The first section is mostly boilerplate. I think it is entertainingly-written boilerplate that contains useful information, but those in a hurry might skip straight to "Motives."
It is widely believed that the police unfairly target black people. It is demonstrably untrue, has been untrue for a few decades, and that information has not been kept secret. The general outlines are easily known, and I am told that for a person willing to put in the work, there is data available precinct by precinct and even officer by officer with no special permissions on the internet. I decided yesterday morning to post on this topic, and before nightfall there was a new article about this very thing, by Rick Lowry over at National Review: "The Cops Shoot People of Different Races for the Same Reasons." That article links to the Washington Post Database on fatal shootings over the last few years. You will note that The WaPo is not generally regarded as an alt-right publication.
The Post does what it can to misrepresent the data in the service of its preferred narrative, such as noting that proportionately, blacks are shot twice as often as whites. It leaves out the fact that the black violent crime rate is 4-16x higher, so having only twice as many shootings is evidence of the opposite possibility - that blacks are less targeted, or that the police are ultra-cautious about shooting them. (Note: people claim that one can lie with statistics, but I continue to maintain that statistics tell the truth if you grab them by the collar, shove them up against the wall, and make them tell you who their associates are. As above. The violent crime breakdown is an associate of the original claim.) Once one knows the underlying data, the evasions by the House Organ of the Federal Government fairly leap out at one. Something similar happened in the investigation into the police practices in Ferguson, MO. Eric Holder and Barack Obama both announced that the department was racist before the investigation was even commissioned, and after the report came out those two worthies claimed that their predictions had been borne out. Arrests of blacks were six times higher.
But the amount of violent crime by blacks was ten times higher, maybe twelve. So six times the arrests is actually evidence that more were going uncaught. This is a nationwide pattern, largely because people in the neighborhood are petrified to testify. Not as bad as in Mexico, but like that. The extremely high black-white rate comes from the particular demographics of the city. It used to be white decades ago, but black people moved in. Therefore, the white people were older, the black people younger, reflecting another known crime statistic: violence is for the young. When those black people are old, their crime rate will be low as well. In fact the crime rate for elderly blacks is not that different than elderly whites - only about double.
The New York Times, the New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, HuffPo, NPR - just about everyone, really - has run similar hard-data reports. This can only be spun so much. One can go to the FBI website or other government or data-collecting agencies and see for yourself. There are books, podcasts, print magazines that will point out the base difference in violent crime rates, which is enormous. That is always the background against which the arrest rates must be photographed. Everyone in America has heard this, or has had decent opportunity to, even if they don't have a conservative relative sending them angry emails all year.
Yet most revert to believing the opposite. What other possible reason could there be for going out to a George Floyd protest, except that one believes that there is something deeply wrong with police practices WRT African-Americans, and wants to take a stand against this sort of government behavior.? Quick Note: The view offered by many, particularly on the libertarian or left-right extremes, that the police have generally bad behavior with all citizens, whether by attitude or training, looks promising for national unity but goes nowhere. The libertarians were the first to explode on the internet about what the hell city police forces were doing with that sort of military hardware in Missouri, but that is 99.9% forgotten now. Wrong narrative.
Why is this?
Why do intelligent, well-meaning people keep doing this? It makes no logical sense, but it happens so much more than its opposite that it must have some meaning.
More boilerplate: I don't think it is valid to guess at the motives of individuals. We are complicated, we have mixed motives, we have pieces to our story that others cannot see. However, I do think it is fair to guess at the weight of motives in groups. For any given position, out of a hundred people, 30 might be making some money off the deal and that might be 10% -90% of their motive. 20 (perhaps overlapping) might have been raised to a particular value and feel a loyalty that is 3%-30% of their motive. 50 might believe that the Good People hold the position and want to be counted among them, accounting for 25-75% each of their motive. We can only make estimates, but we can hear what people say, read what they tweet, watch who they insult, or look at their long-term actions such as where they work or where they spend their money.
It is an evil thing to accuse the individuals are acting from bad motive without clear evidence, but it is not evil to set out the data and ask each individual to judge themselves - and for us to judge the group's actions.
With that in mind...
Some people do not believe statistics. I keep forgetting that wide swaths of the population do not like numbers and think of statistics as a word meaning "tricky ways people disguise the truth." Caution is laudable, yet they seem to really not understand that a statistic about 400 police shootings and fatalities means 400 actual dead people, who had families that went to funerals where the aunties cried and the schoolmates looked stricken. Therefore, they have a reflexive response to statement about research, graphs, or statistics that says "You must be lying or you wouldn't be hiding behind numbers like that. I will believe my story instead." While I find this to be almost universal among people of low intelligence, even those who agree with me and willingly vote the way I'd like, it is true of a frightening number of intelligent folk as well. Yet many of those are high SATV low SATM, which I also forget - among psychologists, social workers, journalists, pastors, and a dozen other professions - but even that isn't all of it. Even a few of the engineers and doctors, just reject things out of hand.
This is not where I intended to go with this post, but the longer I looked at it, the more I saw it was pertinent. The people at your church rely on the CNN/NBC/NPR narrative about police shootings as if it is still 1957? The first explanation may be that they can't do math, and the second may be that they won't do math because it makes their ears buzz.
It used to be true 60-160 years ago and is still presented as true in movies, news sources, on TV and the entirety of upper-class media. In some sense it is a cultural universal that is deeply embedded in the American understanding of ourselves. To give it up would not only involve thinking hard now, it would involve giving up a foundational belief and once that happens, who knows what other once-sure beliefs might suddenly come into question? There is a liberal conservatism that has held certain beliefs since the 1960s and never seriously questioned them. While this is stronger in my own generation for the obvious reason that we were there, it was also effectively passed down somewhat to subsequent generations I have known liberals 10-30 years younger than me who have openly said they were sad that they missed being there for the 60s, meaning not only the music, the changes, and the excitement, but being part of the birth of Woodstock Nation. My younger brother has mentioned to me a few times how proud he is to be part of the first generation that got it right, and sees no reason to abandon any of the beliefs he held when he was 16. In Massachusetts. These are part of who he is. His very identity is tied up with these things. Where he has changed, it is entirely along the lines of doubling down. The fall of the Iron Curtain and what we learned is long since gone from his consciousness.
I have not yet even gotten to the motives that occurred to me on my walks yesterday and today, the sort of insight that is more common in current analysis online. But I think it is worth temporarily stopping here, for folks who are used to these speculations to step back and fit these two in. I will pick up on the other ideas tomorrow, but try these two on and estimate what percentage of folks who just don't or won't get it are involved nationwide. They can't do math, and they fear giving up a key piece of traditional liberal ideology. That may be more of the explanation than we have heretofore credited.
I have had some conversations that wedged when the other insisted (though in not so many words) that dealing with abstract numbers was a denial of the human pain in the situations they represented.
Never mind that the reactions _they_ had also involved abstractions.
The Actual Number of Unarmed Black Men Shot and Killed By Police Every Year Will Blow Liberals’ Minds.
Most Americans are convinced there is an “epidemic” of police shooting unarmed black males in America. This widespread misperception is reinforced with misreportage, sensationalized reportage, missing context, and the lack of reporting on analogous cases.
In February, a survey was released that showed how many adults overestimate the number of adult unarmed black males were killed by police officers in 2019 (the last year with full data available). The Skeptic Research Center published the results, which were broken down by political ideology. A chart based on these responses is posted below:
The bars are color-coded to reflect the estimation in each political ideology category. Very Liberal respondents were the furthest from reality: 14.29% said ‘about 10,000’ unarmed black males were killed by police, while 31.43% said ‘about 1,000.’ Liberals were slightly closer at 6.67% saying ‘about 10,000’ and 26.67% saying ‘about 1,000.’ According to the database at Mapping Police Violence, this number was actually 27.
I checked the Mapping Police Violence website. I couldn't get the end of year data from the graph- it stopped giving YTD figures in late October- so I figured out how to download the data.Here's what I got. I didn't get precisely the same number (27), but close enough for government work, as they say.
Unarmed Blacks Killed by Police
Year race Number Killed
2013 Black 51
2014 Black 62
2015 Black 78
2016 Black 40
2017 Black 48
2018 Black 30
2019 Black 30
2020 Black 34
Unarmed Blacks as percent of unarmed people that police killed
BTW, those percentages are lower than blacks as killers of policemen.FBI: Table 42_ Law Enforcement Officers Feloniously Killed From 2010-2019, blacks constituted 37% of Felonious Killings of Law Enforcement Officers.
This suggests a parlor exercise for our liberal friends. Hand out pieces of paper, on which they put down their estimate of police killings per year of unarmed blacks. Then collect the pieces of paper, and read them out- all anonymous. Then give the most recent data: 30-34 for 2018-2020.
Some of the reactions will probably be like james has described.
Never mind that the reactions _they_ had also involved abstractions.
But there are good abstractions and there are bad abstractions. You know, of course, who they believe has good abstractions.
@ Richard - I also notice that the numbers and percentages have been going steadily down, and were much better in the Trump era than the Obama era. That is not to say that either president had any significant effect on the numbers, but only to show that the myth of a deteriorating racist world under Trump is not so, at least by this measure.
And maybe those are the only sorts of numbers that will work among people who aren't comfortable thinking with numbers. To just say "went down," "cut by 25%,' "doubled," or such very basic arithmetic terms. They can do arithmetic, of course, calculating a tip or estimating how many hot dogs they will need, and likely even some more complicated things in their individual jobs. But somehow those don't seem to be a reality to them.
"...and before nightfall there was a new article about this very thing, by Rick Lowry over at National Review: "The Cops Shoot People of Different Races for the Same Reasons." That article links to the Washington Post Database on fatal shootings over the last few years. You will note that The WaPo is not generally regarded as an alt-right publication." I haven't read the National Review since the summer of 2017 when it/they went all NEVER TRUMP on us. And as I call the WaPo the WaPoo, I wouldn't believe anything it prints.
RE: Believing Untrue Things
Personal experience: had an office worker working for me who was the wife of a Sheriff's deputy. She had been married to him for well over a decade when I hired her and worked for me for about five years until I retired. The woman was a talker and freely expressed her overriding fear of being a cop's wife: becoming a widow. She said the her husband shared that fear with her.
That Whites seriously entertain the plausibility of Cops targeting Black suspects demonstrates the power of propaganda whose origin is said to have come from the Frankfurt School (of Marxism) before WW2 and has continued to the present day. The higher the educational level the more effective has been the effect on Whites. Under such a sustained assault Whites have placed Blacks under a protective cocoon of low expectations, the need to sacrifice for Black benefit, and excuse making for Blacks lack of success.
But Blacks are under no such illusions. Blacks may have as a group a low mean IQ but they have an animal shrewdness and are happy to take the largess bestowed upon them from the foolish whites. From the Black point of view a Black mother explains American reality:
A young Black pre-teen kid asks his mother,
"Mama, what is Socialism and what is Racism?”
"Well, Child.....Socialism is when the white folks work every day so we can get all our governmental entitlement stuff for free. You know.....like our free cell phones for each family member, rent subsidy, food stamps, EBT, WIC, free school breakfast, lunch, and in some places supper; free healthcare, utility subsidy, and a Riot every now and then so we can loot..it’s like shopping for free, and on and on.....you know, that’s Socialism.”
"But, mama, don't the white people get pissed off about that?”
"Sure they do, Honey. That's called Racism.”
(Never was it more simply explained)
@ Dan - It is interesting that the only black people I know who have acted that way and espoused those ideas were psychiatric patients, who don't really count in that sort of evaluation. This being New Hampshire, I knew lots more white people like that. Especially from certain towns.
We may fall victim to the same news bias on black misbehavior that the nation does on police targeting: it only takes a few incidents a year to confirm biases.
Most of everyone is decent enough, hardworking enough, agreeable enough. Their tribes of origin wouldn't have survived otherwise, having killed each other longer ago.
Related: You might like Grim's recent post on "Is Rioting a Valid Form of Protest?" The black people come off looking a lot more reasonable than the young white ones on that video.
I think a lot of the issue here also comes from the nationalization of news reporting. Statistically, 35 people out of 300 million+ isn't that big a number (though obviously every unnecessary death is a tragedy). But for a media looking for an easy story to write that confirms an existing narrative, it makes sense that they want to share broadly. And if 35 unarmed people were killed in my town or even county in a year, it would be an epidemic. So my guess is that people think about it that same way- "Geez, there was just one of these 2 weeks ago! What the heck is going on? This is a big problem!" Orders of magnitude are difficult for people to understand, so it feels representative of a huge issue.
@AVI - spot on in response to Dan.
AVI replying to Dan:
It is interesting that the only black people I know who have acted that way and espoused those ideas were psychiatric patients, who don't really count in that sort of evaluation. This being New Hampshire, I knew lots more white people like that. Especially from certain towns.
Certain towns- such as college towns (Durham, Hanover) or towns with a lot of former Massachusetts residents.
Another aspect is the perceived purpose of the "other".
If aliens from Neptune landed in New York and vaporized 35 random people, we'd take that very badly--never mind that 35 isn't a huge number. Our first reaction would be to assume they would do much worse if they had the capability--rather like 9/11. (If Ben Laden had nukes, he'd have used them, and through his allies in Pakistan he'd have probably gotten them.)
OTOH, if 35 people are killed by hit-and-run drivers, we assume all malice is individual, and promise we'll go after them harder.
OTTH, if 35 people die in auto crashes, we don't notice. "Shouldn't be driving in ice..."
Unarmed Blacks as percent of unarmed people that police killed
2013 32.7% ...
That is a significantly higher percentage than their proportion of the population. It is probably related to the higher number of police interactions with blacks. These deaths represent only a tiny portion of the interactions blacks have with police.
The number of unarmed blacks killed by police in the 2010s is comparable to the number of blacks lynched in the 1910s. Were the number of lynchings of blacks in the 1910s inconsequential, or were they indicative of a more general oppression?
Dan Kurt: The woman was a talker and freely expressed her overriding fear of being a cop's wife: becoming a widow.
Being a police officer is not as dangerous as being a farmer or delivery driver, but more dangerous than being a maintenance worker or teacher.
Dan Kurt: Blacks may have as a group a low mean IQ but they have an animal shrewdness ...
Assistant Village Idiot responded to your, um, story, more adequately than we could have done.
james: If aliens from Neptune landed in New York and vaporized 35 random people, we'd take that very badly ...OTOH, if 35 people are killed by hit-and-run drivers, we assume all malice is individual, and promise we'll go after them harder. OTTH, if 35 people die in auto crashes, we don't notice. "Shouldn't be driving in ice..."
Post a Comment