The Elephant in the Room

Over at the National Review, the guy from Weekend At Bernie’s thinks we’re being too harsh on Bill Bennett :

It was in this context that Bennett remarked: “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.” Was he suggesting such a thing? Was he saying that such a thing should even be considered in the real world? Of course not. His whole point was that such considerations are patently absurd, and thus he was quick to add: “That would be an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do.”

Bennett’s position, clearly and irrefutably, is that you cannot have tunnel vision, especially on something as emotionally charged as abortion, in addressing multifaceted problems. It is almost always the case that problems, even serious ones, could be minimized or eliminated if you were willing to entertain severe solutions. Such solutions, though, are morally and ethically unacceptable, whatever the validity of their logic. The lesson to be drawn is not that we can hypothetically conceive of the severe solutions but that we resolutely reject them because of our moral core.

Exactly! Bill Bennett wasn’t saying that we should abort all black babies. Only a monster would even suggest such a thing. He was simply pointing out that black people are inherently criminal. He’s not some sort of racist that approves of abortions, he’s a racist who hates abortion. Big difference.

In defending Bennett, the guy from Pretty in Pink was forced to point out an uncomfortable fact about America that most conservatives have spent the last few decades trying to sweep under the rug :

Statistics have long been kept on crime, breaking it down in various ways, including by race and ethnicity. Some identifiable groups, considered as a group, commit crime at a rate that is higher than the national rate.

Blacks are such a group. That is simply a fact. Indeed, our public discourse on it, even among prominent African Americans, has not been to dispute the numbers but to argue over the causes of the high rate: Is it poverty? Breakdown of the family? Undue police attention? Other factors — or some combination of all the factors? We argue about all these things, but the argument always proceeds from the incontestable fact that the rate is high.

Are African-Americans more likely to commit crimes[1]? Possibly so, but notice the string of questions that follow this assertion, as if to imply that “this stuff is so complicated, nobody really knows the causes”. This is complete bulls***. African-Americans are also more likely to be living below the poverty level, get shitty educations, have inadequate access to healthcare, etc. All of which are actual factors[2] in determining whether or not someone is going to be a criminal. The lack of insight of a**holes like Bill Bennett and the guy from St. Elmo’s Fire is so great, they can’t see the statistics that have “long been kept on crime” and come to any conclusion deeper than “black people commit crimes”. In other words, they’re too f***ing stupid to understand the statistics that they use to defend themselves.

But pointing this out inequalities doesn’t make someone a racist. No, Bill Bennett and the guy from Mannequin are racist because they’re pea-brained s***heads who refuse to look at the racial inequality in this country and search for answers beneath the surface. Why are African-Americans less likely to have healthcare than whites? Why do predominantly black schools get less money and have larger class sizes? Why do back people die sooner, make less, and are more likely to spend time in prison than their white counterparts? People like Bennett like to point out that the “black” part of town is usually the “bad” part of town, but it’s never really bothered them enough to ask “Why?”.

The reason for this cultural myopia is that the “If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist” brand of conservatism has long held that racism is a thing of the past. To them, Martin Luther King Jr. cured racism with his “I Have A Dream” speech, and any remnants of inequality is due to some unexplained “cultural difference”[3]. If you point out the obvious fact that the scars of slavery are still healing, they’re quick to respond “I’ve never owned any slaves”. Well, duh! The question isn’t whether slavery is over, but whether African-Americans are fully integrated into American society. The very fact that there are serious differences makes the answer a resounding “no”.

To cut this rant off while it’s still semi-coherent, lemme go back to the remark that started all this. In response to a question about whether the increase in abortions reduced the crime rate, Bennett said “you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down”. Even if that comment was defensible on its merits, one has to wonder why the first example that popped into Bennett’s head was the nexus between race and crime. The fact that there are still people like Bill Bennett who think there’s a causal relationship between skin color and crime tells you all you need to know about where we stand in terms of race relations in this country.

1 : And by “crimes”, I mean the scary kind that they talk about on the news like robbery and assault, not the “everyone does it” variety that’s so popular in Washington these days like insider trading, money laundering, and obstruction of justice.

2 : As opposed to skin color.

3 : A slimy way to leading people to that other conservative maxim, that all poor people are lazy.

UPDATE : Yes, I know the Andrew McCarthy who wrote the NRO article isn’t the same one who acted in all those movies in the 80’s. It was supposed to be a joke, so you can stop emailing me about it. Sorry for any confusion. I hope nobody got the impression that the actor from those John Huges movies was a racist or that the writer for the National Review was talented enough to star alongside Molly Ringwald or Rob Lowe.