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Defending Racial Abortion Comments, Santorum And Hannity Inadvertently Reveal Their Contempt For The Black Community

Reported by Ellen - January 25, 2011 -

I’m willing to grant that Rick Santorum and Sean Hannity were genuine in their belief that Rick Santorum’s recent criticism of President Obama “as a black man” for supporting abortion rights was meant with the best of intentions and not with any intent to hurt. But, like Bill O’Reilly’s comments about his dinner at Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem, where he was astonished at how lovely and well-behaved everybody was, Santorum’s and Hannity’s arguments that blacks ought to be especially pro-life because of the higher incidence of abortion in their communities revealed deep-seated prejudices, not the kind of sensitivity the two surely thought they were displaying.

In a two-part debate with Al Sharpton last night (1/24/11) on Hannity, Rick Santorum defended his shocking remarks about Obama and abortion made in a recent interview:

The question is -- and this is what Barack Obama didn't want to answer -- is that human life a person under the Constitution? And Barack Obama says no. Well if that human life is not a person, then, I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say, 'we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.'

CBS’ Political Hot Sheet reported that Santorum explained his comments in a written statement,
"For decades certain human beings were wrongly treated as property and denied liberty in America because they were not considered persons under the constitution."

"Today other human beings, the unborn of all races, are also wrongly treated as property and denied the right to life for the same reason; because they are not considered persons under the constitution," he continued. "I am disappointed that President Obama, who rightfully fights for civil rights, refuses to recognize the civil rights of the unborn in this country."

The Hot Sheet also pointed out that abortion opponents have lately seized on this “treating a fertilized egg as property is similar to the way slaves were treated as not fully human” meme as part of their anti-abortion argument.

I don’t get the argument myself. But it’s more than a little high-handed, condescending and arrogant – not to mention insensitive – for a white man to decree in what prism a black man should view slavery. Santorum should have just apologized for a poor choice of words or some such and dropped it. Instead, he doubled down with the argument and added insult to injury by going on to implicitly condemn black communities for having a high rate of abortion.

Throughout the debate, Hannity who, with his own deeply troubling record on race has made something of a career of defending white folks in trouble over racial remarks, could not keep from jumping into the discussion to defend Santorum. In Part 1, Hannity “defended” Santorum by saying, “There is a racial component” to abortion because there’s a “much higher rate, five times greater” rate of abortion in black community. Near the end of that segment, Hannity brought up “the intention of Senator Santorum’s comments. Were they not meant to help save the lives of innocent unborn and especially in the black…”

Santorum interrupted. “…in the black community”

Sharpton was right on target with his criticisms. In this case, he noted that Santorum's original comments had nothing to do with high rates of abortion in black communities.

Nevertheless, Hannity and Santorum obviously thought they had seized upon a winning argument, so they repeated the “higher rate of abortion in black communities” argument a few more times in Part 2.

Santorum announced emphatically, “Three quarters of Planned Parenthood abortion clinics are in the black community!” He also cited Margaret Sanger's racist aims for birth control.

Hannity even tried to trap Sharpton by asking, “Are you concerned about the high rate of abortion in the black community?” (Sharpton adroitly responded that he was concerned about a lot of things in the black community and added, “I’m also concerned that people have the right to make choices in this country.”)

Santorum said that the “black population should be almost double what it is today… This is an issue that the black community should be concerned about.”

But if you believe that African Americans should have a special sensitivity and repulsion for abortion, as Santorum indicated (and Hannity happily seized on), then pointing to a high rate of abortion in African American communities as justification for that belief indicates at best a disdain for those same communities. It suggests that African Americans are either too ignorant or callous or depraved or corrupt to recognize such an assault on their civil rights going on right under their noses. Or worse, that blacks are somehow akin to slave owners.

Unfortunately, Sharpton seemed not to have caught that.

In any event, we can chalk up Santorum as the latest recipient of Hannity’s Republican racial rehab.

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