David French(1), of National Review, has penned an essay that sums up quite well our thoughts concerning race relations, crime and the police, here at our small, but increasingly influential think tank. Here’s a link to that essay.
As most of you know, we’ve gone back and forth with Brothawolf (BW) from time to time over the past few years. This interaction has consisted mainly of our positing a bunch of ideas, on the above-mentioned topics, with BW’s response being to call us names, and to suggest that black people should be able to accuse white people of all manner of perfidy without any evidence whatsoever.
BW is a bigot whose ideas are ugly. He thinks — and has admitted it freely! — that all white people think alike, all while insisting that black people are all very different from one another. It would be difficult to find a more classic definition for racism than that. It would be difficult to find a better example of the word “bigot” than that. You’d be hard-pressed to locate a better example of “Race Supremacist” than that.
BW seems incapable of understanding that there are people — of all ethnicities — who have understandings different from, and sometimes in sharp disagreement with, his personal stereotypes. If, however, BW has the courage (not at all a sure thing!) to read a writer who’s sympathetic to his point of view, but has other very much challenging perspectives, then we are now going to… Educate Brothawolf.
This will give BW some much-needed insight into white thinking. Yes, David French is a white man. Yes, many, many white people think like this. The majority? Who knows?
Here are some important passages from French’s essay:
- Let’s start with the easiest assertion: The existence of outrageous killings (such as the police shootings of Philando Castile, Walter Scott, and Botham Shem Jean) is no more evidence of systemic racist targeting of black men than the existence of hoaxes (such as “hands up, don’t shoot” or the claim that Charlotte’s Keith Lamont Scott was killed while holding a book) debunks claims of comprehensive racial bias.In other words, it’s a big country. Activists can always find individual stories to support larger claims, but the individual stories do not render the larger claims true. Since 2015 — when the Washington Post began keeping an invaluable database of police shootings — we have vastly more information than we used to possess. And that information is both troubling and reassuring.
We’ve long said these very things! Individual stories, no matter how egregious, mean nothing in the larger context. As French says, “It’s a big country.” Or: “the individual stories do not render the larger claims true.”
Here’s some more from David French’s essay:
- Here’s the troubling part. Police kill far more people than we thought. The FBI had long undercounted police shootings, and it took news organizations — employing better methodology — to get more accurate information. If you survey the Post data, as of today, police have shot and killed 3,648 men, women, and children since January 1, 2015.
Wow! Ouch! 3,648 people killed by police in a bit more than three years! Double ouch! I mean it. I absolutely do not type the word “ouch” unseriously. That’s three thousand, six hundred, forty-eight lives lost, presumably for a completely preventable reason! Each one a tragedy of infinite proportions.(2)
Here’s another salient point from the above-linked essay by David French:
- Yet there are silver linings in those dark clouds. Shootings of unarmed men dominate headlines, but they (thankfully) represent a small slice of the whole pie. The high was 9 percent in 2015. Since then the percentage has decreased to 5 percent in 2016, 7 percent in 2017, and 5 percent (so far) in 2018. In the vast majority of cases, police were confronting armed men, and while not every shooting of an armed man is justified (just as not every shooting of an unarmed man is unjustified), it is just not the case that the police have truly declared “open season” on anyone.
A couple of important points are in this paragraph:
- Shootings of unarmed men are decreasing.
- Shootings of unarmed men are a tiny percentage of all police shootings.
- The “open season” talking point is hogwash.
- What’s not in this statistic is important too: What’s the racial breakdown of that five to nine percent? Surely it’s known. The fact that the Washington Post’s “database” doesn’t reveal that, indicates that the actual data doesn’t support the “open season on black men” narrative.
Let’s see if the author’s next passage clears things up a bit.
- Moreover, while it is very true that black men represent a disproportionate share of police-shooting victims relative to their share of the general population, it is much less clear that they represent a disproportionate share of victims relative to their share of the criminal population. A population that’s more likely to engage in violent crime is more likely to encounter the police in dangerous and fraught circumstances. (The vast majority of black men are law-abiding, but black men are still far more likely to commit crimes such as murder or armed robbery than whites.)
Okay. That does clear things up a bit.
As it turns out, “black men represent a disproportionate share of police-shooting victims relative to their share of the general population” But… “they [black men] represent a disproportionate share of victims relative to their share of the criminal population.” Why? Here’s at least one answer: “black men are still far more likely to commit crimes such as murder or armed robbery than whites.“
This seems to say that black men are “over-represented” in the ranks of the incarcerated, as well as in the numbers of those who lose their lives when there is a “police-involved” shooting. However, it also seems, black men are over-represented in the population of those who commit violent crimes. In other words, black men disproportionately cause the situations that lead to their own deaths.
In that case, it would seem obvious that one would expect to find disproportionately more black men incarcerated in the American prison system; as well as more black men dead in the streets of American cities at the hands of the police. Which doesn’t change the fact that this is a horrific American tragedy.
Here’s an important bottom line: It would seem that black men hold the power to prevent police-involved shootings of… black men.
Here’s some more from David French’s National Review piece:
- When controlling for the facts and circumstances of individual encounters, the picture gets more complex. For example, in a widely reported 2016 study of 1,000 shootings in ten major police departments, Harvard economics professor Roland Fryer found that police were materially more likely to use nondeadly force against black men, but “in stark contrast to nonlethal uses of force, we find that, conditional on a police interaction, there are no racial differences in officer-involved shootings.”
Well… that’s important! Let’s read it again: police were materially more likely to use nondeadly force against black men.
Did you read that okay, BW?
Then: “there are no racial differences in officer-involved shootings.”
Oops! BW: Did you see that? Maybe it makes sense to repeat it: there are no racial differences in officer-involved shootings.
The source is the leftist New York Times. Are you going to use a better source. BW? I mean, I used a hard-core leftist source! That ought to be good enough for you!
‘Nuff said? Nope. Not nearly enough. How about this:
[Black men and women] are more likely to be touched, handcuffed, pushed to the ground or pepper-sprayed by a police officer, even after accounting for how, where and when they encounter the police.
But when it comes to the most lethal form of force — police shootings — the study finds no racial bias.
No one (including the author of the study) claims this is the definitive study of police violence, but note how it gives both sides of the debate food for thought. The “blue lives matter” defenders of police should engage in serious soul-searching about the evidence of bias in nonlethal force. Black Lives Matters activists engaging in “open season” rhetoric should perhaps rethink their most extreme claims.
Well! The New York Times! A bastion of the Left admits that what we said is true! Which was: no racial bias in police shootings!
- So I’ve set out to rectify that imbalance. A person can walk and chew gum at the same time. One can rightly condemn riots and radicalism while also noting that each time a bad cop walks free it damages the fabric of trust between the government and its citizens. One can rightly say that it’s not “open season” on black men — or that any given inflammatory allegation has been thoroughly debunked — while also noting that the same DOJ that refuted “hands up, don’t shoot” also found evidence of systematic police misconduct in Ferguson.
Here are the important parts of this passage:
- “One can rightly condemn riots and radicalism while also noting that each time a bad cop walks free it damages the fabric of trust between the government and its citizens.”
- Our comment: Ummmm… Yep. The problem is that the bias in the media is to convict any cop before he or she is given any due process. This seems to be matched by a counter-bias in the courts. Both biases are wrong. The most egregious of these biases, though, is the one in the press. Why? Simple: the very mission of the press is to report what’s true. A bias in the courts in favor of a defendant is not necessarily a bad thing. For example it’s how the apparently guilty O.J. Simpson was not found guilty of double murder. In America, we have a precious legal premise: any defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Far, far worse than a presumption of innocence in the courts, would be a presumption of guilt. The presumption of a defendant’s guilt happens in totalitarian hellholes.
- “One can rightly say that it’s not “open season” on black men — or that any given inflammatory allegation has been thoroughly debunked — while also noting that the same DOJ that refuted “hands up, don’t shoot” also found evidence of systematic police misconduct in Ferguson.”
- Our Comment: In other words: the cops in Ferguson, MO were not perfect, but the Michael Brown incident was not a problem of bad policing in Ferguson. As it turns out, Michael Brown was nothing but a petty, little thug who thought he could get away with charging directly at an armed police officer. I wish — a thousand times, I wish — that Michael Brown had had a chance to grow up and regret the stupid decisions of his youth, but Darren Wilson was right to engage Brown. There’s just no getting away from that!
Here’s some more from David French:
- Most cops do what’s right. Many cops are extraordinarily brave. But I also think the best evidence indicates that race is more of a factor in modern policing than I wanted to believe. I also think a pro-police bias has infected our criminal-justice system — including the way juries decide cases — and that pro-police bias has helped bad cops walk free. Moreover, there are legal doctrines that need to be reformed or abolished (such as qualified immunity, but that explanation requires a whole separate piece). And there should be a culture change in the way officers are taught to perceive risk, a culture change that thoughtful veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars could help initiate.
The author concludes with this:
- Riots are vicious and wrong. Cop-killers are depraved. We should defend, not disrupt, the nuclear family. We should tell the truth even when the truth hurts our own side. Racism still plagues our land, and race too often plays a pernicious role in American policing. It is not “open season” on black men, yet too many bad cops go free, and too many black men die at the hands of the state. Our laws and culture grant the men in blue too much latitude and too many privileges. All of these things can be true at the same time. All of them are true at the same time. It’s the immense and monumental American challenge that we must deal with them all at once.
It might be instructive to see that last paragraph as bullet points, with additional commentary in red:
- Riots are vicious and wrong. Yep
- Cop-killers are depraved. Agreed
- We should defend, not disrupt, the nuclear family. Bingo!
- We should tell the truth even when the truth hurts our own side. Double Bingo!
- Racism still plagues our land, and race too often plays a pernicious role in American policing. This is a somewhat sloppy sentence. I disagree that “racism still plagues our land,” — in the sense of having a negative effect on black people — as the context of French’s essay implies. However, every time racism enters into human interactions, it is, indeed, a terrible thing. The racism that, indeed, “plagues our land,” that remains a big problem today, comes from the so-called “Peoples-of-Color,” and is directed at white people. Let’s be frank, though. There is racism among white people, and it is a problem. However, it’s gone underground, and has very little effect on human interactions. I converse about this with a lot of white people, and they all say that they act with “extreme caution” when dealing with black or brown people. At least in a corporate context. White people have been trained to understand that the least little careless word that launches the least little HR claim can kill a promising career. Racism is a state of mind. By legislating and punishing behaviors, you always have the unintended consequence of pushing the state of mind that drives the behaviors, underground, as has happened in America. However, the bottom line remains true: white hostility toward black or brown people is not a big problem for black or brown people in America today. In other words, If, as a black or brown person, you get an education, speak well, work hard, get along well with people, and present yourself more or less normally, then you will face no more obstacles to your success in America than anyone else.
- It is not “open season” on black men. As we’ve often said.
- Yet too many bad cops go free. This is not something we’ve often said, but it’ rings true. Again, though, it’s important to read our above comment regarding the presumption of innocence. We weaken that only at extreme peril to civilization. The presumption of innocence is one of the greatest, most civilizing, freedom-enhancing innovations ever to come out of Western Civilization.
- Too many black men die at the hands of the state. Agreed, and there’s a whole lot more that needs to be said on this topic. Much will buttress what we’ve said in these pages, and much will support what BW says. It’s a big country!
- Our laws and culture grant the men in blue too much latitude and too many privileges. Same comment as the one two bullet points above.
And, David French’s conclusion:
- All of these things can be true at the same time. All of them are true at the same time. It’s the immense and monumental American challenge that we must deal with them all at once.
(1) The author is David French, with whose thinking I’m very much in agreement — but I don’t much like his writing. I’m hoping that will change soon, as I read him more. I am, however, a big fan of National Review writers, Kevin Williamson, Jonah Goldberg, Victor Davis Hanson, Jay Nordlinger, Katherine Timpf, Rich Lowry — because I agree with them, and like their writing styles. I like many more, but those are a pretty good bunch for now.
(2) Yes , I betray my Christian principles here. Okay. Doesn’t bother me a bit.