A few years ago, when Hillary Clinton was attacked as anti-Semitic, I wrote a piece for The Wall Street Journal defending her against the charge. As a Jew, an author of a book on anti-Semitism and a conservative talk show host, I had credibility to do so.
It is time now for people with integrity on the Left -- and liberal opinion pages -- to show their integrity and defend Bill Bennett against the libel of being a racist who advocated the abortion of all black babies.
For make no mistake: This is as pure a character issue as one can imagine. Bill Bennett is not a racist and said nothing that even remotely came close to advocating the abortion of all black babies. This is the dividing line between the decent and the indecent on the Left. The indecent make these charges; the decent will defend him against them. It's as simple as that.
What happened is easy to summarize. In response to a caller who said that America "lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30 years," Bennett made the point that one cannot argue against abortion by pointing out anything theoretically positive that could come from either allowing or outlawing abortion. For example, he went on to say, "You could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." And he immediately added, for the sake of those who might distort his meaning, that aborting all black babies would be "impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible."
But talk show host Ed Schultz, whose syndicated radio show is aired on liberal Air America, heard these remarks. He alerted fellow leftist David Brock, who then put the transcript of the Bennett dialogue on his website.
The Left and the world's news media picked up the dialogue and then announced that Bill Bennett had advocated the abortion of all black babies.
This lie is as intentional as it is complete. Sometimes lies contain a kernel of truth; this one has none. In fact, the irony is that if Bennett's social policies were followed, no black babies would ever have been aborted; they are aborted in great numbers thanks to left-wing social policies.
On his show, Ed Schultz said the following:
"Racism is not a virtue; and this is the guy who wrote the book on virtues!"
"The Christian right in this country considers abortion murder; this is not about abortion -- this is about extermination."
" . . . He's out there advocating the murder of all black babies so that we can bring down crime."
And finally, Schultz compared how Bennett views blacks to the way Nazis viewed Jews.
Leaders of the Democratic Party, such as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, have demanded Bennett apologize, and some demanded that the Salem Radio Network fire him. (In the interest of full disclosure, Salem also syndicates my national radio show.) Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said, "I'm not even going to comment on something that disgusting." And Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, called Bennett's comments "reprehensible and racist," and announced he would introduce a resolution in the Senate condemning the comments.
The president of the NAACP declared: "In 2005, there is no place for the kind of racist statement made by Bennett."
Huffington Post blogger Bob Cesca wrote: "What he seemed to imply was that all black babies will one day grow up to become criminals."
Because of the controversy, Bennett postponed his scheduled speech at the University of Cincinnati. The university's College Democrats president told the Cincinnati Enquirer: "I think it's horrible to say that an entire race of people shouldn't have been born."
Newsday columnist Ellis Henican wrote that Bennett "is quickly getting famous for a bold new approach to cutting crime. Abort the black babies!"
The lead sentences in the Austin American-Statesman editorial on the issue read: "Aborting black children is an effective way to reduce the crime rate. We're not surprised that kind of racist drivel is being peddled over the public airways, but we are stunned by who is doing the peddling: William Bennett."
Taking their cues from the American left, the world's news media now reports the Bennett libel as news.
For example, The Hindu, India's national newspaper, reports that "United States President George W. Bush has distanced himself from comments made by a leading Republican crusader on moral values who declared that one way to reduce the crime rate in the U.S. would be to 'abort black babies.'"
And the headline in the British newspaper The Guardian read: "Abort all black babies and cut crime, says Republican."
Now you know how the combination of incompetence, leftism and sensationalism drives the world's news media.
Here is a chance to find out if your liberal brother-in-law is a leftist without integrity or simply a decent guy with different values. Just ask him, "Will you condemn the libel of Bill Bennett?"
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”