TCS Daily

Bill Bennett's Reality-Based Defenders

By Nick Schulz - September 30, 2005 12:00 AM

Former Drug Czar and Secretary of Education Bill Bennett's comments over skin color, crime and abortion have lots of folks howling, from Nancy Pelosi to Howard Dean to the NAACP to Ted Kennedy to the White House (go figure). What prompted this bipartisan outrage?

Here's the incendiary remark that he made on his popular radio program:

        "...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."

Bennett has pointed out, correctly, that his remarks have been taken out of context. Even liberal commentators like Matt Yglesias and Brad DeLong feel the context of the remarks is mitigating and Bennett has no reason to apologize for them.

But let's forget about the context for a minute. Context can be so... so... oh, well, it can take all the fun out of it. So let's just focus on what Bennett said, totally out of context.

DeLong and Yglesias and are sufficiently reality-based enough to know that blacks commit a disproportionate share of violent crimes in the United States. This is not news. It's not even a controversial proposition. Given that fact, it's not a monumentally difficult conceptual leap to surmise that if you aborted every black child in the country from here on out (a hideousness that no one is advocating), the crime rate would drop.

Without getting into the tricky context of Bennett's remarks -- that doing so would be morally reprehensible, etc. -- what more is there to say about it? That it isn't true? No one, as of this writing, has argued that.

Bill Clinton claimed while he was president that he wanted to have a "national conversation on race." Perhaps he was being sincere. But it's plain from recent events that hardly anyone else in this country really, truly wants to have a "conversation" on this topic. If the mindless, knee-jerk reaction to Bennett's remarks -- including from places like the White House -- is any indicator, no one has any interest in an honest discussion of race.

Perhaps it's nothing new, but we live in a time where uncomfortable truths -- even challenging questions -- are to be shouted down and, if possible, driven from the public square. Harvard University's Larry Summers discovered this recently. Now Bill Bennett is on the receiving end of this same idiotarian nonsense. America is the worse for it. Thank goodness some liberals were honest enough to defend him. Let's hope others see fit to do the same.


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