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White House Criticizes Bennett for Remarks – New York Times

In Uncategorized on October 2, 2005 at 10:21 am

White House Criticizes Bennett for Remarks – New York Times:

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK

and MAREK FUCHS

Published: September 30, 2005

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 – The White House distanced itself today from the comments of a prominent Republican who said on a recent radio program that the nation’s crime rate could potentially be reduced through aborting blacks.

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William J. Bennett, the former Republican secretary of education, said that the nation’s crime rate could potentially be reduced through aborting blacks.

The White House called the comments, made by William J. Bennett, the former Republican secretary of education, off base. The White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said that President George W. Bush “believes the comments were not appropriate.”

Mr. Bennett has said the remarks were taken out of context, noting that he immediately said such abortions would be “reprehensible.”

Mr. Bennett, who served as drug czar for the president’s father, came under fire from Democratic Congressional leaders on Thursday for the comments, which were made on a his radio show, “Bill Bennett’s Morning in America,” earlier this week.

“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,” Mr. Bennettsaid in the broadcast. “That would be 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.”

In a radio broadcast on Thursday, Mr. Bennett called the criticism of him “ridiculous, stupid, totally without merit.”

“I was pointing out that abortion should not be opposed for economic reasons, any more than racism or for that matter slavery or segregation should be supported or opposed for economic reasons,” he said. “Immoral policies are wrong because they are wrong, not because of an economic calculation. One could just as easily have said you could abort all children and prevent all crime, to show the absurdity of the proposition.”

Mr. Bennett, who was the secretary of education in the Reagan administration and is the author of a best-selling book on morality, said he was referring to a debate in the online magazine Slate that had discussed race in the context of an argument about whether abortions contributed to lowering the crime rate. That debate, involving Steven D. Levitt, an author of the best-seller “Freakonomics,” apparently appeared in Slate six years ago.

In an interview with Fox News, Mr. Bennett said critics had distorted his comments by omitting his statement that aborting all black babies would be “morally reprehensible.”

“When that is included in the quote, it makes it perfectly clear what my position is,” Mr. Bennett said, “They make it seem as if I am supporting such a monstrous idea, which I don’t.”

The Democratic Congressional leaders, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, both sought to put the remarks in the context of a Republican effort to court African-American voters. Mr. Reid said Mr. Bennett’s comments would “feed the fires of racism,” and Ms. Pelosi called them “shameful words.”

David D. Kirkpatrick reported from Washington for this article and Marek Fuchs from New York.

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  1. Planned Parenthood Advocates Abortion to Reduce Crime

    And the bizarre thing is that Bennett, who explicitly rejects abortion, is under attack.

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