Saturday, October 01, 2005

My take on the Bill Bennett flap

My friend Hammer posted a defense of Bill Bennett’s now infamous statements, to which I took exception, in the form of a comment. I wrote:

I think that your defense of Bennett is a little hasty. It seems like an “us against them” stance…i.e. he’s on my team, therefore I must defend him. Allow me to explain.

Bennett said: 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.

You wrote: These quotes demonstrate Bill’s own position – that such attempts to connect abortion to GNP or crime are impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible, and out in left field.

With all due respect, that’s not what he said. According Dr. Bennett, the “thing to do” which he described as “impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible” was abortion (in this particular case, he’s condemning mass infanticide). Such condemnation has consistently been his position, which is fine. But look closely at what he said: “I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime…” and “…but your crime rate would go down.” Bennett was clearly linking blacks—as a racial group—to crime. As Rush would say: ”words means things”.

You agreed with him: Never mind that it is true (because aborting 100% of any higher crime group will reduce crime because the crime rate is highest in the black community, which has the highest percentage of urban and poor members – the true indicators of likelihood of crime)

I don’t dispute the statistical probabilities, and yes, poverty is perhaps the leading indicator of criminal behavior, but you, Bennett and others seem to presume that potential, unborn black babies are predestined to be criminals, or at least have a higher “likelihood” of crime. Following that logic, society would be better served by simply executing all poor adult males of every race (as males commit the vast majority of violent crime, regardless of race). This too would be grossly immoral, but at least some of the ones executed would presumably be ‘guilty’ of a capital crime, as opposed to, say, innocent black fetuses that have yet to draw their first breath. My point is that blanket statements based upon race are dangerously close to racism: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

Look, the fact is that we’re dealing here with correlation, not causation. So why not suggest that Dr. Bennett emulate Christ, by judging individual hearts and minds, instead of making gross generalizations that stink of what Bush calls “the soft bigotry of low expectations”? Also, what’s with the quick defense of foolish and inappropriate statements, instead of simply acknowledging their inappropriateness? In my view, those types of statements ought not to ever be defended…no matter who has made them.

Then again, Matthew Yglesias says: “Contra Harry Reid, Bennett has nothing to apologize for.” But, I’m of the opinion that collectivist-liberals are—at their core—at least mildly racist, inasmuch as ‘they’ presuppose that “minorities” cannot survive without any number of government entitlements. But...I could be wrong.