Thursday, October 13, 2005

William Bennett: The Right Strategy for Dealing With Charges of Racism

William Bennett is refusing to apologize for or retreat from his controversial comments about how, if you wanted to reduce crime (and that was all you cared about) aborting black babies would be a good way to do it. The media and Democratic politicians, who were either ignorant of the context of the statement or who willfully chose to ignore it, went ballistic. When corrected on the context, they retreated to the claim that Bennett had “linked race and politics,” which is somehow not supposed to be done, regardless of the reality on the ground in the inner city.

In a speech delivered October 8 in Bakersfield, California, Bennett said:
I am called upon to answer charges that should never have come up in the first place. But such are the times in which we live, and sometimes their level of dialogue.

I have been slandered, defamed, misrepresented and libeled. I will not stand for it. I will not go away, or go meekly and quietly into that good night. Nor will I withdraw from the discussion. My entire career has been one of taking on serious issues, I have taken brickbats for that. I will continue to. Those who do not engage in serious conversations about serious matters can lob their shots at me. I can take them.

[...]

Could I have said it better? Maybe. But my position, one of moral condemnation, could not have been clearer. “Morally reprehensible” are the words I used immediately, in the same breath and thought as this ugly hypothetical. What do my critics not understand about the meaning of the words “morally reprehensible”? Do they think it means approval?

[...]

My critics have told me to shut up about race, crime, abortion, and black America – that I cannot go there. But that’s impossible. I have been there for forty years, and I am not leaving now.
This is precisely how one should deal with reckless charges of “racism” from liberals. Running for cover gives the race hustlers on the left a huge tactical advantage.

The reason the left doesn’t want race discussed openly and honestly is that, deep down, they know they would lose. People would refuse to accept that white people are somehow to blame for black crime. People would ask why there are still social problems in the face of 40 years of massive social welfare spending. People would question the fairness of affirmative action preferences and quotas.

It’s probably also the case that Republicans in places like academia and the Washington community have no idea how badly charges of racism play in the broader American polity. The average American knows he or she isn’t racist and that few Americans are, and immediately associates with word “racism” with sleazy race hustlers.

Thus, when faced with irresponsible charges of racism such as those made by Brent Bray against the Marquette College Republicans, the proper response is not to cower and retreat, it’s to loudly say that such charges are out of bounds, are typical of people with a corrupt agenda, and that issues that embarrass the left most certainly will be discussed.

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