Editorially Speaking

Race And Crime: The Lynching Of Bill Bennett

As some have said, it was perhaps not his most articulate moment. But what he said had a context which, when understood, clearly demonstrates that the statement was not an argument for what those who are now lynching him on trumped up charges claim. For when Bill Bennett said, "You could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down," he was not in any way making an argument for actually doing so. Quite the opposite. He was, in fact, trying to demonstrate just how "morally reprehensible" this totally noxious idea was in order to refute a point one of the callers to his radio program had made. What was the context? A caller to Bennett's radio show had argued that if there had not been 45 million abortions since Roe v. Wade, there might now be enough young workers to prevent Social Security from heading for insolvency. Although this may well be true, Mr. Bennett, who is a teacher/philosopher, cautioned the caller against making economic arguments to settle moral issues. He noted that the best seller Freakonomics linked legalized abortion to the drop in the number of young males and the falling crime rate. In his rebuttal, he said:

If you wanted to reduce crime, you could—if that were your sole purpose—abort every black baby in this country, and our crime rate would go down.

Now, is there anyone, white or black, who does not realize that this would, in fact, significantly reduce the crime rate? Surely not! However, from a moral standpoint, the idea is totally reprehensible. This is precisely what Mr. Bennett went on to say:

That would be an impossible, ridiculous, morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down.

Not withstanding the usual suspects, like Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan et al., can any fair-minded person read these remarks in context and think that Mr. Bennett was proposing racial genocide via forced abortions on black women? Certainly not! He was just trying to show that, morally speaking, the ends do not justify the means, a lesson our post-modern culture would do well to relearn. Nevertheless, the lynch-mob mentality is quite telling. Rep. Melvin Watt, Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, announced:

These kinds of outrageous comments will continue unless there are economic consequences to those who make them. I therefore call on all radio station owners who carry Bill Bennett's show to immediately terminate the show, and if they fail to do so, I call on his sponsors and advertisers to withdraw their advertising dollars.

In other words, Mr. Bennett should be censored and denied a forum. But why? What untruth did he tell? What morally reprehensible idea did he advance? Mr. Bennet has a very public track record and there is not one iota, not one smidgen, of evidence, and that certainly includes this episode, that indicates the entrenchment of any racist ideology in Mr. Bennett's thinking. What then? In my opinion, it's the truth about the correlation between race and crime that lies at the root of this issue. It's not politically correct to talk about this correlation in public and for this Mr. Bennett must be severely punished. Even the Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman lamented Mr. Bennett's "regrettable" and "inappropriate" remarks. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan rammed the knife home with, "The president believes the [Bennett] comments were not appropriate."

You see, folks, we live in a culture where truth-telling is not acceptable (cf. Isa. 59:14). For instance, because racial/ethic profiling is not politically correct, the Department of Homeland Security tries to get us to believe they are protecting us by searching our grandmothers' underwear at airport security while permitting those who look like the ones who hijacked those 9/11 airplanes to walk through unsearched.

During the recent hurricane Katrina episode, the liberal (and not so liberal) media wanted everyone to think that blacks in New Orleans were being neglected because they were "African-Americans." In this tragedy it was deemed politically appropriate to play the race card on a grand scale. Because the media is the tail that wags the dog today, many believed what they were seeing was an example of the alleged prejudice whites are supposed to have of blacks in America. There surely are racists, both white and black, in America today, but our society, thank God, is no longer plagued by institutionalized racism. I am sure there were a multitude of very simple and extremely complex reasons for what we were seeing and hearing on our television sets concerning New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, but I am fairly certain there was no institutionalized neglect of the inhabitants of the inner city of New Orleans because they were predominately poor and African-American. Government is not quite the perfect savior many people think it to be. Plenty of mistakes were made, no doubt, but what was done was also quite amazing. Nevertheless, there is something else that was also bothersome: not only were the majority of the victims in the wake of Katrina poor and black, they also appeared to be the majority of the victimizers, shooters, looters, and rapists who preyed on the poor, unfortunate African-Americans of New Orleans. So, in the wake of Katrina, the unanswered question lying just below the surface is: "Why so many predators?" But be very careful, for such questions aren't permissible in today's culture—it is just not politically correct. "The whole issue of crime and race" has been on people's mind since New Orleans, the Washington Post quotes Bennett as saying. It's aired frequently in academic settings and is simply no big deal, he is reported to have said. Perhaps in academic settings, Mr. Bennett, but not for public consumption. I think he now realizes what a big "No, No" he committed by airing such thinking in public, for it is simply not politically correct to do so, and the penalty for any infraction will be most severe. Al Sharpton called Bennett's remark "blatantly racist." Sharpton, paragon of moral fortitude that he is, went on to complain that Bennett made "crime and blacks synonymous." Other black leaders jumped on saying Bennett's remarks reinforced a stereotype of African-Americans being responsible for a disproportionate share of crime. Yet, according to the Washington Times, the stereotype rests on truth. The Times said:

A study last year by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics said that about 44 percent of state and federal prisoners in 2003 were black, 35 percent were white, 19 percent were Hispanic, and 2 percent were other races.
With the white population in America being six times the black population, and the black population in prison outnumbering whites five to four, a bit of simple math tells us that the crime rate in black communities is seven times greater than in white communities. So, should Bennet be silenced because he broached the subject or should Sharpton and Company be called on to explain why these things are so? Furthermore, I don't know how many blacks the Klan killed in its heyday, but supposedly one in three abortions today are performed on black women—there were 413,000 in 2002 alone. Consequently, more than 1 percent of America's entire black population is being put to death each year. I don't think the horror the Klan inflicted on blacks comes anywhere close to this holocaust, do you?

Is there a correlation between race and crime? Yes, and Bill Bennett isn't an ogre for saying so. Did Bill Bennett advocate aborting black babies in order to reduce the crime rate. Absolutely not! What, then, does this brouhaha indicate? It tells us that American culture has fallen, morally, and that it may not be able to get back up.

Ms. Bush And The Charge Of Sexism

According to The Washington Post, Dr. James Dobson, "after receiving permission from [Karl] Rove," revealed to the world the contents of their now-famous conversation. Dobson, said the Post, claims "Rove told him Bush was focused on finding a woman for the court, which he said may have cut the list of candidates '80 percent.'" If this is true, President Bush, in his effort to fill this decisive swing seat on the Supreme Court, and at the prodding of his wife, eliminated from consideration every male lawyer in the United States—and more than 80 percent of all U.S. district and appellate court judges—solely because of gender. It is interesting, then, when asked on NBC's "Today" show if criticism of the Harriet Miers nomination might be rooted in sexism, first lady Laura Bush seemed to welcome the question, saying, "I think that's possible." Describing Miers as "an extraordinarily accomplished woman" who had "broken the glass ceiling," Ms. Bush took her stand with Ms. Smeal of the Feminist Majority Foundation who branded critics of Miers' meager credentials a pack of sexist males. Smeal told The New York Times, "I think that essentially that this hue and cry that she isn't qualified, there's a sexist basis to it." She went on to say: "Does she have the mental capacity? Give me a break. Would they say that about a man? I don't think they would."

But if Ms. Bush really wants to talk sexism, then it is quite clear that she and her husband are the real sexists here. After all, by hanging out a shingle reading, in essence, "No Males Need Apply!," Mr. Bush has made the O'Connor judgeship the affirmative action seat for women on the U.S. Supreme Court. In truth, conservatives had absolutely no objection to a woman taking O'Connor's seat, as long as she was truly the most qualified person (or at least one of the most qualified persons), who holds the President's own judicial philosophy, that he could have vetted. But Harriet Miers, as fine a lady as she no doubt is, is not that woman.

Now let's just think about it for a moment: If you were to select from a computer base the name of every lawyer in the United States and then added the following qualifiers—the nominee must be a devout evangelical, a woman and someone who has not been a federal judge, with no paper trail, who will not trigger a Senate fight or filibuster, and who George Bush has come to know and like—the name of Harriet Miers would pop out every time. But what on earth happened to the search for a justice cut from the same bolt of cloth as Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas, who all had a formed judicial philosophy based on strict construction of the Constitution, and the intelligence and capacity not only to argue that position, but to persuade other justices of its wisdom? There are women who are known to have these qualifications, like Janice Rodgers Brown (who is also black), Priscilla Owen et al., who "right-wing conservatives" (I really didn't know there were any other kind) would have been happy to have Mr. Bush nominate for Sandra Day O'Connor's seat. So, Ms. Bush's charge of sexism serves as a slap in the face to the very supporters who have been faithful to her husband in two presidential elections but will simply not rubber-stamp every decision he makes, including this one. For sure, we are not thrilled with Mr. Bush's selection of nominees, but sexism had absolutely nothing to do with it, and unless Laura Bush is a dimwit, and she's not, she knows better. So shame on you, Laura, for playing the sexist card. We conservatives expected and deserved better.

Harriet's Withdrawal

Now that Ms. Miers has withdrawn from the running for Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the Supreme Court, it appears her nomination was doomed from the beginning. Bush's conservative base was insulted by his statement that she was "the most qualified candidate." Say what? Harriet Miers is more qualified than Michael Luttig or Janice Rogers Brown? Not hardly. It was an utterly stupid and condescending thing to say to your base! At the end, even James Dobson, who had originally supported Ms. Miers, changed his tune, saying the president's acceptance of Miers' withdrawal was "a wise decision." He wrote:

In recent days I have grown increasingly concerned about her conservative credentials, and I was dismayed to learn this week about her speech in 1993, in which she sounded pro-abortion themes, and expressed so much praise for left-wing feminist leaders.

Dobson, who is now saying his support was only "tentative," said he was waiting to hear more about her judicial philosophy through the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, which were scheduled to begin November 7. "Based on what we now know about Miss Miers, it appears that we would not have been able to support her candidacy," he said. And what do we now know? In an undated speech given in the spring of 1993 to the Executive Women of Dallas, Miers appeared to offer a libertarian view of several topics in which the law and religious beliefs were colliding in court.

The ongoing debate continues surrounding the attempt to once again criminalize abortions or to once and for all guarantee the freedom of the individual women's [sic] right to decide for herself whether she will have an abortion.

Those seeking to resolve such disputes, she warned, would do well to remember that "we gave up" a long time ago on "legislating religion or morality." It would appear, then, that Miers's 1993 professed belief in self-determination suggests she favored a woman's right to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. In the intervening years, perhaps she changed her mind. Then again, perhaps she didn't. Nevertheless, it was clear from the beginning that she was not what Bush had promised—namely, the nomination of justices to the Supreme Court in the mold of Scalia and Thomas.

The Elephant In The Room And The Toothless Republican Party

In Matthew 5:37, the Lord said: "But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than this is from the evil one." In such an ethic of transparency, there is no room for political doublespeak. Our word is to be our bond and anything beyond this is "from the evil one." Therefore, it ought not to be hard for one to understand from whence comes the garbled rhetoric of Supreme Court nominations. Everyone knows there's an elephant in the room, and the elephant is the abortion issue. And everyone—at least everyone who's anti-abortion—pretends it's a subject that cannot be mentioned. But isn't it time to set the record straight and honestly say what needs to be said? Isn't it time to be honest and tell the truth about what we want? Just look at the absurdity of what has happened, remembering as we do that the lord of darkness loves absurdity. Pro-lifers, and this includes not just a pro-life president, pro-life administration, and a pro-life Congress, but most of the pro-life lobby as well, are so cowered by the "pro-choicers" that no conservative nominee to the Supreme Court can be permitted to declare his or her pro-life commitment. At the same time, the other side has not so encumbered itself, for when Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg more than a decade ago, she arrived at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings with her pro-abortion banner boldly fluttering in the wind. No wink-and-nudge routine was required; no guessing game was imposed on her backers. Everyone, liberal or conservative, knew how her votes would go on abortion and other related subjects. After all, a pro-abortion president had won the election, and with the election came the right to name Supreme Court justices who agreed with his position.

But because the lord of darkness doesn't play fair (cf. Rom. 1:18), the same rules do not apply in 2005. The current president does not have the right to appoint justices that reflect his judicial philosophy because Democrats/liberals don't want to take any chance of Roe v. Wade being overturned. Consequently, they have all honed up on stare decisis. Precedent, they claim, must be followed. What has been decided must remain decided, blah blah blah, blah blah blah. Unless, of course, there is some decision that will move culture a little bit more to the left and, then, such will be hunky-dory. But it is not the democrats' hypocrisy and duplicity that is bothering me so much, for I have learned to expect such from them. What bothers me is the toothless Republican majority, which includes the White House and both houses of Congress, that is afraid to stand up, speak up, and fight for what is right. As Joel Belz said in a recent article in World Magazine, what, pray tell, would be wrong with a nominee, when asked about Roe v. Wade, who was willing to declare straightforwardly:

Count on me to side with the weak and the defenseless. Count on me to be a friend to the littlest of the little children. No, it would be wrong for me to apply that broad conviction in an answer today to a specific case that might come before the Supreme Court. But the president said when he campaigned for his office that he supports a culture of life. He and I have never discussed specific cases, and we won't. But he knows I share his convictions, and it would be only natural for him to nominate someone who does ("Straight Talk," World Magazine, Nov. 5).


So, one ought to be able to see it wasn't Harriet Miers or her liberal opponents who looked weak or silly in October. It was a political party and its leadership that claims to believe something very important and then whimps out when it comes time to do something about it. Shame on you, Mr. Bush. Shame, shame, shame!

Judge Alito

Yesterday, October 31, President Bush nominated Appeals Court Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. to be an associate justice on the Supreme Court. Alito has an Ivy League education and a glittering conservative resume. He served at the Justice Department under President Reagan and gained his appointment to the appeals court from the first President Bush.

It looks like the conservative base flexing its muscle has had the desired effect. Judge Alito, from all appearances, is cut from the same mold as Justice Scalia, who is the kind of justice Bush had promised to nominate to the Court in the first place. Rest assured that the Democratic minority in the Senate and all the liberals of various ilk will pull out all stops to defeat Judge Alito. You can count on the 22 senators who voted against Roberts to vote against Alito plus another 15 "no" votes for a total of 37 against, give or take one or two.

But barring some unforeseen flaw in Alito, I believe he will be confirmed by the Senate. On the other hand, if the Democrats filibuster Alito's nomination, and they very well may, the American people will make them pay dearly come re-election time. Nevertheless, the fight over Judge Alito is sure to get real ugly. Religious conservatives, of course, welcome the fight.

Now, if Mr. Bush has learned his lesson on this, and it appears he may have, and if he gets another chance to nominate one more justice due to a vacancy before his term is over, and if he is still willing to nominate a conservative who is anti-abortion, then we may have that change we've all been praying for.

(All editorials are written by Allan Turner. You can contact him at allan@allanturner.com )

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