The truth behind a misquoted statement

A conservative's remarks clarified

October 08, 2005|By GREGORY KANE

Kill Bill.

As in Bill Bennett, the conservative talk radio host who recently provided yet another paper-bag-over-the-head moment for black conservatives.

Thank you, Bill. Thanks a lot. Maybe I can do you a favor one day.

In fact, I'll do it now. Bennett did not - I repeat, did NOT - say that every black baby in America should be aborted.

But that's how his remark is being repeated. As I drove this past Monday to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to catch a flight to Greensboro, N.C., I was tuned in to a hip-hop radio station geared to a predominantly black audience.

At least three on-air personalities accused Bennett of saying exactly what he didn't say: that all black babies in America should be aborted.

Then they repeated what a few panicky black callers to the station said: that those evil, dreadful white folks were out to kill us all.

One of the on-air personalities wanted to know why Bennett's comments weren't front-page news in USA Today.

Oh, because the news was reported a week earlier maybe?

And let's be clear about who wants to kill black folks. Just check the homicide statistics of any city in America. Those on-air personalities at that D.C. radio station need look no further than the nation's capital or 40 miles north to the city now being called Bodymore, Murderland.

Those who want to kill black folks are other black folks. Martin O'Malley, the mayor of Bodymore, Murderland, is a white guy who's shown more genuine outrage about that than any so-called black leader in America.

I have no way of proving it, but it's just possible that Bennett may be even more outraged by Baltimore's black-on-black carnage than any of the black leaders criticizing him.

So if Bennett didn't say that every black baby in America should be aborted, what, exactly, did he say?

Just this: "But I do know that it's true 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."

Please notice the part in italics. Bennett said aborting every black baby in the country is precisely what we shouldn't do, not what we should do.

That being said, we can now move on to the matter of Bennett stating as "truth" the notion that black folks commit most of the crime in this country.

USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham wrote earlier this week that Bennett is wrong. Wickham said while there are over 900,000 black people in prison, there are close to 800,000 whites and nearly 400,000 Hispanics.

But, Wickham added, according to Department of Justice figures, whites made up over 70 percent of the arrests in 2003 and close to 61 percent of those arrested for violent crime.

The corresponding figures for blacks were 27 percent of all arrests and just over 37 percent for violent crime.

Blacks don't commit more crime, Wickham opined. They just go to prison more.

Data exist for years other than 2003. For the four years from 1989 to 1993, whites averaged 59 percent of drug arrests and 57 percent of illegal weapons arrests.

The numbers for blacks were 40 percent for drug arrests and 42 percent for illegal weapons arrests.

For the year 1993, blacks did indeed lead the way in arrests for robbery and murder. Whites led in forcible rape, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, car theft and arson.

When the crime is homicide, we have to talk about victims and offenders. According to a Bureau of Justice study that looked at homicide trends from 1976 through 1999, whites killed their lovers at a higher rate than blacks, as well as children and the elderly. Whites were also more likely to kill family members.

So it would have been just as true for Bennett to say, "Members of my family should be more afraid of me killing them than anybody black." But where are the ratings in that?

In fact, Bennett could have said that lobotomizing every male in the country could almost eliminate crime and virtually empty every death row in America. In fact, Bennett said something similar after the grits hit the fan about his aborting black babies comment.

But why didn't he talk about the gender disparity in crime, which is far greater than the racial disparity?

Why, to get higher ratings, of course. And you don't increase your ratings by talking about gender disparities in crime.

The racial disparity in crime - and portraying oneself as the victim of the Politically Correct Hit Squad - are sure-fire ratings winners. You can bet - no offense intended, Bill - that ratings for Bennett's show have probably been higher for the past two weeks.

And that's just the way he wants it.

greg.kane@baltsun.com

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