In Defense Of Bill Bennett

Some comments that Bill Bennett recently made have been doubly taken out of context by much of the left and used in an attempt to unfairly smear him as a racist. Here’s the quote that the left been focusing on:

“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.”

Note that what Bennett said is absolutely correct. The reason Bennett said that “you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down” is because black Americans commit a disproportionate amount of crime.

So why did Bennett pick black Americans out of the hat? Couldn’t he have picked other groups of Americans who commit a larger than normal share of crime compared to their percentage of the population?

The reason Bennett specifically mentioned black Americans was because he was answering a question from a caller who was making an argument that was popularized by Steven Levitt’s Freakanomics. As a matter of fact, Bennett specifically mentioned the book just before he uttered the quote the left has focused on:

“…you know, one of the arguments in this book Freakanomics 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.”

Again, what Bennett said is correct. Here’s a quote from Steven Levitt:

“Declining crime rates could result from… selective abortion on the part of women most at risk to have children who would engage in criminal activity…”

Basically Leavitt’s theory is that statistically, the women who are most likely to have an abortion are also the women who are most likely to have children who will become criminals. Ergo, after Roe v. Wade became legal, the number of abortions skyrocketed, and that eventually led to an overall drop in crime.

That’s an intriguing theory with implications that cut across ideological lines and although many conservative disagree, personally, I think there’s something to it.

But in any case, that’s the argument that Bennett was essentially rehashing…and rejecting. Here’s the 2nd part of the quote that most lefty websites aren’t bothering to show to their readers:

“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 once you read what Bennett said in context, you find that he said nothing racist whatsoever. If Democratic politicians who’ve called for Bennett to apologize — like Harry Reid and Raum Emanuel — were honest men, they would themselves apologize for their misleading, politically motivated attempts to slime Bill Bennett as a racist.

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