One of the most frustrating things about being a race man is that most of America is primarily educated and convinced about comparative racial statistics based upon a theory of proportional representation. It is a fallacious line of thinking that is easily debunked in the abstract but is the sine qua non of race relations talk. Nobody seems to get it until you bring absolute numbers into consideration, but even then, it's an uphill battle, even when people suddenly realize they have nothing to talk about. In my various clumsy attempts to be both provocative and informative, I wrote something called 'Angry White Math' some decades ago. I find myself disheartened to be repeating the same syllogism in this glorious future.
The fallacious line of thinking goes like this. The incidence of X dysfunction is found in 40% of the white population of the dysfunctionals. In the black population, the same dysfunction is 25%. This indicts the black population because whites make up 75% of the general population and blacks only make up 12.5%. So then you leap to the conclusion that blacks are Y times as dysfunctional as whites, and therefore whites have something to teach blacks.
The same argument is presented on the other hand where whites are 'over-represented' and blacks are 'under-represented' and such representations are given as prima facia evidence of racist discrimination. I'm sure you are aware of a dozen examples yourself. Crack vs powder cocaine is a favorite obsession of various racial theories.
All of these arguments fall apart in their import for the races when informed by actual numbers, or they actually should. For example if you were to take notice that the actual number of black Americans who do smoke crack is somewhere around 10,000 you should recognize that this number of criminal addicts could not possibly represent the habits of 40 million. So why would we call this black criminality? And who indeed is responsible for this criminality? The criminals themselves, that is unless you have a racial theory to prove, in which case you will determine that black crack addicts are White People's Fault or that they are Black People's Fault. Why? Because we can never 'blame the victim'. And thus the maddening illogic continues to misinform reasonable politics. Somehow in America we have not bothered to debunk this magical thinking because, as I said, without it we can't talk about race any longer. Since most Americans love to talk about race, as its painful indictments seem to give its specious conclusions the feeling of harsh truth, the bodewash continues.
So it really doesn't come as a surprise that the current outrage over the deaths of some 420 black Americans last year at the hands of police across the USA has given all of this bent logic a fresh new arena in which to wreak havoc and even to go beyond the significance of the paltry numbers. It thusly doesn't matter how few, so long as black deaths are disproportionate, it's an affront to racial equality and therefore people claim their rights to be hostile. This is the logic of snipers, whether or not they are card carrying members of BLM or under direct orders from its leadership. It's not the weapon, it's not the telephone conversation. It's the twisted logic. It always has been and it always will be. Those who accept this line of thinking are all witless collaborators who merely lack the bias for revolutionary action.
Fortunately, we have those within our midst who have the foresight and the ability to do the proper counting. Heather Mac Donald give us all the opportunity to test our stomach for racial theories. She is guest blogging the topics of her book 'Are Cops Racist?' this week at Volokh. She comes right out with it:
In America’s 75 largest counties, comprising most of the nation’s population, blacks constituted 62 percent of all robbery defendants in 2009, 57 percent of all murder defendants, and 45 percent of all assault defendants — but roughly 15 percent of the population in those counties. In New York, where blacks make up 23 percent of the city’s population, blacks commit three-quarters of all shootings and 70 percent of all robberies, according to victims and witnesses. (Whites, by contrast, commit less than 2 percent of all shootings in New York City and 4 percent of all robberies, though they are nearly 34 percent of the population.)
New York City’s crime disparities are repeated in virtually all American metropolises. They will determine where officers are most often called to a drive-by shooting or an armed robbery, and where officers are most likely to face violent and resisting criminals — encounters which can lead to officers’ own use of deadly force. Police critics have never answered the question of what they think non-biased policing data should look like, in light of the vast differences in rates of criminal offending. Blacks commit homicide at nearly eight times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined. Black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit gun homicide at nearly 10 times the rate of white and Hispanic male teens combined. Should police stops, arrests and those rare police shootings nevertheless mirror population ratios, rather than crime ratios? The answer is not forthcoming from Black Lives Matter activists.
Two decades ago when Pat Buchannan produced this kind of statistical evidence to prove that:
- Blacks commit 8 times more assaults than do Whites.
- Blacks commit 9 times more rapes than Whites.
- Blacks commit 14 times more murders.
- Blacks commit 19 times more armed robberies.
Everybody immediately understood that he was using the bad examples of the few to stain the reputations of the many. It was clearly racist.
There are virtually no black Americans who would take this disproportionate count of perpetrators to suggest that the black race ought to be held to a different standard of scrutiny by law enforcement or judges. And yet there are many who take the 'War on Drugs' as defacto evidence that there actually is some form of genocide against the race going on at the hands of the government. It's obvious to me that this is wanting it both ways. What it is not saying is that criminals are getting busted and that's the end of it, because saying so would destroy the lie that white cops and other government forces are trolling for black bodies to destroy. It would take away the racist conspiracy theory that informs so much of American politics. Heaven forbid. In short, the fallacious reasoning of racial disproportion indicating racism, is what underpins what much of today's discussion about race. What happens to some fraction of people who are identified by race doesn't say anything about the race unless it's clearly the majority of the race. It is only when people take that twisted logical leap and stand 'in solidarity' with the odd fraction as if they had no choice that the real racism begins. In that arena nobody 'happens to be', everyone gets locked into zero sum conflict.
Looking at Mac Donald's indictment one simply has to say that criminals are criminals and most people are not criminals. It's obvious that the overwhelming majority of people are not criminal. The question then becomes, to what extent are people willing to suggest and agree that criminal culture is real and that for the sake of racial politics, it is overlooked or forgiven?
Related posts about Statistical Morality: