Patterico's Pontifications


Harry Reid, Howard Dean, and Oliver Willis Support Abortion of Black Fetuses??

Filed under: Abortion,Morons — Patterico @ 7:34 pm

Bill Bennett recently made some remarks criticizing the concept of abortion generally, and more specifically, the concept that we should abort black fetuses. Bennett called the latter idea “an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do.”

In response, Bennett received criticism from famous dummies like Harry Reid and Howard Dean, as well as from not-so-famous dummies like Oliver Willis.

I guess Reid, Dean, and Willis are in favor of aborting black fetuses.

This is perhaps not surprising coming from someone like Harry Reid, who has criticized Clarence Thomas for writing dissents inferior to the white Antonin Scalia — even when said Scalia dissents don’t exist. Nor am I surprised to hear such racist sentiments from Howard “Go Confederate Flag!” Dean. But from a black man like Oliver Willis? I’m very disappointed.

P.S. Some might accuse me of taking these folks’ remarks out of context. Some might say that Harry, Howard, and Oliver were really criticizing Bennett for being a racist. But hey — we live in a soundbite culture! They knew the risk that their statements would be misrepresented . . .

P.P.S. Irony alert!

31 Responses to “Harry Reid, Howard Dean, and Oliver Willis Support Abortion of Black Fetuses??”

  1. And why couldn’t Bennett have just skipped making that inflammatory remark?

    That would be foregoing an opportunity to inflame the black community. And we can’t have that.

    ‘Sound familiar Patterico?

    Tillman (1cf529)

  2. I’m not saying I would have said it. But there’s a difference between inflaming it with something true, and inflaming it with something false and misleading.

    Patterico (4e4b70)

  3. The comment wasn’t inflammatory, the interpreters were already inflamed by bigotry and opportunism.

    Bennett, at the worst, spilled a dollop of sticky warm wax into a pool of ancient and unstable nitroglycerin.

    Let’s see; sawdust, Nitro, and wax equals dynamite.

    Wax, sawdust, and heat yeild light. The missing component is the Nitro of opportunistic bigotry.

    RiverRat (54c18d)

  4. RiverRat, right – entertaining the idea of aborting all black children isn’t inflammatory.

    Tillman (1cf529)

  5. Listen, I could say: if you classify fetuses as non-humans, that sort of logic could justify classifying Jews as non-humans like Hitler did, and you could end up killing millions of Jews.

    Is what I said “entertaining the idea” of killing millions of Jews? No. It is pointing out that a certain sort of argument is unconvincing because the same logic would justify something really horrible.

    If you don’t understand that, Tillman, then you don’t even understand what Bennett actually said. Maybe you need to find a transcript and read the whole thing.

    Patterico (4e4b70)

  6. I’ve wondered all along if the real reason any of the libs are upset about this statement is because the real message was anti-abortion, not because the fake one was anti-black.

    Xrlq (428dfd)

  7. Xrlq,

    Upset? No I don’t believe this has anything to do with being upset. I think it’s all about seizing an opportunity to reacquire power by playing the old worn black ace they’ve been playing since the early 60’s. Spades…of course.

    Yes, I’m a member of Lincoln’s party.

    RiverRat (54c18d)

  8. If it isn’t “entertaining the idea,” then what would you call it then Patterico?

    Tillman (1cf529)

  9. Tillman,

    Let me answer with a cut and paste because you obviously lack education:

    Reductio ad absurdum (Latin for “reduction to the absurd”, traceable back to the Greek ἡ εις άτοπον απαγωγη, “reduction to the impossible”, often used by Aristotle) is a type of logical argument where we assume a claim for the sake of argument, arrive at an absurd result, and then conclude the original assumption must have been wrong, since it gave us this absurd result. This is also known as proof by contradiction. It makes use of the law of non-contradiction — a statement cannot be both true and false. In some cases it may also make use of the law of excluded middle — a statement which cannot be false, must then be true.

    Proof by contradiction! Got it Tillman?

    RiverRat (54c18d)

  10. If it isn’t “entertaining the idea,” then what would you call it then Patterico?

    Ridiculing the idea — or, more properly, using the assumption that people already believe the idea to be ridiculous, as a part of a larger argument.

    You really don’t get his argument, do you?

    Patterico (4e4b70)

  11. Or, put another way, what RiverRat said.

    A reductio ad absurdum argument assumes that the audience understands the absurdity of the end result. That does not mean that the end result is being “entertained.” Quite the contrary.

    Patterico (4e4b70)

  12. The Bennett Kerfuffle

    The Bush adminstration is reinforcing the notion that it has no respect for intellectual discussion; White House spokesmen Scott McClellan recently asserted that…

    the political pit bull (ebbe67)

  13. Patterico,

    I think a key point for discussion is readers and listeners of the MSM are presumed to not understand or can be propagandized by the Big Lie not to understand.

    This obviously includes Tillman if he’s being honest. If he’s not honest, he’s trolling.

    RiverRat (54c18d)

  14. Please, someone keep Tillman from reading Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”.

    Exploding heads are just sooo messy.

    Darleen (f20213)

  15. How could you be disappointed in Willis? He’s proven himself a racist and a bigot more times than can be counted. He brands most any white person whose politics he doesn’t like racist–which is of course racist in and of itself. Not to mention his own embarassing disparagement of black culture in other contexts.

    Disappointed? Disappointment with Oliver for expressing racist sentiments is like being disappointed in George Bush for mangling sentences.

    Dean Esmay (0e0491)

  16. I think you might have missed the intended irony of my post. This is likely my fault; sometimes I play it too deadpan.

    The point was supposed to be: I was taking Reid’s, Dean’s, and Willis’s comments out of context, and reading them as disagreeing with the notion that society should not abort black fetuses. This was intended to mock these three for having taken Bennett’s remarks so badly out of context — and to mock those who said that Bennett should have known better anyway, because it’s a soundbite culture.

    Sorry I didn’t make it clearer. Maybe an update is in order.

    Patterico (4e4b70)

  17. I would have recognized this as irony if you had used the deadpan delivery emoticon. 😐

    Doc Rampage (b7bb1a)

  18. I’m so sick of this ‘racism’ crap.

    Bennet’s point had nothing whatever to do with race.

    Dwilkers (a1687a)

  19. Well Patterico, at least you admitted that “I’m not saying I would have said it.” It was irrelevant to the argument, but it hopefully shows that you agree that it should not have been said.

    RiverRat, in order for a “Reductio ad absurdum” argument to be sound, the premises of the argument have to be true. I rejected one of the premises of your argument. In order for an argument to be true, it has to be both valid and sound. Since one of your premises isn’t sound, your argument isn’t true.

    This is unusual for me, but I’ll make an observation in defense of Bennett (for the sake of full honesty on my part).
    Bennett is at least interested in some philosophy – there was a TV show I saw on Plato’s Republic which featured Bennett explaining some of Plato’s ideas. So it looks like Bennett has read some philosophy.

    Now philosophers are guilty (as RiverRat hints at) of thinking all kinds of thoughts that may or may not be politically correct. So if Bennett has studied philosophy, it may be that he is corrupted from philosophy (admittedly, I think that way too at times). However, it might be difficult to explain this as a reason to anyone who hasn’t studied philosophy.

    In fact, one of my favorite memories of studying philosophy has to do with just that. I had never read Nietzsche per se, but had heard of him – that he was a very deep and dangerous genius. I decided one day to spend a few hours trying to grasp the ideas of this giant in philosophy. An understanding of ultimate reality was to be mine if I could only focus sharply and keep the long lines of argument going in my weak mind. So with my brow furrowed, and armed with all of the mental energy I could muster to argue with this legend, I read:

    Supposing truth is a woman – what then?

    After laughing hysterically at that, needless to say it was hard to get that right mind-frame back to be serious about reading more of Beyond Good and Evil. But at that point, I also knew that I would have to read it. Anyway, not exactly PC, is it?

    Tillman (1cf529)

  20. Tillman–

    From Bennett’s Heritage bio (temporarily offline): “He holds a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Williams College, a Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Texas, and a law degree from Harvard.”

    See Dubya (c01825)

  21. All the better then – it confirms my point. Thank you See Dubya.

    Tillman (1cf529)

  22. Tillman

    You say: RiverRat, in order for a “Reductio ad absurdum” argument to be sound, the premises of the argument have to be true.

    But RiverRat posted: is a type of logical argument where we assume a claim for the sake of argument

    Bennett was assuming for sake of argument the correlation between abortion and crime, then stated even if aborting “black babies” would have a desired affect on the crime rate, such a purely utilitarian proposal was both absurd and morally reprehensible.

    Considering the larger context of the on-air discussion, preceding the caller Bennett was conversing with, dealt with the issue of the Media’s sensationalist coverage of New Orleans during Katrina (erroneous reports of rape/murder in Superdome, etc), Bennett doesn’t seem to have plucked “black babies” as part of his argument out of thin air or a deep rooted “racist” sentiment (as Bennett’s attackers have charged).

    And be that as it may, I’ll quote Jeff GoldsteinLinguistically speaking, we have but two choices: either insist language be ground in the intentions of its utterers, or else conclude that we must each be responsible, in perpetuity, for whatever might be done with our utterance once it leaves our control.

    Forty years ago the attack on Daniel Patrick Moynihan handed the linguistic control of the debate on “racial issues” to people fully uninterested in an honest discussion. Maybe this kerfluffle can be the first chink in the pc armor.

    Darleen (f20213)

  23. Darleen, I apologize for the confusion. It’s my fault since I was talking as if RiverRat’s argument in #3 was also in “Reductio ad absurdum” form, but it clearly isn’t. My statement about the soundness of the argument was directed at RiverRat’s argument, not Bennett’s.

    But the main thing is, put the shoe on the other foot here. What if some liberal talking head started talking about, for example “Well, if we aborted all Christian babies…” – you guys wouldn’t be up at arms?

    Tillman (1cf529)

  24. But the main thing is, put the shoe on the other foot here. What if some liberal talking head started talking about, for example “Well, if we aborted all Christian babies…” – you guys wouldn’t be up at arms?

    It would certainly depend on the intent of the liberal and the context of the quote. If he was arguing a hypothetical re the advance of Atheism, in response to a question, and then proceeded to state that one could certainly increase the percentage of Atheists by aborting all Christian babies, but that would be morally reprehensible, why would I take offense?

    If he is advocating the abortion of all Christian babies to advance the cause of Atheism, of course I would take offense. It is the intent of the utterer that retains primacy.

    rls (0516f0)

  25. Tillman

    Context, sir, context. If a pro-life liberal were making the same Swiftian ‘modest proposal’ that aborting all “christian babies” (btw, do babies have a religious belief system?) would solve “religious violence”, and at without missing a beat assured everyone that such a utilitarian proposal was absurd and morally reprehensible, I would actually applaud his/her standing up to the usual stereotype that “religion is the root cause of most violence.”

    Darleen (f20213)

  26. If I could, I would require everyone commenting on Bill Bennett’s comments first take a test to find out if they have heard or read a transcript of the original interchange with the caller, or relying on second hand quotes. I then would clarify just how much of the original they heard.

    The entire idea of “aborting black babies” was a reference that William Bennett, PhD, JD, made to the book “Freakonomics” (or whatever).

    The conversation started with a caller claiming the social security problem was a result of legalized abortion. The caller argued, had there been no abortion, we would have ~30 million more people in the work force now paying taxes, etc. Bennett ‘s response was to say that such a claim was greatly oversimplified (you would have to assume the 30 million were gainfully employed, etc. etc.) and he would argue about abortion on its own direct merits. Bennett then referred to the book where the claim is made that the decrease in violent crime in the ’90’s was due to the legalization of abortion in the ’70’s. (Assuming more abortions are performed in stressful situations such as single moms, etc, so less children were raised in the kind of fatherless homes that are linked to higher crime rates). I am not sure if it was in the book or Bennett’s showing the next extension, since there is a higher rate of unwed pregancies in the African-American community- I think that was the line of reasoning. So he was actually arguing against conclusions that could be drawn from freakonomics (although I don’t believe the author of that book advocated the practice of his conclusions, rather just described the phenomena). Bennett went on to say how absurd and monstrous such a policy decision would be.

    (I thought I remembered him going on to say with his radio staff something to the effect that “if you aborted everybody you would have no crime, no people no crime”, but i have not heard that in the limited clips I have heard since).

    I doubt many listeners of Bennett’s show were confused by what he said. They would know that Dr. Bennett is against abortion, not making any exceptions on the basis of race. I doubt any of those blasting him honestly believe what they are saying (if they do, either they haven’t heard the entire clip or are so angry/bitter they can’t be rational). It was pointed out that there was no such uproar when similar statements were made on NPR months ago by the author of the book when he was interviewed.

    I would also point out that instead of using the caller’s claim as an opportunity to voice opposition to abortion and affirm the caller’s point, he responded with intellectual integrity on the argument’s merits, whether or not it lead to a conclusion he would prefer.
    (FWIW, this may be my last post. My time constraints are going to keep me from “coming out to play” 🙁 ).

    MD in Philly (b3202e)

  27. Here’s the thing that gets me: Bennet was talking about the idea raised in Freakonomics that the declining crime rate is linked to abortions over the last twenty years or so.

    Here’s the thing: in the Freakonomics version, race is not part of the argument. Regardless of whether Bennet actually believes that aborting all black people is a good idea (and hopefully he doesn’t), why the hell would he insert the word “black” where it was not in any way necessary to prove his point?

    Here’s my theory: I think he said “black” because he perceives the source of the most crime to be primarily African Americans. That’s why he didn’t say, for example, “…babies who grew up on Wall Street.”

    My issue with this is that it assumes a bias that is, in my opinion, unfair. While many African American communities do have disproportionately crime rates per capita, there are a number of factors at play here, from justice system inequities on down the line (as the great Patterico once told me, correlation does not equal causation).

    Most importantly, Bennet could have said, “low-income babies” or even more simply “male babies” and made his point equally well. Instead, he chose to target one race and link it with crime–and there was absolutely no reason to do so, both in the context of his topic (Freakonomics) and his resulting example.

    Tom (eb6b88)

  28. If you want to find ways to criticize what you think is in a person’s heart, work on this, from Planned Parenthood’s website in defense of margaret Sanger.

    “The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”

    This statement is taken out of context from Margaret Sanger’s Woman and the New Race (1920). Sanger was making an ironic comment — not a prescriptive one — about the horrifying rate of infant mortality among large families of early 20th-century urban America. The statement, as grim as the conditions that prompted Sanger to make it, accompanied this chart, illustrating the infant death rate in 1920:

    Deaths During First Year
    1st born children 23%
    2nd born children 20%
    3rd born children 21%
    4th born children 23%
    5th born children 26%
    6th born children 29% 7th born children 31%
    8th born children 33%
    9th born children 35%
    10th born children 41%
    11th born children 51%
    12th born children 60%

    MD in Philly (b3202e)

  29. Tom, of course race is part of the argument in Freakonomics. It’s just that Leavitt didn’t come right out and say it. Say “low-income” and it’s understood to be a euphemism for “black,” whether or not justifiably. It was pretty clear that Bennett wasn’t intending to do anything other than discuss the hypothesis in Freakonomics, and it’s also pretty clear that Leavitt wasn’t suggesting that if not for abortion, the huge numbers of babies that would have been born to middle/upper middle class women would have been the source of the crime wave we just missed.

    Bennett should have known better, nevertheless. At least he should have laid out in explicit terms the implicit racial component of the Freakonomics hypothesis, and put a little distance between that connection and his own position.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  30. MD, maybe you could pick another example. When you disclose that Sanger was a proponent of eugenics, it looks less like a statement taken out of context and more like a proposed final solution, even if, just that once, Sanger’s heart was in the right place.

    It’s a little harder to convince people that Bennett is a racist, except those who already think every Republican is a racist.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  31. Hmmm.

    I was trying to show that a hero of the left, of an organization that is the apple of the eye of the left, has as part of her legacy a statement suggesting infanticide is an appropriate action at times and can not be made to look any better than this passage from Planned Parenthood itself. I see no evidence that “Sanger’s heart was in the right place” anywhwere.

    MD in Philly (b3202e)

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