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Bill Bennett comment draws condemnation

On the Wednesday edition of his radio show, "Bill Bennett's Morning in America," syndicated by Salem Radio Network, a caller raised the theory that Social Security is in danger of becoming insolvent because legalized abortion has reduced the number of tax-paying citizens. Bennett said economic arguments should never be employed in discussions of moral issues. If it were your sole purpose to reduce crime, Bennett said, "You could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down." The former secretary of education for President Ronald Reagan drew ire from many groups: "Republicans, Democrats and all Americans of good will should denounce this statement, should distance themselves from Mr. Bennett," said Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill. "And the private sector should not support Mr. Bennett's radio show or his comments on the air." "I'm not even going to comment on something that disgusting," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. "Really, I'm thinking of my black grandchild and I'm going to hold (off)." One Hundred Black Men, Inc. President Luther R. Gatling also issued a statement, and Rep. John Conyers went further, writing to Salem Communications about the matter.

Read statements here

"We are outraged by the fascist-like pronouncement of William Bennett.

But the larger question is, where is the public condemnation? On the heels of the mishandling of Katrina, from President Bush to Ken Mehlman, what is this government's message to Black Americans? What are we supposed to tell the students at the two public schools we've founded, the Bronx High School of Law, Government and Justice and the Eagle Academy for Young Men as they prepare for careers in public service and business? We are calling for the FCC to terminate Bennett's radio program, "Morning in America," and to fine Salem Radio for this hateful broadcast. Every thoughtful American should join us in condemning this statement and the thinking it reflects."

And from Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), a letter to Salem CEO Greg Anderson:

Dear Mr. Anderson:

We were shocked and outraged to learn that, on your radio network today, Bill Bennett stated on his radio program, Bill Bennett's Morning in America, "I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime you could -- if that were your sole purpose -- you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." This statement was made in response to a caller's suggestion linking abortions to the solvency of the Social Security program. 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. The fact that Mr. Bennett later acknowledged that such abortions would be "morally reprehensible," but added again that if it was done "the crime rate would go down," is equally outrageous. We ask that you immediately suspend this radio program. We also ask to meet with the executives of your network to understand how you could have permitted an individual with such views to broadcast such a program on your network, and learn what you intend to do to respond to this problem.

We are planning to convey our views to your commercial sponsors as well and hereby request a list of all sponsors of the show within the last year.

Please respond to us through Mr. Conyers Judiciary Committee Office

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