Saturday, October 01, 2005

Bill Bennett Races to Judgment
The crime rate would go down in the U.S. if blacks were aborted, former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett said during hisnationally syndicated radio showyesterday:

... 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.

The belief that a particular race is more prone to criminality is often based on rates of incarceration, such as aBureau of Justice Statisticsreport that blacks have an 18.6 percent lifetime chance of being incarcerated, compared to 10 percent for Hispanics and 3.4 percent for whites.

Judging this solely on the basis of current incarceration is both extremely ugly and misleading. Other contributory factors are ignored, such as a2004 poverty ratefor blacks that's 24.7 percent, three times as high as that for whites, and the fact that minorities aresignificantly more likelyto be arrested and convicted than whites who commit the same offenses.

There's also the tragic generational consequences of a parent's incarceration, which increase the chance a child will end up in prison later in life.

Bennett could have made the same point using gender instead of race -- males are 10 times as likely to be incarcerated as women, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

By choosing to make this about race and single out blacks, Bennett engaged in one of the uglier examples of race baiting I've heard from a national radio host, even though he tried to qualify his thoughts by admitting they were"morally reprehensible."I hope he has the decency to offer a full apology.

Update: Matthew Yglesias, perhaps fishing for another Yglesias Award,defends Bennetton TPM Cafe, while Rep. John Conyers calls for hissuspension.