Bill Bennett Radio Hompage with various Op-Eds.
Claremont Institute links to Dr. Bennett Op-Eds.
Dr Bill Bennett.
File under the "You probably shouldn't have said that because it's not right and the 'yellow journalism' media will have a field day with it." Dr. Bennett served as Reagan's chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1981-1985 and secretary of education from 1985-1988. From 1989-1990, he served as "drug czar" in the administration of the elder Bush. I have, up to this point held him and what he had to say with the utmost respect. His insights were very wise and well thought. I have seen him put Sean Hannity in his place before and rendered him speechless. Then came September 28, 2005.
On the September 28th broadcast of Salem Radio Network's Bill Bennett's Morning in America, he made some remarks that are going to cause him trouble in the near future. CNN already cut it up and posted what they thought fit. It was certainly out of context compared to the entire transcript here. Over at DKos, they question the statement and ask the blogger readers what they thought of the statement. I expected more verbal abuse in the post, but AHiddenSaint did well with the post. He posted the entire section of the transcript in question. Here's what all the noise is about:
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.
If you leave out the blue highlighted section, the black highlighted section sounds worse than it really is. CNN of course, left the blue section out. And as expected, they and prominent Democrats called for the GOP to denounce the racial statement and Dr. Bennett as well. And they noted he works as a FOX News contributor as a side note for the people who don't know about the evil Satan/Hitler TV station.
DKos was a little more forgiving. The author of the original post, (AHiddenSaint) finds the comments "horrible" and "hateful", but at least posts the entire section of the transcripts as seen above. The Comments section is just starting to come up with some good..well, comments. TuneSmith notes:
The freakonomics guy, as you'll remember from the daily show, pointed out that the one correlating variable to the shrinking crime rate was the legalization of abortion.
Meaning, abortion is usually about unwanted children, and if the children were born, the unwantedness would make them more likely to become criminals.
So Bennett is saying that he believes that is true, and that since the crime rate is higher among black people, that if you aborted all black babies, the crime rate would sink further.
Which might be true in the imaginary society where every other variable was held equal. And it would be true in the same way that if you killed all men there'd be a lot less rape, and if you killed all children, then you wouldn't have a problem with education funding.
It's just obviously the wrong solution to the problem of crime rate. And even though he's bringing up the point to explain how it's ridiculous, he's also sending coded race messages by implying that being black is causal to a higher crime rate. Or rather, he's not implying it, but his failure to educate is letting other people reinforce the very common false conclusion. The real answer is that people that are poor or abused by society are more likely to be criminals. And because of the biases in our society, black people are more likely to be poor or abused by society. So again it is correlation, not causation.
This makes alot of sense. However, statements about color and negativity are out of line (even if you're a man of color -ala Bill Cosby.) This is going to be a problem for Dr. Bennett in the weeks and months to come. Dr. Bennett's statement can be rationally explained given the context of the conversation as a whole, but he should have never said anything like he did in the black highlighted area above (even if he's not full of racial bigotry.)