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.