Tuesday, October 04, 2005

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.
Defenders of Bill Bennett's statement, ranging ideologically from Matthew Yglesias to Jeff Goldstein, maintain that Bennett was not in fact advocating the abortion of every black baby. Which is of course obvious, and not the basis of any reasonable objection.

The actually offensive part of Bennett's statement was his assertion that mass black fetuscide would, of necessity, cause crime to drop. Bennett's defenders do not dispute this idea -- in fact, they appear to consider it beyond dispute.

It's strange that so many public intellectuals think the condition of black folks will not improve in another generation. In a way I am more surprised by the conservatives than by the eventheliberals. We are constantly assured by them that Iraq will swiftly improve, indeed, will soon flower into an oasis of democracy. If that shitstorm can subside, why not black crime stats?

But stranger still is the insistence of Bennett and his supporters that his comment be celebrated as part of an honest effort to "talk about race and crime" -- something we are, alas, "not allowed" to do, due to PC pressure.

Any discussion that begins the way Bennett began his is not going to evolve into anything very edifying. If you tell someone his mama is ugly, it does not matter whether his mama is indeed ugly, or pretty, or of debatable appearance; you should not be surpised if he responds, not with a reasoned defense of his mother's appearance, but with his fists.

Whatever statistics may show, and however reasonable your inferences from them may seem to you, ordinary people will take it amiss when you tell them that their children are predestined to be criminals. This feeling is natural, indeed primal, but it is not ill-informed or delusional. It is based on a bit of ancient wisom: that the sins of the fathers need not be visited upon the sons. (This idea also corresponds with common sense.)

Still Bennett's defenders seem to think that black folks should endure -- and even agree with -- the proposition that their children are prison-bound, else they are not sufficiently interested in an honest Dialogue on Race.

In the late 19th century, people frequently said that for the Irish-American, criminality was in the blood. We think these statements rather crude now -- but imagine how much different things might have been if we had defined these utterances as part of our Dialogue on Race.

Samuel D. Burchard would still have insisted that the Democrats were the Party of "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion," for example, but no one would have disavowed or been alarmed by it (except, of course, race-card-dealing Democrats); rather, social scientists would have rushed forward with charts, and perhaps phrenological diagrams, to defend his analysis as something no thinking person could dispute. The Republican Party would have prescribed for the troublesome "Romanist" immigrants covenant marriages and government-funded classes on matrimony (and maybe a drawing class with Thomas Nast).

If prominent Republican Irish-Americans protested this slur, they would probably be told something like what Goldstein tells black Republican Robert George -- that they are "shifting their condemnation toward the linguistically corrupt notion that the signifier, divorced from intent, is nevertheless the responsibility of the utterer" -- though without, of course, all the semiotic trappings, which would have left the sentiment somewhat earthier.

ADDENDUM. Charles Murray, whose previous contribution to our Dialogue on Race was The Bell Curve, drops some winger science on New Orleans. He goes on about the underclass, based on Katrina's revelations of "looters and thugs, and those of inert women doing nothing to help themselves or their children." This sounds an awful lot like that MSM overreaching the Perfesser has been complaining about, and which caused some of his acolytes to call the press racist. "Behaving self-destructively is the hallmark of the underclass," says Murray. Well, not only of them, apparently.

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