Tuesday, October 04, 2005

William Bennett

The link takes you to Bill Bennett's October 2000 Wall Street Journal editorial which he started with the line "Albert Arnold Gore Jr. is a habitual liar." I bring this up in reference to the recent controversy around Bennett.

I've been following the debate over Bennett's recent remarks about abortion and black children, and was appalled at the poor judgment he showed in trying to make his point in the way he did. And yes, to my mind, his presentation was racist. I am struck by the fact that Matt Yglesias and Brad DeLong came forth to defend Bennett. In a strictly technical sense, if one ignores the horror in the suggestion that an entire race be aborted, and it's ignoring this horror that is the center of Bennett's racism, Yglesias and DeLong are not completely incorrect. Look Germany in the 1930's had some legitimate complaints about the Versailles treaty and Saddam Husein had a valid beef with Kuwait in 1990, but the respective reactions to those complaints was so horrendous as to make mention of those complaints unreasonable. Likewise, some of the accusations aimed at Bennett may be unreasonably harsh, but compared to his comment, even mentioning these things, as have Yglasias and DeLong, is to give them too much weight.

Furthermore, it is appalling to me that we are even considering the possibility that the man who penned the abovementioned editorial is being even remotely ill-treated over his comments about aborting black babies. Given the mendacity he showed in this editorial, see Bob Somerby for a take down, Bennett has no legitimate basis for complaint. There are really only two possibilities, either the editorial is such a monstrous violation of decency that Bennett should long ago have been shunned from polite society, or else the most vicious accusations against him now are only an acceptable part of political discourse.

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