On The American Prospect's blog TAPPED, Garance Franke-Ruta, who denounced me last year for saying "But I believe the truth is better for us than ignorance, lies, or wishful thinking," is now criticizing her fellow liberals Matt Yglesias and Brad DeLong for not distorting Bill Bennett's statement about abortion. Instead, truth be damned, liberals should be practicing racial demagoguery in order to get "southern African Americans" all riled up (because, apparently, southern African Americans aren't into "cleverness)." You really have to read this:
"OUTRAGE VERSUS CLEVERNESS. One of the reasons the left has such a difficult time moving public opinion is that, all too often, it reacts with cleverness to situations where outrage would be a more appropriate response. Bill Bennett yesterday offered left bloggers a golden opportunity to make political hay, and what do we have? The spectacle of them explaining his remarks away in order to prove ... what exactly? That they, too, studied Latin and philosophy?
"Let me break the significance of this down in strict political terms. The last time Democrats gained seats in Congress, in 1998, it was thanks, in part, to unusually heavy voter turnout by southern African Americans....
So Bennett's comment is ... a statement that could scarcely have been better designed to outrage a critical part of the Democratic base.
Brad DeLong, however, sees this as a great opportunity to defend Bennett for "attempting a reductio ad absurdum argument." I mean, what is the point of this other than to prove his own cleverness? Yglesias similarly takes Bennett's comments as an opportunity to assert that "the empirical claim here is unambiguously true."
Um, really? I rather thought that there was no empirical claim here. Does Yglesias really believe that he knows what a world in which there were no more black children would be like? One could equally well argue, since we are in the realm of science fiction, that such an occurence [sic] would wreak psychological, cultural, and economic devastation on America's cities, with God only knows what impact on crime. Every major city would start to look like Detroit, depopulated and run-down where it had formerly been vibrant.
Ah, my favorite word: "vibrant"! How do you know when a liberal is lying? When she uses "vibrant."
Uh, Garance, are you sure that you really want to use Detroit as your example?
Elementary schools would be the first to close, then high schools, then colleges. Tax bases would be wiped out. Whole swathes of the workforce would disappear, simultaneously depriving people of needed jobs and cities of employees to run necessary services. Who knows what would happen in such an environment -- it is really both unknowable and unthinkable.
Anyone who thinks they know what would happen is making assumptions. Implicit in Bennett's statement is the assumption that African Americans contribute only criminality to America, and that if he could he wave his magic wand and bring African Americans' tenure in this nation to an end, that is all that would disappear. That's what's offensive about his statement.
Garance, I realize you're not into "cleverness," but Bennett was saying that aborting all blacks would be a bad thing and that he was against it Specifically, he said in the same breath that it would be "an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do." Moreover, he raised the issue precisely to oppose aborting anybody, no matter what legal abortion's side effects might be.
Garance, I know you are against cleverness and I know you are against telling the truth, but did it ever occur to you that you'd be a better professional liar, as you aspire to be, if you tried not to be a complete moron when you lie?
By the way, Garance, you should make sure never to tell the truth yourself, as you did in criticizing "Bowling for Columbine" The American Prospect in which you wrote:
"Nor are Moore's suburban white gun owners, no matter how ridiculous their fears, the reason that black Americans were six times more likely to be murdered than whites in 1999, and seven times more likely to commit homicides."