett a racist for what he said about how the nation's crime rate could be reduced by aborting black babies — but if others want to do so, I understand.

During a recent broadcast of his radio show, Bennett reacted to the suggestion by the authors of the book Freakonomics that an increase in abortions has helped reduce this country's crime rate with a race-tinged barb. While saying that he didn't know whether that morbid thesis was correct, Bennett added: "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."

And then he quickly followed up with this not-so-artful dodge: "That would be an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down."

The reaction to Bennett's comments was quick in coming. Both the NAACP and President Bush's spokesman criticized him. Bennett says his words have been taken out of context by those who decry what he said. "It was an argument absurdum," he said on a subsequent broadcast of his radio show Morning in America. The same case for reducing crime could be made by aborting all kids born to single parents, all males or the entire population, Bennett pointed out.

I'll grant him that. But the fact is he didn't use any of those examples. He talked, hypothetically, about aborting all black babies as a way of cutting the crime rate. While he hasn't said as much, I suspect Bennett did so because he knows that blacks make up a disproportionately high percentage of the inmates in our jails and prisons.

Behind the numbers

Of the men and women behind bars last year, 910,200 were black; 777,500 were white and 395,400 were Hispanic, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. To the casual observer — and anyone who is looking for some data to back up racist views — this might suggest that Bennett used an apt example.

Given these numbers, aborting all black babies, however "morally reprehensible" to suggest, could bring about the biggest reduction in the number of crimes that are committed in this country, right?

I don't think so.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics' figures represent only those who were jailed for a crime. But according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, more than twice as many whites as blacks (6.7 million to 2.6 million) were arrested in 2003 for committing a crime. Whites made up 70.6% of all people arrested that year — and 60.5% of those arrested for violent crime. Blacks totaled 27.0% of all arrests and accounted for 37.2% of the people arrested for committing a violent crime.

Unequal justice

And 2003 was no fluke.

A check of the arrest statistics gathered by the FBI from 1999 through 2003 shows that substantially, more whites than blacks were arrested in each of those years. Why does the black inmate population in jails and prisons exceed that of whites when so many more whites are arrested?

I don't think it's a leap of faith to conclude that the scales of justice are out of balance.

Maybe Bennett and others who view blacks as a criminal class are blinded by their myopia. Maybe they just never bothered to compare the government's data on who gets arrested in the country with who ends up behind bars.

Maybe if Bennett examined this disparity, he might clamor for some reforms in the way juries are selected, poor suspects are defended and how prosecutors use their discretionary power to dispose of cases.

"We are not going to back down from our views, and I'm not going to apologize," a combative Bennett said last week on his radio show as pressure mounted for him to do just that.

At the very least, Bennett ought to acknowledge that the FBI data suggest that he could have come up with a better "absurdum."

DeWayne Wickham writes weekly for USA TODAY.

So we're discussing what Bill Bennett said and people are, you know,
through their various stages of shock and outrage, whatever it is, and
people are, I'm sure, having their own thoughts about this. The thing that
amazes me is, we all get caught up in words and what people say and get
righteously indignant. "How dare that person say that! Who do you think they
are?" Of course, it's all within these confines of political correctness.
Okay. So Bennett is having a theoretical, philosophical discussion with a
caller about abortion, and the caller is making the point that, "Hey, you
know, if all these kids that have been aborted in the last 30 years had not
been and had been born, a good number of them would have become productive
members of society. They would have become taxpayers. We would have had that
much more money in the federal treasury and we might be not having a Social
Security problem or anything else," and Bennett said, you know, you can go
so many ways on that and it gets tricky. You can talk if you abort here, if
you don't abort there, but that's not the way to talk about abortion. We've
got to talk about it on the issue of morality. It's life. It's wrong to
abort innocent life, pure and simple.

He's just following the lead of his caller and in the midst of his answer
to the caller, he said, "Well, you know, it's true, if you aborted every
black baby, you'd reduce the crime rate." He said, "That would be crazy,
it's reprehensible, morally indefensible. It's silly." You don't go there.
There's shock and outrage. "How dare he say that? How dare he say it?" Who
cares what anybody says? It's only political correctness that's gotten into
this place. What about those who are doing that, folks? What about those who
are doing it? Is talking about abortion, regardless what's said about it,
worse than the act itself? Where's the equal condemnation here? How in the
world are we going to sit around and get all worked up and bent out of sorts
over words, when abortion is happening to the tune of 1.3 million a year and
has been for 30 years? Planned Parenthood? Many of you think it's a grand
organization, very worthwhile, doing great work. Margaret Sanger, founder of
Planned Parenthood, called for the sterilization of "genetically inferior
races" in 1939. Who was she talking about? You don't have to ask. I'll tell
you. In 1939, she organized the Negro Project, and wrote, "The poorer areas,
particularly in the South, are producing alarmingly more than their share of
future generations," hence, she called for the sterilization of "genetically
inferior races." Margaret Sanger was the founder of the National Birth
Control League, now known as Planned Parenthood.

She was an advocate of eugenics, improving human population by control of
hereditary factors in reproduction. There was a big eugenics movement in
this country back in this era, in the '30s and they wanted to pick who could
"mate." They wanted to determine who could have children and who couldn't,
and it was based on IQ and a number of other things. They didn't want to
mess around with all these inferior races and inferior groups and inferior
intellects mass producing out there and creating a bunch of idiots that were
going to live off the federal dime or whatever. Now, you can't even say this
about Margaret Sanger anymore. Planned Parenthood says, "You are
misrepresenting what our founders said!" No, I'm not. Take a look at it.
Now, I'm not saying that the Planned Parenthood movement today is a carbon
copy of Margaret Sanger's ideas, but we do know that Planned Parenthood's
primary objective in life is to abort as many babies as possible regardless
of the color. Now, you tell me, folks, where is the sense here in getting
all upset over the words uttered by somebody -- when they're taken out of
context when you first hear about them; hat's the only way you about them
and they're taken out of context -- you get all upset. "I can't believe
anybody would say that." Well, I frankly can't believe anybody, like a
doctor in Arkansas, would actually ask black evacuees from Hurricane Katrina
to come to his office for abortions. Where is our sense of proportion here?
Like I say, I'm through going on the defensive with these bunch of people
who claim to be superior and morally and intellectually above everybody
else. They're the elites?
Man Howdy, you really are a nut job. I really think you out to take a step back and acknowlege what Bill Bennett said.

Nobody here is going to agree with your "pro-life" bullshit. I don't give a fuck what your personal beliefs are about abortion. This is about racism, not abortion. You're like that stupid self absorbed asshole at a dinner party who doesn't get the fact that the subject he's talking about doesn't interest anybody but him.

You haven't said one fucking word about Bill Bennett being a racist. All you want to do is rant about abortion. Why don't you give us your thoughts on the death penalty? Or maybe your thoughts on the war in Iraq? How about all those deaths? You weep for a collection of cells that may or may not have ever become an actual human being, and ignore the death and destruction that happens to real people every day.

Go fuck yourself Howdy.
Oh yeah, and Howdy, here's an idea... if you're going to post comments to our blog, how about commenting on the article? You stupid fuck.
I would have to agree with the Punisher on this one....

Howdy....Fuck off, dude...

Or come back after you get back on your meds.....
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