Friday, September 30, 2005

Black abortions

There is a lot of buzz about Bill Bennett's comments about black abortions, but those on both sides don't seem to address the real issue. Bennett's defenders argue that he was quoted out of context, but that's not it. Listen to the whole context, and it sounds like he is saying:
I am anti-abortion. The pro-abortion arguments do not persuade me. For example, even if abortion could be used to exterminate the entire black race and thereby slash the crime rate, I'd still be against it.
Bennett is not saying that black babies should be aborted, but he is suggesting that:
The crime rate is much higher among black Americans. The problem is genetic, and the obvious solution is to kill them before birth.
Many black people refuse to believe that the crime rate is any higher for blacks, and they are very offended by any suggestion that it is an inborn problem. Furthermore, they are suspicious that right-wingers are racists who want to get rid of them. They think that Bennett wants to get rid of the black race, but does not advocate it because he believes that the end does not justify the means.

On the other hand, I can see why Bennett thought that the subject was fair game for public comment. A popular book, Freakonomics, has promoted the idea that American abortions have drastically cut. The book does a careful dance around the racial implications (as explained here), and has been widely praised. The thesis has also been attacked as being wrong. I haven't been able to figure out who is correct.

Bill Bennett's brother Bob is in the news also. He is the lawyer representing NY Times reporter Judith Miller. Miller's main claim to fame is that she was the one who convinced the public that Iraq had WMD. Now this NY Times story says that she spent 3 months in jail because Bennett didn't explain to her that her source had waived confidentiality. So either Bob Bennett has messed up another case, or Miller just went to jail as a publicity stunt, or there is more going on than what we have been told.

Here is Bill Bennett's statement on the matter. I think that his defense of himself has just made the matter worse. The more he says, the worse it sounds.

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