Friday, September 30, 2005
Pace Bill Bennett
"...you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down."
Problems with Bennett's formulation, and the reasons why it's racist even though he was only speaking hypothetically:
1. It presumes something other than individual choice. "You could abort every black baby..." Who could abort every black baby? The government? The radical right? the Neo-Hitler-Youth? Abortion is a matter of individual liberty--one person making a decision about her own family planning. The very idea that anybody--any agency, power, or force--could "abort all" babies of any sort is essentially fascist at its root. It harks back to forced sterilization programs, not to mention final solutions.
2. It presumes that blacks are born criminals. That is, it's not because they grow up in poverty and prejudice that makes criminals out of them, it's because they're black. This is fairly typical of racist thinking on the issue. The racist idea is to emphasize the separateness of black people based on their race, by concentrating on the black underclass and then blaming underclass behavior on the entire race.
The truth is, about two thirds of all American blacks belong to the middle class or higher; blacks who grow up in the suburbs with two prosperous parents do just as well in school as the average white kid with the same advantages; etc. etc. So, to lower the crime rate in this country, would it be necessary to abort the babies of people such as, say, Bill Cosby, Oprah, Shaq, Thomas Sowell, Tavis Smiley, Al Roker, Samuel L. Jackson, Maya Angelou, Clarence Thomas, Jessie Jackson, Condoleeza Rice, Stanley Crouch, and on and on? Ridiculous.
It's interesting to note that many of the conservative blogs and commentaries on the Katrina disaster focused not on povery, mendacity, and governmental callousness, but on "looting and lawlessness." Stories were spread on the conservative noise machine emphasizing (and in many cases fabricating) these aspects of the disaster. The cause of this is systemic: racists want to believe that poor blacks cause crime, and that therefore they deserve to be discriminated against, deserve to live in poverty, deserve their own condition, their misery. As for those conservatives who insist that "black males are disproptionately involved in violent crimes," again, that's a racist formulation--because it's not because they're black, it because they're a disadvantaged underclass with low education and limited opportunities. If you were to separate out the assimilated, college-educated, professional black middle and upper classes, and analyze only them, putting the underclass aside, what you would find is that black males are NOT disproportionately involved in crime. So where does the problem lie? Is it in "blackness" per se, or is it in the existence of a disadvantaged underclass?
If you were to abort all the white babies in this country, it would eventually cut down on the number of racists. Maybe even, if we were lucky, on the number of racist right-wing talk-show hosts. Ba-dum.
The Quotidian Meander