A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[BRIEF NOTE] “Might it be possible, Heinie?”

William Bennett‘s remarkable statement that the abortion of all black fetuses in the United States would reduce crime has caused him to quite deservedly take a lot of heat, within and without the United States. He has since defended himself by claiming that this statement was a simple thought experiment. Surely, he might have gone on to add, thoughts remain free?

I’m reminded of Ron Rosenbaum’s 1998 Explaining Hitler, an effort by Rosenbaum to explore the question of what made Hitler the man he was. Why did a failed Austrian artist of lower middle class origins go on to lead Greater Germany into a disastrous war and kill most of Europe’s Jews? One of his interview subjects argued that the Holocaust was made possible only by the fact that, as of 1942, Nazi Germany controlled almost every sizable Jewish population in Europe. Hitler only wanted, the interviewee suggested, from simply wanting to dominate and make miserable the Jews of Europe. When he realized that it was possible for him to make a clean sweep of European Jewry from the Atlantic almost to the Urals–organizationally, technologically, politically–Hitler changed his mind in a single moment of realization. “Might it be possible, Heinie?” That moment would have been impossible, though, without decades of anti-Semitic thinking behind him, without the for-granted assumption–shared by Hitler with far too many others–that of course things would be better for everyone if there were no Jews. If that assumption had ever been truly and critically critically debated, in Wilhelmine or Weimar Germany, I wonder if Hitler could ever have done what he did.

As it turns out, the source of Bennett’s argument, Freakonomics author Steve Levitt disavows Bennett’s argument. “As an aside, it has been both fascinating and disturbing to me how the media have insisted on reporting this as a study about race, when race really is not an integral part of the story. The link between abortion and unwantedness, and also between unwantedness and later criminality, have been shown most clearly in Scandinavian data. Abortion rates among African-Americans are higher, but overall, far more abortions are done by whites. None of our analysis is race-based because the crime data by race is generally not deemed reliable.” Anyone familiar with (North) American definitions of race should know that. Bennett, it seems, doesn’t, or perhaps doesn’t care to. His thoughts come from him, true, but now that he has shared them with us all we may as well set to debating them for after all, they’re public-domain and one day in the not-too-distant future Bennett’s plan might even be practical.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 30, 2005 at 6:35 pm

Posted in Assorted

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