"I do know that it's true," said former secretary of education and drug czar William Bennett, "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. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky."
Bennett, who hosts a radio show, was responding to a caller's suggestion. The caller argued that but for the loss of life through abortion, Social Security would be more solvent, with more workers contributing to the system. Bennett rejected that end-to-the-means argument, and offered the black abortion hypothetical as an equally silly end-justifies-the-means argument.
But, oh, the fit hit the shan. MSNBC struck quickly. The network ran a "tease": Bill Bennett (audio) "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." MSNBC correspondent: "Bennett's bombshell comments. The former education secretary is now feeling the heat this morning, from remarks he made on his radio show about African-Americans and abortion." MSNBC also ran a "crawler" at the bottom of the screen, providing a phone number for viewers to call and respond to the question, "Is Bennett's comment reprehensible?"
Before the commercial break, MSNBC left out a vital part of Bennett's statement, which called his abortion hypothetical "morally reprehensible." Nor did MSNBC inform the viewers of Bennett's qualifying statement, even after coming back from their break!
The White House said Bennett's remarks "were not appropriate." Fox's Juan Williams said Bennett's remark " . . . really speaks to a deeply racist mindset." CNN's Jeff Greenfield somberly called Bennett's comments "inartful." Inartful?
How does one artfully say that out of a small percentage of America's population -- 13 percent -- blacks account for 37.2 percent of all those arrested for violent crimes, 54.4 percent of all robbery arrestees, and are the known offenders in 51.3 percent of all murders? The murder rate in the city of New Orleans stands at over 7.5 times the national average, and authorities convict only one in four arrested for homicide.
Speaking of "inartful," back in 1993, a noted civil rights leader made the following comment: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." The speaker? Jesse Jackson.
Despite calls to do so, Bennett, as of this writing, refuses to apologize. Maybe Bennett awaits an apology from Al Gore's former campaign manager, Donna Brazile, who talked about the importance of defeating the Republicans: "White boys," she said, has nothing to do with "gender or race, it's an attitude. A white boy attitude is 'I must exclude, denigrate, and leave behind.' They don't see it or think about it. It's a culture."
Or maybe Bennett awaits an apology from Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., who, speaking about the 1994 Republican Congress, said, "It's not 'spic' or 'nigger' any more. They say 'let's cut taxes.'"
Or maybe Bennett anticipates an apology from Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, who told the Congressional Black Caucus: "Do you think the Republican National Committee could get this many people of color in a single room? Only if they had the hotel staff in here."
Or maybe he expects an apology from NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, who said in July 2001, "[Bush] has selected nominees from the Taliban wing of American politics, appeased the wretched appetites of the extreme right wing, and chosen Cabinet officials whose devotion to the Confederacy is nearly canine in its uncritical affection." Incredibly, Bond repeated this again after September 11, 2001.
Or maybe Bennett waits for apologies from the "black leaders" who attacked President Bush after Hurricane Katrina. Rep. Rangel said, "George Bush is our Bull Connor," referring to the former Birmingham, Ala., police commissioner who, in 1963, turned fire hoses and attack dogs on civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King Jr. REP. Major Owens, D-N.Y., elaborated, "Bull Connor didn't even pretend that he cared about African-Americans. You have to give it to George Bush for being even more diabolical. . . . This is worse than Bull Connor." Rev. Al Sharpton chimed in, "We've gone from fire hoses to levees." New York City Councilman Charles Barron said Rangel's statement was " . . . an insult to Connor. George Bush is worse, because he has more power and he's more destructive to our people. . . . A KKK without power is not as bad as a George Bush with power."
Or maybe . . . and so on, and so on . . .
To so-called "civil rights leaders" offended by Bennett's remarks, consider this: As between urban crime and Bill Bennett's "inartful" comments, which poses a bigger threat to the health, growth and prosperity of the black community?