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William Bennett's Comments Amount to "Race Baiting," Prof. Ted Rueter Declares in Op-Ed

October 7, 2005

ted-rueter.jpgOctober 7, 2005, Greencastle, Ind. - The comments made by William Bennett on his radio talk show this week were "deeply offensive, insensitive, ignorant, and hurtful," writes Ted Rueter, assistant professor of political science at DePauw University, in today's Bloomington Herald-Times. Bennett, the former U.S. Education Secretary and drug czar, stated, "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."

In his op-ed, Dr. Rueter states, "It is true that the lifetime chances of black men going to prison are 18.8 percent, while they are 10 percent for Hispanic men and 3.4 percent for white men. However, Bennett's proposition that 'blacks cause crime' is extremely misleading and ugly. First, this formulation ignores the poverty rate. In 2004, three times prison cliparrt.gifas many blacks (24.7 percent) lived in poverty than whites. It is clear that poverty is related to crime. Second, it ignores sentencing disparities. A report issued by the National Council on Crime and Juvenile Justice found that when minority and white youth were charged with the same crimes, African-American youth with no criminal history were six times more likely to be imprisoned than Caucasian youth with similar backgrounds."

The professor adds, "In his 'thought experiment,' Bennett could have more logically used gender instead of race. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, males are 10 times as likely as women to be incarcarated. Therefore, 'if your sole purpose' was to reduce crime, it would make much more fountain spring 2005.jpgsense to abort every male fetus instead of every black fetus... By singling out blacks, he was engaging in race baiting."

Rueter, whose books include 449 Stupid Things Democrats Have Said, 449 Stupid Things Republicans Have Said, and The Politics of Race: African-Americans and the Political System, concludes: "William Bennett's statement linking abortion, race, and crime was provocative, foolish, and insensitive. Even a 'thought experiment' can be racist."

Read the complete column at College News.org.

Learn about Ted Rueter's other recent columns here, here, here, here, and here.

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