"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 impossibly ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down,"
Former Education Secretary William Bennett
Just couldn't let this one pass (still on hiatus though).
The above were comments made by former U.S Education secretary William Bennett on his radio talk show last Wednesday. You can read some more of what he says in defending himself here.
My first thoughts on reading this article on Friday was the more things change the more things remain the same. Like Kanye said "Racism still alive they just be concealing it" or in cases like this revealing it. I mean I think it was a bit shocking that this was said out loud but I'm sure deep down there are many out there who think exactly the same way. The funny thing is, as a friend pointed out, if a similar derogatory comment was made which somehow involved Jewish people myriad calls would be made by now for charging Bennett with hate crimes or something of the sort regardless of whether it was a comment he said in jest, his true beliefs or somewhere in between.
Anyway what more can be said about this comment? I guess the point of Mr Bennett is that blacks are responsible for quite a bit more than their fair share of crime. That actually cannot be denied as numerous statistics abound as to the number of blacks in jail, the number who are ex felons, the number who have been arrested etc and statistics don't lie now do they.
Mind you these stats don't let us into the inherent bias in the North American justice system where various crimes, especially those drug related or more likely to be committed by a person of color or a poor person are dealt with more harshly than those committed by those of other races or other social standing. For example the harsher penalties related to drug dealing of marijuana, months and years in prison, compared to something like the punishment for dealing exstacy for which even caught with bucket loads of the drug the offenders usually get a fine or a very short sentence. No, these stats do not show these discrepancies nor do they show the general suspicion law enforcement has of blacks and the speed with which a black man will be stopped while a similarly guilty white man may escape suspicion and be above the law while doing an analogous criminal act. Oh no these stats don't show this but then again stats never lie.
But on the real even taking these things into example we as black folks do have criminals in our midst. Full stop!
But what leads one to a life of crime? Are black folks born with a greater predilection towards criminal behavior? Is crime a disease like sickle cell anemia which affects blacks at a disproportionate level? As another friend pointed out is there a crime gene which has been detected moreso in blacks than other races? I don't know Mr Bennett is that your real point?
Maybe as a former Secretary of Education you can tell us about the state of education in the urban areas of the U.S? Do you think perhaps the failing of the education system which spends twice as much per student for most suburban schools as it does for its urban schools with a majority non-white student body has anything, anything in the slightest to do with this greater criminal behavior? Do you think that allowing the urban education infrastructure to fall apart over the years and not investing in it has anything to do with producing more criminals than scholars in certain cities? Naa, I'm probably way way off base here I shouldn't even bring that up. Crime has nothing to do with education or environment in your mind does it?
Then I thought a bit more about these comments. The fact that the man who made this comment, even if it was to illustrate a point, was a Secretary of Education just says something really scary doesn't it? Someone in charge or who used to be in charge of education is saying (to my limited black educated mind) or thinking somehow that education probably wouldn't help blacks. Downright scary. Explains a lot though doesn't it. Why bother with the black kids, they'll just become criminals.
I note also that these 'attacks' on black people have actually become a bit more prevalent lately. The justification given is that they speak out to highlight the 'truth' rather than they are racist language meant to demean an entire race. The justification given is that the black race has its head in the sand and refuses to stand up and deal with these issues within their ranks rather than if we make these types of comments often enough more and more people will believe they are the complete truth.
So why have these types of comments become so popular? What happened to the whole political correctness thing i.e lying not to offend others that was happening in the 90s? Or doesn't political correctness hold when one deals with black folks who are quite comfortable with that n word?
I think it has quite a bit to do with the rudderless-ness which has come to characterize our race over the past decade or so. In the past there was a direction. We sought equality, we sought the right to vote, we sought justice. We had purpose. We had leaders, strong leaders who sought these things along with us. Now what do we seek and who leads us? Our leaders have been killed or discredited. Who leads the way now? Jesse, Sharpton, Diddy, Jay Z?
I find the increasing prevalence of comments such as those made by Bennett a bit disturbing. Despite the outcry against them I believe that repetition wins out and justifies them in the public mind. Not only in the minds of non-blacks but also the eyes of blacks as well. Like the kid whose parent repeatedly tells him that he will never amount to nothing these comments gives us ready made excuses to not try, to become apathetic.
Also, when the majority really believes that statements about the threat of blacks to the society are true what will happen then? Is it too much to believe that a time will come when someone will say that those blacks are a menace and were better off in chains? Will the outcry at first be strong but get muted as these comments prevail? When will the chains descend, when will our children's freedom be taken from them, when will they once again say a black is only two thirds or one half of a white man? When will they say 'what about that slavery thing. That's not such a bad idea. That kept them in check.'
From a certain perspective it seems like this is the path we are taking and its just a mater of time.