May 03, 2023
A central conundrum of the 2020s is why respectable opinion has gotten so out of touch with reality on questions touching race, such as crime. Are mainstream pundits lying, intimidated, deluded, hate-filled, or just stupid?
It’s an important and difficult question.
I ponder this because I’ve developed a reputation as the go-to guy on Twitter when celebrities say something smugly stupid about crime statistics. Most every day I see a tweet summoning me by showing Batman staring up at the Bat-Signal of my avatar, the 18th hole at Cypress Point Golf Club. (Yeah, it’s pretty cool.)
Still, that’s weird when you think about it. I know far more about, say, baseball stats than I do about crime stats. But there must be 10,000 or 100,000 guys who know more about baseball numbers than I do, and they’re all willing to speak up. (Just ask them.)
In contrast, we have the entire academic specialty of criminology, along with adjacent fields such as sociology and political science. But it’s hard to get a straight story out of any but a literal handful of them on this decade’s big topic of race and crime. So nobody seems to know anything.
For instance, last week, MSNBC talking head Mehdi Hasan, author of the New York Times best-seller Win Every Argument, became outraged that comedian Bill Maher had pointed out the high rate of black-on-black killings in Chicago. Hasan tweeted:
White people kill other white people at almost the same rate black people kill other black people & yet you never hear anyone complaining about ‘white on white crime.’ These aren’t points of sage wisdom from Maher. They are classic racist dog whistles.
(One of these days, some progressive is going to notice that the dog whistle was invented by Sir Francis Galton, who also invented eugenics.)
Obviously, it’s not true that “white people kill other white people at almost the same rate black people kill other black people.” The fundamental reality of American criminal justice is that black people kill at a huge rate, even compared to Hispanics, much less whites or Asians.
In 2021, for instance, the FBI reported that blacks made up 60.4 percent of all known homicide offenders (a new record—apparently, something went very wrong in America on May 25, 2020).
There are several ways to define the black share of the population. The broadest (including multiracials and black Hispanics) gives the 2020 Census black share as 14.2 percent. Hence, that still means the other 85.8 percent of the population accounted for only 39.6 percent of known homicide offenders.
The math therefore says that African Americans murder at a rate 9.2 times that of America’s nonblacks.
Unfortunately, the FBI statistics are pretty worthless at drilling down to anything less expansive than “nonblack.” The FBI unhelpfully lumps Asians and American Indians, two groups with extremely different behavior patterns, into the “Other” category. And the FBI data is woozy because many police departments still don’t break Hispanics out from “Caucasians” in their statistics.
Perhaps surprisingly, this is not some recent woke conspiracy to cover up Latino crime. Instead, it derives from 1950s–1960s colorblind liberalism, when Latin American lobbies demanded that their constituents be included in the government’s broad Caucasian racial category.
So, many police departments went along with this demand. Then, when racial quotas began in 1969, Latino lobbies reversed course and demanded to be broken out so that they could get affirmative action.
Almost all government agencies eventually complied. But there was little call from ethnic activists for identifying their Hispanic criminals, so many local police departments never got around to it, because cops seldom are data nerds. Hence, the FBI statistics aggregated from thousands of police departments across the country are still confused on the white vs. Hispanic question.
Therefore, the best way to work with FBI numbers is simply to compare black and nonblack.
In contrast, the vast medical profession long ago got on board with the federal government’s current standard race/ethnicity categories. Thus, the CDC’s cause-of-death database lets you compare non-Hispanic white versus non-Hispanic black deaths by homicide.
The downside of the CDC numbers is that, unlike the FBI’s, they make no attempt to determine who shot whom. But, assuming that most victims of homicide, other than Asians, are killed by their co-racials, the CDC stats are still highly useful best-case scenarios about America’s race problem.
In 2021, blacks died 10.7 times as often by homicide as non-Hispanic whites and 14.5 times as often due to gun homicides. In 2021, 60.7 percent of all those who died by being shot by somebody else were black.
When this kind of data was pointed out to Hasan, he responded by quoting a USA Today article:
“Rates of white-on-white and Black-on-Black homicide are similar, at around 80% and 90%. Overall, most homicides in the United States are intraracial, and the rates of white-on-white and Black-on-Black killings are similar.”
There are multiple sophistries going on here.
First and most important, Hasan started out complaining that Maher talked about black-on-black crime, but now Hasan is switching to emphasizing the relatively low rate of interracial crime. In reality, blacks kill about an order of magnitude more than non-Hispanic whites.
Ben Sixsmith snarked in response:
The same proportion of Japanese murder victims are killed by Japanese people as Venezuelan victims are killed by Venezuelan people—so when you think about it, Caracas is just as safe as Tokyo.
Second, it’s more informative to subtract both cited percentages from 100 percent to see what percentage were the victims of a different race. With these numbers, you can see that white victims were twice as likely to be killed by a different race than were black victims.
Third, due to the FBI’s Hispanic confusion, when an MS-13 gangbanger kills a white junkie, it’s counted as white-on-white, so the percentage of non-Hispanic white victims killed by another non-Hispanic white is lower than stated.
When I pointed out the facts to Hasan, the author of Win Every Argument despaired and blocked me.
But the bigger question is why are so many well-platformed opinionators like Hasan so wrong about these basic facts of American life?
Are they actually well-informed about crime statistics and are intentionally trying to mislead the public?
Or are they just flat-out ignorant? But then, how do they function in daily life, such as deciding where to buy housing or send their kids to school?
In reality, they seem to function extremely well. Only the “awkward squad” notices the contradiction between mundane realities and the implausible assumptions of media discourse.
Another possibility is bottom-up intimidation. Say that you are a TV personality with several staffers. You know the truth about why blacks die so much more by murder, but you have a black woman intern who insists that you do a story about how blacks must be getting gunned down by whites in vast numbers.
You might disagree. You might even have some evidence to the contrary. But you have to ask yourself: Is this really worth losing my awesome TV job over?
Blacks are being murdered by whites in vast numbers.
Or perhaps the spokespersons are motivated by racist hate? Many media celebrities like Mehdi Hasan seem to think like this: “I am filled with hate toward the white race, ergo, logic proves that whites are hateful. After all, it couldn’t have anything to do with me wanting to dispossess them of their nice country that my people have flagrantly failed to create.”
My best guess is that this decade’s efflorescence of antiwhite racist hate is the inevitable result of the grand strategy of the Democratic Party: assemble a Coalition of the Margins of American society and keep them from turning on each other viciously by inciting them to come together to loathe Core Americans.
Partisan politics might seem like a pretty trivial justification for this degree of lowbrow hate, but, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”