Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Bennett Hasty in Linking Crime Reduction to Race Stereotypes

Former Secretary of Education William Bennett has recently been criticized for linking this country’s crime rate and the abortion of black babies. Answering a caller’s question on his radio show, “Morning in America,” about a recent hypothesis in a book that one reason crime is down is that abortion is up, Bennett said, “But 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.”

Bennett went on to say that doing so was “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.” Nevertheless, the damage of his first statement is far more extensive. Bennett argues that he was opposed to taking such measures. But it is not the idea of the act itself that is causing an outrage; it is the belief that what he said was true – less black babies or black people equal less crime.

Any person with a mere inkling of the laws that govern statistics knows this cardinal rule: Correlation does not equal causation. The rate of breast implants is up as well. Could that be a reason why crime rates are going down? If that’s the case, then as a citizen of this country it is the duty of every American woman to get a breast implant – for the good of her nation. Ludicrous, is it not? And for that matter, the controversial hypothesis to which they were referring never specified a high rate of black babies being aborted. Bennett’s assumption is reckless and insulting.

Technically speaking, perhaps aborting all black babies would reduce the crime rate, not because these babies are black, but because you would be removing a large portion of the population itself. Therefore, the same would occur if you aborted all white, Asian or Latino babies. In general, as populations decrease, so do crime rates. Just look at the statistics of crime rates in cities versus those of suburbs or rural areas.

As former education secretary, Bennett is a very public and influential figure. Making statements with these types of implications is not only detrimental, but also completely irresponsible. As a figurehead and a radio personality, Bennett has much power and authority in the public eye. And it is statements like this from such public figures that continue to strengthen these minority stereotypes. How can we question the truth of these statements when they are coming from a well-educated former cabinet member? Knowledge is power, but apparently you do not need to have knowledge in order to use your power. Bennett should not have made such ungrounded statements and claimed them to be fact. Nor should he have been entertaining such a controversial, rudimentary theory to begin with.

Raphaella Poteau is a junior in the college and criminal justice chair of the Georgetown Chapter of NAACP.

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