- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 16, 2005

Liberal theory

“What is it about liberals and conservatives that they can both say the same thing but liberals are praised as paragons of enlightenment while conservatives are reviled as green-eyed monsters?

“William Bennett was in hot water … for disputing a theory that a liberal economist has been touting for four years — that the big drop in crime during the 1990s was a salutary result of legalized abortion.

“Steven Levitt, a maverick economist at the University of Chicago, first put forward the theory in a 2001 paper entitled ‘The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime.’ …

“Levitt’s thesis is that before abortion was legalized in 1973, only affluent women were able to get abortions. … [After abortion was legalized] poor women could get abortions as well. As Levitt puts it, this allowed ‘poor, unmarried teenage mothers’ to abort their children. ‘They were the very women whose children, if born, would have been much more likely than average to become criminals.’

“To liberals, Levitt’s argument was a home run. …

“But the theory has blatant racial overtones. Although Levitt never comes out and says it, he is obviously talking about blacks. Blacks are hugely overrepresented among ‘poor, unmarried teenage mothers.’ … Anyone who spends five minutes studying crime statistics knows that blacks have violent crime rates five or six times that of whites.”

—William Tucker, writing on “Scapegoating the Messenger,” Oct. 3 in the American Enterprise Online at www.taemag.org

Continental decline

“A slogan painted on trucks and taxicabs all over Africa, much beloved by metaphor-hunting authors, reads: ‘No condition is permanent.’ This is true, but some are recurring. Tyranny in Zimbabwe, famine in Niger, a constitutional coup in Togo, rampant corruption in Kenya, protesters shot in Ethiopia, an epidemic in Angola, civil war in Sudan — those are this year’s headlines, but if you think you’ve heard it all before, you have. Martin Meredith, in his new book ‘The Fate of Africa,’ writes that ‘what is so striking about the 50-year period since independence is the extent to which African states have suffered so many of the same misfortunes.’ … Africans are getting poorer, not richer. They are living shorter, hungrier lives.

“The decline of an entire continent confounds our preconceptions about human advancement.”

—Andrew Rice, writing on “Why Is Africa Still Poor?” in the Oct. 24 issue of the Nation

Killer ‘kitsch’

“The 20th century was remarkable not only for the number and scale of the atrocities it witnessed but also for the slowness with which these frightful events were recognized for what they were, let alone condemned. Of these crimes, which began with the mass murders by Lenin and Stalin in the USSR (costing 20 million lives) and continued through the Nazi Holocaust and the democides in China and Cambodia, only the Nazi horror is regularly acknowledged and truly well known.

“This is particularly the case with the crimes of Mao Zedong. … China has never repudiated Mao as Khrushchev did Stalin at the [Communist Party] congress of 1956. … Nor, with honorable exceptions, have Western scholars ever dealt with Mao as at least some did with Lenin and Stalin. Today, no one in his right mind would put a portrait of Hitler in his house. Yet, in many places in the West, Mao kitsch — posters, badges, busts, and so forth — is still considered not only acceptable but fashionable.”

—Arthur Waldron, writing on “Mao Lives,” in the October issue of Commentary

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