While answering a question from a caller to his “Morning in America” radio show last Wednesday (9/28), former Education Secretary William J. Bennett took issue with the hypothesis put forth in the book Freakonomics that one reason crime is down is that abortion was legalized, reducing the number of unwanted babies born in recent decades.
Bennett, author of The Book of Virtues, admitted high stakes gambler, and director of drug control policy under the first President Bush, said, “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.” He went on to call that “an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.”
He said later his point was that abortion should not be opposed for economic reasons because “immoral policies are wrong because they are wrong, not because of an economic calculation.”
Conservative Republican Bennett’s comments drew criticism from the usual Democrats: Senate minority leader Harry Reid said he was appalled; Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy called them racist; House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said they were shameful; Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said the comments were “hateful, inflammatory” and asked whether they represented the values of the Republican party; and the Rev. Al Sharpton said Bennett’s comments were “blatantly racist.”
But the White House also weighed in: “The president believes the comments were not appropriate,” White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.
The fallout continues. Yesterday, Bennett postponed what would have been Tuesday’s appearance at the University of Cincinnati, saying, “The current controversy that has arisen around comments I made on my radio show, based on a willful distortion of what I said, will take away from the serious discussion I wanted to engage in with the students and community at the University of Cincinnati,” in a statement released Sunday by the UC College Republicans.
Today, education curricula company K12 Inc. announced that Bennett “has resigned as an employee, and as Chairman and member of the company’s Board of Directors, effective immediately.”
Blogcritics’ ongoing news and opinion on the controversy:
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