Saturday, January 19, 2013

Good People

Update, spurred by Sam L's comment, from hbd*chick.

I have commented before on the importance to liberals of being associated with the good people, the smart people, the right opinions.  There is a current debate that I think illustrates the cultural pivot points very well.  In the wake of Sandy Hook, and the very strenuous pronouncements by President Obama that he intends to do something, despite the opposition from all those unthinking people, the gun control debate is tending very much in the direction of new regulations.

If you read the op-eds and the comments sections, talk to your co-workers, or listen to Jon Stewart, you will have a strong impression that all the reasonable people are moving in favor of some new bans, requirements, and regulations.  It all looks rather inevitable.  They point out that the gun-supporters are yahoos, say dumb and intemperate stuff, and even the best of them aren't in the know - don't get it.  If they mention any actual factual data, it is the repeated notion that Europe, banning guns, has a lower homicide rate.

You have to go to the Dark Side, the parts of the internet that not only notices that the homicide rate is driven by black people killing each other, but mentioning, perhaps even gleefully that this is okay with them.  If you go over to Taki's Mag, and to a lesser extent Steve Sailer's blog and read the comments sections, you can find some pretty ugly stuff.

The good people seem to have facts and data about graphs, and rates, and statistics.  The ignorant racists seem to have only this prejudice and theories that Black people are behind it somehow.

But the ignorant racists have the facts on their side, at least in this instance, and the Good People are simply wrong.  People of European descent - white people - have the same homicide rate regardless of which side of the Atlantic they live on, and what the gun laws are.  They kill people at a rate of about 1 per 100,000 per year.  99.999% of them are not murderers this year.  In contrast, 99.992% of black people are not murderers.  A pretty significant majority, but still 8 times more than the Europeans.

A murder rate below 10 per 100,000 is rare, and new.  It started creeping down in NW Europe about seven centuries ago.  Because of American colonial settlement patterns, remarking on this looks like highlighting the violence of those of African descent.  It is actually the opposite, highlighting the low homicide rate of a narrow band of NW Europeans.  Eastern Europeans, South Americans, Pacific Islanders - all those are higher, closer to the world historical norm.

But the takeaway point is that the good, reasonable people happen to be wrong, and the bigots happen to be right on this particular point.  Evidence whether someone is from the cool kids or not is never a measure of truth.  The American homicide rate is 3.9 per 100,000.  Half of those homicides are by African-Americans, who are only 11-12% of the population.  Hispanics, another 11-12%, make up half of the rest.  The 75% of Americans who are Europeans by descent have a homicide rate similar to Denmark, France, Ireland, and all those other enlightened EU places we should be emulating if we wish to be civilised. No one wants to say what everyone knows.

Changing the gun laws will not affect violence very much.  This debate is entirely about which culture shall rule, and force the other to put up with its preferences.  That people don't need automatic weapons, that they are overreacting and think Obama is a communist, that school shooters and serial killers are usually white (not true, but even if it were), that they are bitter clingers, that they don't sound that smart - all this is irrelevant.

True.  Not true. The only question.

Note:  Counter-statistics should check whether they are quoting "gun deaths," rather than homicides, as discussed over at Bethany's blog recently.  "Gun deaths" includes suicides.  If eliminating those with gun control is your main goal, fine.  I might even agree and support your plan.  But if that's the case, you have to sell the point on that basis, not imply that you are talking about murder.  Similarly, if you want to advocate for gun control because you are afraid of what black people do with guns, then say so.  Don't hide behind feeling that the white yahoos are ignorant.


Sam L. said...

Something I have not seen is, what was the black murder rate in the '20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s? Was there a jump in the '60s after the War On Poverty started, and the black marriage rate took a dive and black illegitimacy rates rose?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I believe not. It is not the black homicide rate that is unusual, after all, but the inside-the-Hajnal-Line rate that is low. There are a very few other places in the world that also have low rates.

This is a lot of what Pinker's Better Angels is about.

Sam L. said...

OK, I read hbd chick, then looked up the hajnal line, and I do not understand what comment of mine influence this post. Please to enlighten this ignorant soul?

About your comment--are you saying the black murder rate has always been higher that the white? I thought the breakdown of the black family might be a cause of the higher rate.

Sam L. said...

Just to check the block for replies.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

One would think that the breakdown in family structure, and specifically the absence of dads, would increase the homicide rate. But it doesn't seem to. It may increase the rates of other crime, including violent crimes such as rape and assault.

As for the black/white breakdown, my point was that white homicide remains high in (far) Eastern Europe, or in Sicily, the southern parts of Italy and Iberia, and much of the Mediterranean. Those of African descent have somewhat worse, but not ridiculously worse, rates of homicide than everyone else in the world. It's that cohort of SOME Europeans which is ridiculously low. Those happen to be the early immigrant populations of America. American whites are not only a European, but a generally Northern and Western European, people. After Great Britain there are plenty from Germany, the Low Countries, Scandinavia, and Central Europe. Many more Poles than Russians or Belorussians and Ukrainians. There are not many from Spain or Portugal, some but not an enormous amount from southern Italy, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey. The (Yugo)slavs are largely recent.

All this to say that it is the oddness of Dutchmen, Belgians, and Englishmen that is in play here, not the oddness of black people.

SJ said...

FWIW, in the list of nations with highest rates of homicide, there are many from Central America.

See here, and note the difference between former British colonies in the Caribbean and former Spanish colonies there. Or the higher rates for Venezuela and El Salvador than for many nations of Africa.

That page also has homicide rates for regions inside the US, Canada, and some other countries. Two Canadian provinces have higher murder rates than their neighboring American states. (Compare Minnesota/North Dakota/Montana/Wyoming to Manitoba and Sasketchewan.)

Even in the Wiki article on race and crime in the U.S., it is noted that poverty correlates to crime rates more strongly than race does.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

SJ, poverty does correlate to crime more strongly in some studies, but even those, not by much.

We do tend to have more than one topic at a time going, likely my fault. Crime, violent, crime, and homicide are strongly related, but not the same.