By Scott Patterson
Illustration by Jennifer Kearney
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 17, 2005
After conservative commentator William Bennett sparked national controversy by suggesting that aborting black babies would reduce crime rates, one scene from the football movie "Varsity Blues" has been running nonstop through my head.
Newly minted star quarterback Jon Moxon is sitting on his girlfriend's porch, discussing the upcoming West Canaan district title game with her. After registering a series of complaints about coach Kilmer to the unfortunate young lady, the girlfriend, not wanting to hear more of it, slaps the new star quarterback with some curt advice: "You want some cheese with that whine?"
The same words of wisdom should be applied to those who were offended by the radio talk show host's comments about abortion, blacks and the crime rate. They are whiners, and they need to back off. Bennett owes no apology.
Bennett became the center of media attention after saying on "Morning in America," "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."
Critics lashed out almost instantly.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was "appalled by Mr. Bennett's remarks" and called on him to "issue an immediate apology not only to African-Americans but to the nation."
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Chief Bruce Gordon said he was "personally offended and angry that Bennett felt he could make such a public statement with impunity."
Rev. Al Sharpton called the statement "blatantly racist" and took it a step further saying, "(Bennett is) a man who thinks black and crime are synonymous."
Lois Hatton of USA Today went so far as to say that Bennett irresponsibly suggested the genocide of an entire race of people by abortion and that he broadly labeled blacks as a race of criminals.
Even the Bush White House got in on the act. White House press secretary Scott McClellan stated, "The president believes the comments were not appropriate."
I, unfortunately, can just shake my head in disbelief. Every time I read such criticisms, I find myself wondering whether or not these critics know what was actually said.
First of all, Bennett's statement is factually accurate. If all black babies are aborted, then crime will go down. Period. That doesn't mean that such a policy would work only with black babies; we would see similar results with mass abortion of whites, Hispanics, Asians, etc.
Second, the comment was not racist. Nor does it "broadly label African-Americans as a race of criminals." Bennett chose blacks because they make up a disproportionately high percentage of inmates in our jails. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, of the men and women behind bars last year, 910,200 were black; 777,500 were white and 395,400 were Hispanic.
Although the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports affirms that more than twice as many whites as blacks (6.7 million to 2.6 million) were arrested in 2003, if we compare these numbers to population demographics, we find that blacks are still more likely to commit a crime.
According to the 2004 census there are 235,990,895 whites and 37,521,497 blacks living in the U.S. Dividing the above listed arrest statistics by the respective populations; we find that 6.93 percent of all blacks were arrested for a crime, compared to only 2.84 percent of whites. Thus, it is understandable why Bennett chose blacks.
I realize that the focus here should be on income and poverty levels and not on race, but the fact remains the same. Because poorer people tend to commit more crimes than richer people, and blacks tend to be poorer across the board, it is no wonder that blacks tend to be involved more in criminal activities.
Third, Bennett never advocated this policy. He put forth an "absurdum," which merely acknowledged the existence of a potential means to a stated end. He immediately dismissed the suggestion as "impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible" thereby proving that he is no way is in favor of such a policy. Moreover, Bennett is an abortion opponent.
Thus, what this all boils down to is the abuse of the too often played race card by Bennett's opponents to gain some cheap political points. This whole ordeal was blown way out of proportion. William Bennett did nothing wrong, and I stand by him.
Scott Patterson is an international studies senior. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.