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Bennett's Take on Blacks, Abortion Draws Fire

Democrats seek an apology after the former Education secretary links crime and race.

September 30, 2005|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and other Democrats on Thursday demanded that former Education Secretary William J. Bennett apologize for remarks about the crime rate and the abortion of black babies.

Bennett, a former advisor to President Reagan, responded that the comments, made Wednesday on his "Morning in America" radio program, had been mischaracterized.

The author of "The Book of Virtues," answering a caller's question, took issue with the hypothesis put forth in a recent book that one reason crime is down is that abortion is up.

"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 said.

He went on to call that "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."

On his show Thursday, Bennett, who opposes abortion, said he was "pointing out that abortion should not be opposed for economic reasons any more than racism ... should be supported or opposed for economic reasons. Immoral policies are wrong because they are wrong, not because of an economic calculation."

Reid said he was "appalled by Mr. Bennett's remarks" and called on him "to issue an immediate apology not only to African Americans but to the nation."

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), said, "At the very time our country yearns for national unity in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, these comments reflect a spirit of hate and division."

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) circulated a letter, signed by 10 of his colleagues, demanding that the Salem Radio Network suspend Bennett's show.

The radio network had no immediate comment.

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