Bill Bennett’s drawn a lot of criticism as a hypocrite since the revelations that our Morality Czar likes the slot machines and our former Drug Czar used to smoke cigarettes. While there’s no doubt a case to be made for this, it strikes me that Bennett’s hypocrisy, such as it is, affects nobody but himself. He gambles, but his family doesn’t go hungry, and his role as enforcer of federal drug laws didn’t have anything to do with policy-making. So none of that excites me a whole lot.
Among the Bennett critics who’ve tried to mint political capital from the current abortion-and-crime flap there is one who stands out from the crowd as a shining, radiant example of the kind of shameless hypocrisy that we haven’t seen in this country for years, and man who sets a new standard for hypocrisy that will seldom be matched for generations to come.
I am referring, of course, to Detroit congressman John Conyers.
Mr. Conyers pretends that Bennett’s truthful and accurate observation that blacks commit crimes a a higher rate than the general population is so heinous that Bennett must immediately be jerked off the air. Toward that end Conyers has written a letter to Bennett’s employer replete with crocodile tears:
It is difficult for us to understand how an individual granted a show on your network could utter such a statement in 21st century America. While we all support First Amendment Rights, we simply cannot countenance statements and shows that are replete with racism, stereotyping, and profiling. Mr. Bennett’s statement is insulting to all of us and has no place on the nation’s public air waves.
Exactly that is Mr. Conyers saying here? He doesn’t dispute the accuracy of the linkage of race and crime, he simply accuses Bennett of stereotyping and profiling, some really horrible offenses, to be sure. We wouldn’t want to use stereotyping and profiling in the pursuit of crime prevention, because to do so would violate our civil rights and diminish as a nation.
And indeed, Conyers has been a champion and a leader of the movement to prevent profiling by law enforcement in America:
WASHINGTON — For the third time since 1998, Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, introduced legislation to stop policing efforts that target people based on race.
The End Racial Profiling Act of 2001, unveiled Wednesday at a bipartisan news conference, would require police agencies to tally the race of persons detained in traffic stops. It also would provide federal grants for other means to end racial profiling, including cultural awareness training and equipment such as video cameras.
“Since I first introduced this kind of legislation … the pervasive nature of racial profiling has gone from anecdote and theory to established and documented fact,” Conyers said. He cited data from nine states that show blacks and Latinos are disproportionately pulled over for traffic stops at a much higher rate than whites.
Now that’s excellent; even though data from Conyers’ own state show that white people are pulled over by police disproportionately, his heart must be in the right place.
Or is it? What if it turned out that the most high-profile piece of legislation that Conyers has ever sponsored was replete with stereotyping and profiling, to such an extent that it contained nothing but stereotyping and profiling, and if you took out the stereotyping and profiling it contains, there would be nothing left? Surely that would damn Conyers’ to the circle of hell reserved for con-artists, hypocrites, and shameless hucksters, wouldn’t it?
Satan, prepare a place for the congressman: Conyers is principal co-sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act:
In 1994, Congress passed VAWA to address the nationwide problem of domestic violence and sexual assault. VAWA provided funding to combat the violence that is visited upon almost 900,000 women each year by their current or former spouse or boyfriend. In addition, VAWA made changes to our civil and criminal laws to address domestic violence and sexual assault…
That is where H.R. 1248 comes in. The bill continues funding for VAWA programs such as law enforcement and prosecution grants to combat violence against women, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, battered women’s shelters and services, education and training for judges and court personnel, pro-arrest policies, rural domestic violence and child abuse enforcement, stalker reduction, and others.
Importantly, this bill takes preliminary steps to address dating violence, an area which was left out of the previous VAWA — with serious consequences. Young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rates of violence by current or former intimate partners. And 40% of teenage girls between the ages of 14 and 17 report knowing someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.
Now this is pretty clear: Conyers says women are victims, male spouses and boyfriends are perpetrators of intimate violence. There is no dispute about this, no admission that women may actually send a little violence back the other way or down to the kids, right? Because we all know that where domestic violence is concerned, women are good and men are bad. That’s the sexist stereotype and profile.
Bill Bennett’s hypothetical scenario (mass abortion of black babies) isn’t going to happen; he’s just a talk show host and he wasn’t arguing for it in any case. But Conyers’ law was passed, funded to the tune of billions of dollars, and operative in tens of thousands of arrests and custody battles throughout the country. It’s been effective in helping to continue the breakdown of the black family, and to ensure that most black children in America grow up without their father in the house. And that, of course, leads directly to high rates of school dropout, high rates of drug abuse, and to the high rates of crime that Bennett had the nerve to acknowledge.
No wonder Conyers is offended: if we start talking about race and crime we’ll eventually get around to the stooging that black leaders like Conyers, Jesse Jackson, and Wade Henderson have been doing for the enemies of their community, and we can’t have that, can we? Even though true, it would be stereotyping and profiling, the cardinal sin in the hands of sexists as well as racists.