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Tue, Oct 04 2005

Why Did Bill Bennett Pull Out The Race Card?

I've been quietly reading and absorbing the various reactions toward Bill Bennett's recent comment concerning what would happen if black babies were aborted. DeWayne Wickham in USA Today wondered if Mr. Bennett could have used a little more logic in his wild statement.

Les Payne in Newsday realizes that Mr. Bennett's remarks may only be a verbal expression of what a lot of other people feel but don't say.

William Saletan from Slate. Did the man who said these things a few years ago really make such a statement on the radio?

Joe Trippi said on his blog that he had doubts that Mr. Bennett was ever profiled for driving in a wrong neighborhood. Mr. Bennett's piece from the aforementioned National Review says he was harrassed, apparently partly because his vehicle sported Texas license plates at the time.

I read more online comments regarding Mr. Bennett's recent remark. One person, in this case Julius Hansen, believes that there has already been encouragement for more abortions of unborn black children.

I went back and read Mr. Bennett's piece from the National Review again. He seemed to be in favor of abolishing any form of practice that encourages favoritism or prejudice by way of numbers. This only makes his referral to all those black children more curious. The mention of any number used to set aside a group of people--be it school admission, housing restrictions, job advancement or abortion statistics helps no one, according to Mr. Bennett. Was he citing the ludicrous abortion idea in order to catch those who were prejudiced against black people--or was the remark intended to shame those in favor of abortion rights? Or both? Or neither?

I remained confused about Mr. Bennett's remarks, even after reading a transcript of the phone call. This man has a history of public service and has had a lot of practice with words, both written and spoken. I hadn't heard the original broadcast, so I went to Mr. Bennett's site, where I finally listened to a recording of the infamous on-air conversation. Neither the caller nor Mr. Bennett sounded overly emotional or agitated in their discussion. Mr. Bennett's voice was that of a calm, self-assured speaker--indeed, a consummate talk show host. I noted no hint of loss of emotion, nor did I sense that he went off on some wild imaginative scenario as I'd thought he might have done (after I'd read several reactions to his comment). He seemed very much in control.

Was this whole thing an unfortunate, off-the-cuff remark? Or was Mr. Bennett saying exactly what he wanted to say? He certainly has enough experience to know it would stir up listeners (and others). Did he let something racist slip from his lips or was it a carefully chosen phrase? Whatever his motivation was, there's no doubt that he's gotten plenty of attention over it. What remains now is to see what he, and others, do about it.

posted at: 11:21 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

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