Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Modest Proposal

Via archy and Media Matters for America comes this little bit of social engineering from Bill Bennett, America’s moral knight in shining armor — when he’s not hitting the slots.

Addressing a caller’s suggestion that the “lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30 years” would be enough to preserve Social Security’s solvency, radio host and former Reagan administration Secretary of Education Bill Bennett dismissed such “far-reaching, extensive extrapolations” by declaring that if “you wanted to reduce crime … if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.” Bennett conceded that aborting all African-American babies “would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do,” then added again, “but the crime rate would go down.”

Here’s the transcript:

CALLER: I noticed the national media, you know, they talk a lot about the loss of revenue, or the inability of the government to fund Social Security, and I was curious, and I’ve read articles in recent months here, that the abortions that have happened since Roe v. Wade, the lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30-something years, could fund Social Security as we know it today. And the media just doesn’t — never touches this at all.

BENNETT: Assuming they’re all productive citizens?

CALLER: Assuming that they are. Even if only a portion of them were, it would be an enormous amount of revenue.

BENNETT: Maybe, maybe, but we don’t know what the costs would be, too. I think as — abortion disproportionately occur among single women? No.

CALLER: I don’t know the exact statistics, but quite a bit are, yeah.

BENNETT: All right, well, I mean, I just don’t know. I would not argue for the pro-life position based on this, because you don’t know. I mean, it cuts both — you know, one of the arguments in this book Freakonomics that they make is that the declining crime rate, you know, they deal with this hypothesis, that one of the reasons crime is down is that abortion is up. Well —

CALLER: Well, I don’t think that statistic is accurate.

BENNETT: Well, I don’t think it is either, I don’t think it is either, because first of all, there is just too much that you don’t know. 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. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.

So, when the shit hits the fan over this (if, Dog help us, the SCLM picks it up), Bennett’s excuse will be that he was merely channelling Jonathan Swift? I don’t think so. As John notes,

Forbidden thoughts do have a place in social satire and black humor. Bennett wasn’t doing either of those. He was making a flippant, off-hand comment in defense of banning abortion. But if we consider that context, let’s also consider that he chose that example at a time when Hurricane Katrina has exposed the persistence of white fears of black lawlessness. Hundreds of news outlets uncritically printed rumors of criminality once New Orleans had been left in the hands of lower class blacks. Almost all of the stories have proven false, but that isn’t preventing the evacuees from being treated like criminal hordes wherever they go.

Did that background noise have anything to do with Bennett’s choice of example? I don’t know, but his perpetuating the idea of African-Americans as a criminal race certainly isn’t going to help things. What a sick bastard.