Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Color of Virtue

Bill Bennett said something on his radio show that was so beyond politically incorrectthe quote that it reminds me of a time when I was in school and a fraternity that happened to be next to the Hillel House began chanting “Hitler had the right idea” at some party.  I didn’t think that the fraternity which probably even had some Jewish members was advocating for the reopening of Auschwitz in the East Bay.  I understood that they probably had too much to drink that day and got carried away.  Believe me, I’ve done any number of stupid things myself and wished I never said or did whatever it was that I did.  The deeper mystery was how these guys were making it through a reasonably competitive college at a time of intense political correctness.  In Bill Bennett’s case, I’ve listened to the tape a couple times and recognize that he was attempting a reductio ad absurdum.  He obviously wasn’t advocating eugenics or forced abortion.  It’s just that when you say “We could reduce crime by aborting every black baby in America,”  it might occur to you that some folk might not understand the sophisticated and subtly  elegant philosophical proposition as stated.

That said, I’m less stunned by what he said than the fact that the guy used to be the president of Duke University.  He’s not a twenty year old drunken frat boy and he said it on the radio while sober.  I suspect he wasn’t even gambling at the time though you can do all sorts of things online these days.  I do wonder what happened to those frat guys now that they’re middle aged.  Did the reaction to the incident raise their own sensitivity?  Are they staffing the Department of Homeland Security?  Are they the arugala and endive buyers for an extensive chain of gourmet markets?  Are they keeping blogs?  

When Larry Krueger, a local sports talk host who has never been president of a major university or the Secretary of Education, ultimately got fired for his off the cuff comment about “brain dead Caribbean hitters on the Giants”, my  first instinct was to look at the Giants actual statistics to see who had the highest ratio of strikeouts to walks on the team.  The answer turned out to be that two of the worst offenders were Mike Matheny, one of the “smartest” catchers in baseball, and Lance Niekro  whose uncle and father were “crafty” knuckleballers.  The most “disciplined” hitter on the Giants was Moises Alou, the manager’s son who had grown up in the Dominican Republic.  The statistics told me that something other than the facts had shaded Krueger’s comments., despite what all his friends said about how nice he normally is to people who speak Spanish and play baseball.

I thought I’d do the same with Bill Bennett.  I put “race and crime statistic” in a google search and got a surprising number of sites right off that claimed to have the statistics on black crime in America.  Three of the first five had ties to the Aryan nations, David Duke, etc.  I have no idea if any are currently run by former fraternity brothers from more than twenty years ago who happened to live next to the Hillel House.  I don’t mean to say that in modern times a person should be judged by the google company he or she keeps, it just surprised me.

One of the interesting things about these sites is that even their numbers show that most murders in America are committed by whites.  For some reason, the sites I saw  broke America down into just two races, black or white.  They didn’t appear quite as concerned about  those of us who are neither or the growing number of Americans who happen to be both.  For what it’s worth, members of the Bush family appear to commit crime at a far greater rate than any other group in America not named Gotti.  They, however, seldom get indicted.  Instead they become partners in baseball teams etc.  

Blll Bennett said any number of things afterwards about what he intended to say and the context of his Freakonomics argument.  He insists that his words are getting twisted, a fascinating admission in itself from someone with a PHD in Political Philosophy, a law degree from Harvard, and twenty five years in national politics. I think though , much like Larry Krueger, it’s not what he meant to say, it’s what it revealed.  Krueger apologized and still lost his job,  Bennet hasn’t and still appears to be on the air along with that drug addict guy who shares Terrell Owens’s opinion of his quarterback and the phone sex guy.  After all, accountability is one of their “virtues”.


At 10/04/2005 02:16:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think we need to talk about swaggertism, among other things.

Swaggertism is the methinks the lady doth protest too much theory. These folks who bray about virtue seem to have this dorian-gray janus bastard or creepo on the other side of their face that they either don't see, seriously repress, or some other psycho-contortion to avoid seeing like a squirrel running around the tree trunk.

BillBoy Bennett always made my skin crawl.

How do these creepy people stay on the air?

(You know, I finally got oddly fond of Tammy & Jim Bakker after their big crash. Tammy was (is?) a good egg. It must be that only America can have such sideshow folk in the limelight? Ratfeces Limbaugh & BillBoy Bennett aren't good eggs. President of Duke? Whew.)

At 10/04/2005 02:53:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

I do think that Bill Bennett's thing was more faux pas than an announcement that he endorses David Duke.

Perhaps he can do a radio show with Tammy Faye.


Post a Comment

<< Home