Saturday, August 15, 2015

In Which We Assume Mere Ignorance

In the video below of an interview (video below) conducted by O'Reilly Report Eric Bolling, Dr. Ben Carson contends

Maybe I'm not objective when it comes to Planned Parenthood. But you know, I know who Margaret Sanger is.  And I know that she believed in eugenics and that she was not particularly enamored of black people. And one of the reasons that you find more of their clinics in black neighborhoods is so you can find a way to control that population.

That is accurate. Ben Carson is not objective when it comes to Planned Parenthood. It is less clear he knows who Margaret Sanger was, for her views were complex and complicated, and sometimes unclear, not unlike this blog.   Sanger focused on legalization of birth control, as well as access to birth control within the poverty-stricken black community.

Wikipedia maintains she "did not tolerate bigotry among her staff, nor would she tolerate any refusal to work within interracial projects." Any animus toward blacks evidently did not prevent acceptance of the inaugural Margaret Sanger Award by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who also stated

There is a striking kinship between our movement and Margaret Sanger's early efforts. . . . Our sure beginning in the struggle for equality by nonviolent direct action may not have been so resolute without the tradition established by Margaret Sanger and people like her.

But Carson's criticism of Planned Parenthood was not limited to its founder. He did not remark "and one of the reasons that you found more of their clinics in black neighborhoods" but rather "and one of the reasons that you find more of their clinics in black neighborhoods...."  Slickly, he tried to draw a straight line from the controversial remarks of Sanger and the current activities of Planned Parenthood.

If in fact there are more Planned Parenthood clinics in black neighborhoods, the motivation hardly would be nefarious.  The rate of unwanted pregnancy is far higher in black neighborhoods than in white neighborhoods while access to birth control information and options is more limited. Additionally, in those poor neighborhoods, there is a great number of women who themselves are unable to pay for the other health services, such as AIDS testing, pelvic exams, Pap tests, and screenings for breast cancer, offered by Planned Parenthood.   Women in those areas may also have reduced mobility, an inability to travel to other parts of the city or rural area to obtain those services.

But we already knew Ben Carson as a member of the Every Young Woman A Baby Vessel Party. What we didn't know is that Dr. Carson is blissfully ignorant of the field of urban geography.  Unless a variance is obtained, no organization can operate in a building in a particular location if it is not consistent with the local zoning ordinance, which will keep it out of most affluent white sections of a city.  Notwithstanding its value to women of the area, Planned Parenthood is further disadvantaged because not all of its clients are going to be from that municipality. Its clientele will be drawn in part from outside of the town in which it is located.

Significantly, as a non-profit, Planned Parenthood is exempt from local taxes, and thus the kind of operation that revenue-minded officials are loathe to see take up important real estate. It lacks the sexiness of a craft beer tavern, sushi bar, or art gallery and will not be welcomed  as would a business, such as a convenience store, hardware store or drugstore, providing critical services or products for the neighborhood.

Individuals in some neighborhoods, additionally, would coalesce against such an establishment being set up in their backyard.    The services provided are less crucial for the affluent than for the poor or the working class; and well-off people are particularly well situated to impose their will upon local boards and officials.

Planned Parenthood, even if it wished to set up shop elsewhere, may be relegated to poor, hence minority, neighborhoods. Further, if the organization wants to go into those areas, it is merely following an iron rule of the private sector in responding to demand.

It's funny how the Carson hasn't recognized that. It is also a reminder that no matter how brilliant an individual- even a famed surgeon- is in his area of expertise, he might be blithely ignorant otherwise. Self-serving,  The candidate told Bolling "to solve problems doesn't necessarily require a lot of political experience."  However, a little bit of knowledge about how government works would go a long way and Ben Carson seems to be no more aware than he is open-minded.

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