Jonah Goldberg

Funny, I thought the bedrock faith of pro-abortion liberals is that fetuses aren't babies. Isn't it interesting how this lynchpin of liberal morality evaporates the moment an opportunity to call Bennett a racist presents itself? Talk about utilitarianism.

Many Bennett stalwarts have spent a lot of time defending him on the grounds that what he said is actually true. Since black crime rates are disproportionately high, they reason, eliminating the next generation - as horrific as that would be - would reduce the overall rate. In response, some liberals have put on their Karnak the Magnificent hats and tried to rebut this by trying to predict what would really happen under the Bennett hypothesis. Tax rolls would go down, schools would close, etc., etc.

All of this is a grand exercise in futility and absurdity. Of course, no one knows what the real repercussions would be if you aborted every black baby in America. One repercussion would probably be civil war or revolution, as nearly the entire black population of the United States, along with large majorities of white pro-lifers and pro-choicers, righteously and legitimately took up arms to prevent the government from committing genocide. And, I should add, one of the guys shouting "Lock and load!" would undoubtedly be Bennett himself.

Which raises the point missed by so many Bennett detractors, often deliberately. His argument wasn't about race at all. His point was to discourage even pro-lifers from demeaning the cause by making abortion into an acceptable governmental tool for social policy.

Bennett was sincere when he said that aborting all black babies simply to lower the crime rate would be "ridiculous, and morally reprehensible." He could have just as easily said to the caller: "Hey, look, we could save a lot of money on skyrocketing education costs if only we aborted the mentally impaired and learning disabled. But you know what? Ends cannot justify the means of murdering the unborn." It would be silly to waste a lot of time trying to rebut him by saying, "Well, actually you wouldn't save that much money."

The former philosophy professor picked a hypothetical that he thought would make the horror of such utilitarianism obvious to everybody. Murder a whole generation just to lower the crime rate? Disgusting!

Bennett's real mistake was in thinking people would be mature enough to get it.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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