One talking point on the political right is that the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is causally responsible for an increase in crime. This point has been made by such sources as the National Review and Bill O’Reilly. As would be suspected, those to the left of the right have denied this connection and, of course, BLM has denied this claim.
In general terms, BLM is alleged to make two major contributions to crime. The first is in regards to videos: BLM encourages citizens to take videos of the police and also supports the release of police videos. These videos are said to create what is known as the ‘Laquan McDonald Effect.’ Laquan McDonald was a 17-year-old black man who was killed by officer Jason Van Dyke. The police video shows the officer shooting McDonald 16 times as he was moving away from the officers. McDonald was holding a small knife; as such he was technically armed. The effect of this video and the following protests, it is claimed, was to cause officers to step down in their policing out of fear of being the next Van Dyke. For example, police in Chicago reduced their street stops by 80%. This reduction in policing is supposed to contribute to the increase in crime (or at least fail to address the increase).
The second is in regards to the protesting against the police. One alleged impact is that the hostility towards the police damages their morale and this negatively impacts how they do their jobs. In the face of weakened policing, crime increases. Another alleged impact is that the police are burdened by dealing with BLM protests and this pulls away resources, thus allowing crime to increase. There are also the assertions that BLM engages in criminal activities (under the guise of protesting) and that it encourages or inspires (intentionally or not) criminal activity.
The hypothesis that BLM has a causal role in the increase of crime is certainly something that should be given due consideration. Those that already think it does would presumably want confirmation and those who disagree would want it to be disproven. Naturally, many people see BLM through the lens of ideology and proof contrary to their views could merely cause them to double down on their claims. However, those willing to accept reason should be prepared for the possibility they will need to adjust their views in the face of adequate evidence.
As some people see it, the fact that BLM’s appearance was followed by an increase in crime in some cities is sufficient proof that BLM was the cause of this increase. While cause normally precedes effect, to infer that BLM is the cause of the increase because it occurred after BLM arose would be to fall victim to the classic post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. This fallacy is committed when it is concluded that one event causes another simply because the proposed cause occurred before the proposed effect. More formally, the fallacy involves concluding that A causes or caused B because A occurs before B and there is not sufficient evidence to actually warrant such a claim. While this sort of error is usually the result of a lack of caution, it can also arise from motivated thinking: those who dislike BLM could be quick to link it with the increase of crime because of their dislike.
Properly sorting out the connection, if any, between BLM and the increase in crime would require a robust and objective analysis of statistical data, causal connections and human motivations. As of this writing, this has not been completed. As such, whether or not BLM really is a causal factor remains an open question. That said, it is certainly worth assessing the arguments advanced in support of BLM responsibility.
The first argument, as noted above, focuses on the claim that BLM encourages people to take videos of police and pushes for the release of police videos when incidents occur. This causes officers to worry that they will be filmed, thus leading them to scale back on policing. It is this, it is alleged, which increases crime. In terms of a causal explanation, this has considerable plausibility. If the police are afraid of being filmed, they are less likely to engage in activities that would result in their being filmed. When the police cut back on those activities, such as stops and aggressive policing, the pressure on criminals is lessened and they have a freer hand in committing crimes.
The second set of arguments also do establish a link between BLM and the increase in crime. The idea that the protesting demoralizes the police does make sense and dealing with protests does pull away police resources. As such, the causal link between BLM and an increase in crime can be established. While those who dislike BLM would be content to take this as the end of the story, this is actually just the beginning. There still remain causal questions as well as questions about moral responsibility.
One way to consider the matter is to use an analogy that is, hopefully, less imbued with ideology and emotion. Imagine that it was found that some doctors were prescribing unnecessary medications in order to get money and gifts from pharmaceutical companies. It can also be added that some doctors engaged in Medicare fraud that also proved harmful to the patients. Suppose that this was exposed by videos taken by patients and an organization arose called Patients’ Lives Matter to address this mistreatment of patients by some doctors. Suppose that the rate of illnesses started increasing after PLM started protesting.
Some might argue that PLM is to blame. One argument might be that doctors are now afraid to properly treat patients because someone might take a video of them. Another might be that doctors have become demoralized by the protests and hence do not do as well on the job. Presumably the solution would be for PLM to disband and allow the doctors to return to what they were doing. But, this seems absurd—the moral responsibility rests on the doctors who engaged in the misdeeds, not on PLM. The bad doctors need to be corrected or replaced—getting rid of PLM will merely “solve” the problem by returning to the previous problem.
In this case it would seem odd to blame the patients alone. After all, but for the doctors who engaged in the misdeeds, there would be no PLM to demoralize the doctors. Going back to BLM, but for the police who engaged in misdeeds, there would be no BLM. As such, the police who have engaged in misdeeds are also a causal factor. BLM would have nothing to encourage people to film and no videos to press for release if there were no misdeeds. As people so often say, those who have nothing to hide have no reason to fear scrutiny—ironically, this is often said about cases in which the police or other agents of the state are intruding into the privacy of citizens. If it applies to citizens, it surely applies to the police as well. After all, if an officer does nothing wrong, video will vindicate the officer. This is why some departments actually want officers to have cameras.
In terms of the protests, while it is true that such protests can be demoralizing, BLM is not protesting nothing—they are protesting events that are quite real. Naturally, it is reasonable to be concerned about how the community regards the police. However, BLM seems to be a response to the already poor relationships between many communities and their police, not the cause of those poor relationships.
The complaints about BLM disrupting communities seems analogous to the complaints about civil rights activists “damaging” community relationships by protesting the violation of civil rights. That is, that race-relations were just fine until the civil rights activists came in and caused all the trouble.
While it is true that people reacted negatively to civil rights activists, the moral blame for the reactions lies with those responding, not with the activists. And, of course, race relations were not fine—at least not fine for those being lynched. In the case of BLM, the problems are already there in the community, BLM is merely bringing them into the national spotlight—and some would prefer that they remain in the shadows. Blaming BLM for the increase in crime is thus a red herring—an attempt to distract people from the real cause and to discredit a movement that makes the white right very uncomfortable by bringing what was once in the shadows into the light.
Blaming BLM for the increase in crime is thus a red herring—an attempt to distract people from the real cause and to discredit a movement that makes the white right very uncomfortable by bringing what was once in the shadows into the light.
Mike, can you share with us what you think is the “real cause” that you refer to above?
If you don’t know the “real cause,” how can you be so dogmatic that blaming BLM is a red herring?
You should note that “Hands up, don’t shoot” is its own red herring. And far more so than blaming BLM for increases in crime. All of this noise is a distraction from the failures of those in the impoverished black community. The breakdown of the family unit, the racism against whites, the rejection of successful black Americans for “acting white”, and on down the line.
TJ, do you really expect any sense of responsibility to come from Mike? Hell, let’s get to the root of BLM which as I referenced on the other thread was based on the original lie that George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin in cold blood with no provocation whatsoever. What do you suppose are the chances that you can get Mike to admit this fact, established in a court of law, with all of the evidence readily available to anyone who wishes to look at it? Get to the root of the matter on a subject of (dare I call it) “settled science”.
Also, wanted to add this….this line of argumentation is quite typical of the left. Not sure if it’s Allinsky-based as I’ve not had the “pleasure” of reading him, but it does fit the pattern of such. What the left has been quite successful at doing, and the right is complacent in weakness for falling for it, is that the left takes its own failures and weaknesses (“red herring” in this case) and projects them on to the right. This has the double effect of not only attacking the right but undercutting the right’s ability to respond to the accusations by appearing to look bad in not having an argument of its own. And when you have compliant, biased media, academic, and entertainment factions playing along it is hard to overcome. But the left must be called out on this without the right getting all jelly-spined and afraid of “what people will say”. When the other side has such a large megaphone, if the right fails to stand by its position when they have such an overwhelming stack of facts on their side, a la Zimmerman/Martin, they essentially hand the left the stick to beat them with.
And by “right” above, I mean non-leftists included.
Michael LaBossiere says
Since BLM arose after crime and high crime rates, there must be factors that cause crime other than BLM. BLM could have the impact of reducing police morale and thus causing a let up in the pressure on criminals. But, BLM did not create the conditions that give rise to the crime-so those remain the real causes.
But, BLM did not create the conditions that give rise to the crime-so those remain the real causes.
Mike, no one is arguing that BLM causes crime–this is a straw man that you have created yourself.
If you think of crime as a fire, and the police as a fire retardant, then you can understand that by removing some of the retardant the fire flares up. How much retardant is applied has nothing to do with the underlying causes of the fire.
Do you really not understand these points or are you just being flip?
Do you really not understand these points or are you just being flip?
I’ve tried to explain this to you many times. You are playing a game. The game is Mike’s game. The rules exist only in Mike’s sophistic head. So long as you take him seriously, take him at his word, you are losing. I’m not saying Mike is bright, but he’s only this obtuse when it suits his purposes. Think of it as another manifestation of the clown nose.
I was holding out for a long time, but I now must admit that you speak the truth.
I must say I have admired your stamina through all these years. Kudos to you for trying so hard. But it is a shame, isn’t it? On so many levels.
Also, Mike, there are plenty of people who believe, as I do, that
1) the police in general use too much force
2) by demonizing the police, the BLM movement is indirectly responsible for the deaths of many in inner city black communities
These are not incompatible viewpoints.
Michael LaBossiere says
True, those views are logically consistent.
That said, if people do not protest excessive force, then the police and politicians have little motivation to change.
One challenge protesters face is getting attention-this often requires doing things that might seem a bit excessive. For example, the open-carry protesters could simply write editorials about their views and give philosophical speeches about natural rights. However, they get that walking around with guns gets media attention. Calm, rational speeches and writings do not.
Also, by using the “hands up don’t shoot image,” you make the point that BLM isn’t particularly interested in the truth.
BLM is an organization dedicated to vengeance, not justice.
Michael LaBossiere says
They seem to think they are about justice. But, I cannot speak for them.
Mike, as I pointed out on the earlier thread, both Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and FBI Director Comey have linked the increase in crime to less aggressive policing in the wake of protests, riots, and scapegoating.
It is therefore disingenuous for you to characterize this position as a right wing talking point.
Michael LaBossiere says
That is reasonable; I accept that it is also a talking point used by the Mayor and the Director.
This is from The Guardian:
A new justice department-funded study concludes that a version of the so-called “Ferguson Effect” is a “plausible” explanation for the spike in violent crime seen in most of the country’s largest cities in 2015, but cautions that more research is still needed.
The study, released by the National Institute of Justice on Wednesday, suggests three possible drivers for the more than 16% spike in homicide from 2014 to 2015 in 56 of the nation’s largest cities. But based on the timing of the increase, University of Missouri St Louis criminologist Richard Rosenfeld concluded, there is “stronger support” for some version of the Ferguson Effect hypothesis than its alternatives.
Michael LaBossiere says
As noted in my post, I do take this hypothesis seriously. However, saying “BLM demoralizes cops, so they police less intensely, so crime goes up” does not take the causal chain back far enough in terms of responsibility. One must consider why BLM is protesting as well as the cause of crime itself. Crime obviously existed before BLM.
Are you claiming that crime was going up before the Trayvon Martin incident and the birth of BLM?
Yes, why is BLM protesting? Trayvon Martin was a lie. Hands-up-don’t-shoot was a lie. Baltimore was a lie. When normalizing for population and crime rates, blacks are actually less likely to be shot by police.
Where have you gone, Magus?
Anti-racism is racist…
That was long but it was spot on…except for a bit there regarding what I’m guessing was a misunderstanding of auto vs. semi-auto weapons, though not familiar with the details of that specific case he referenced so I could be wrong. Definitely worth the time. I doubt Mike will listen to it, though. Would offend his delicate sensibilities.
I doubt Prof. Mike will listen, but he should.
david halbstein says
I don’t even know where to begin.
First of all, for you to call this a “talking point of the right” is disingenuous at best. You cite two sources and use the term “right-wing” with a wink and a nod to all those who will dismiss the right without a second thought – those for whom “Fox News” and “Cheney” are buzz words for “say no more”.
You fail to mention that this effect – more commonly known as “The Furguson Effect” is not only mentioned by the likes of Bill O’Reilly and The National Review – (Ohhh – THEM! Well, we know about THEM) but by the Guardian, NPR, The Huffington Post, the New York TImes, Wall Street Journal and many other respected publications. In fact, the researcher who was most quoted for his insistent debunking of this hypothesis (Richard Rosenfield) has walked back his initial analysis and now believes there is at least something to it.
This is not a “talking point”, it is a valid hypothesis. If you want to draw an example to medicine, why not use aspirin? In the 1970’s, physicians started to notice a nontrivial reduction in heart attacks in those who took aspirin on a regular basis. This led to many studies that led to a now-widely accepted practice of a preventative measure of a small dose of aspirin for those who might be prone to heart attacks.
To continue the medical example, here’s another one. Physicians, in particular surgeons, anesthesiologists, and obstetricians, engage in very high-risk practices every day. There are no guaranteed outcomes, yet those are exactly what are expected by patients. Lawyers saw a field day in this – initiating roll-the-dice lawsuits with huge payoffs for patients who did not get the result they sought. If this practice were only to ferret out wrongdoers and sloppy doctors, that would be one thing – but the practice is only partially about being a watchdog against ineptitude – it is about finding sympathetic juries who will respond to tearful “victims” and award large sums to be split among the winners. My father was a respected orthopedic surgeon – he was never sued, but lamented often about how he spent an inordinate amount of time “building a file” for a potential suit. The requisite testing among physicians that they knew was unnecessary but would be seized upon by a crafty attorney had a widespread negative effect on patient care – delaying treatment, prolonging pain, and in some cases, producing the very negative effects they were intended to prevent.
And so it seems with BLM and The Furguson Effect.
I think you are using the wrong philosophical model. This is not a simple syllogism – It’s called “Rationalism”, where we can make observations about the world and events, and make intuitive deductions based on those observations, our sense of reason, and our experience in the world. While it is not as simple as “A + B = C”, one can see the spike in crime among African Americans in cities, we can listen to cops themselves saying that they are reluctant to engage because of fear of public reprisal, and we can listen to researchers like Richard Rosenfield, law-enforcement personnel like the director of the FBI and the DOJ, and people like the Mayor of Chicago and we at least have to raise an eyebrow and consider that it might be worth the research. It would be interesting to see if somehow the videos were to go away, and what would happen to law enforcement and the spike in crime.
I liken what is happening to the police across America to Islamophobia. Where we might agree that Islam is a religion of peace, and it is a nearly minuscule number of Muslims who perpetrate terror – it is that number that get the attention and lead to the perception that Muslims are terrorists. Police across the country keep the peace, make arrests, do their jobs without incident – but a handful of racists or overly-aggressive officers who get filmed have allowed the entire profession to be painted with the same brush.
You talk about two different kinds of people – those who believe in the hypothesis who want it to be proven, and those who do not (you, for example, by your post) who want it to be disproven. You left out a third group – those who want the violence to stop, who want to weed out bad cops AND prevent spikes in crime among African Americans.
When I went to see a podiatrist about a particularly nasty case of toenail fungus, he said, “There is a serious lack of studies to prove or disprove this, but there is some anecdotal evidence and at least one journal article indicating that Vick’s Vapo-Rub is at least as effective as a $300 tube of “Jublia” (as seen on TV). Guess what I did? Guess what happened?
1. The US is a country with the technological capability of sending apparatus to the furthest reaches of the solar system and receiving feedback from it. At the same time, it uses 13th century technology that involves a rapid chemical reaction driving metal pellets through the bodies of people that don’t obey orders and have not been adjudicated guilty of any crime.
2. Law enforcement is not required to obey the law. Instead, its agents are required to follow “department policy”, whatever that might be.
3. Low morale in law enforcement would be determined by the number of officers that leave the profession for other, more uplifting work. We don’t see any figures on that.
4. Law enforcement, like any other large aggregation of humans, contains individuals that are unwilling to obey the law themselves. The media is filled with examples every day. Internal affairs is one of the busiest units in any police department. It’s a statistical rarity for one policeman to testify against another.
5. There’s no national database of policemen that have been fired for criminal activity. They simply move on to another department.
6. It’s doubtful that law enforcement finds the reaction to their killing of suspects to be a negative. They want ordinary people to be aware that failure to comply with their commands could result in death.
david halbstein says
1. This is a worldwide, not a US issue; the fact is that in this country gun violence is down by a large percentage in the last 25 years. “Driving metal pellets through the bodies of people that don’t obey orders” is an aberration, not the norm. The aberrations, whether acts of international terrorism, medical malpractice, or police brutality, are what make the news, which gives the impression that they are representative of some kind of policy which they are not.
2. Absolutely not true. “Department Policy” is a subset of the law. Thousands of criminals are let free because of officers not following the law.
3. You are correct in this statement, but low morale is not the problem. I think that is a mistake that Mike made in his post. Better to call this situation “Fear”. Fear of being excoriated for being called a racist, fear of a viral video that does not show the whole truth, fear based in understanding that avoiding a dangerous situation in dereliction of duty is sometimes better than a pitchfork-wielding angry mob.
4. True – but again, these are the cases that make the news. Every day tens of thousands of arrests, stops, inquiries and other police actions are made without incident.
5. The first part may be true – but we do not have a national police force. Our police forces are local and state organizations. I think you made up the second part. Because of the viral videos, cops are tried in the court of public opinion, which has a 100% conviction rate. These cops may be moved to a different department or taken off active duty, but cops who are actually convicted of criminal activity are fired and lose their pensions.
6. That’s your opinion.
5.New York Times, Sept. 10, 2016
As a police officer in a small Oregon town in 2004, Sean Sullivan was caught kissing a 10-year-old girl on the mouth.
Mr. Sullivan’s sentence barred him from taking another job as a police officer.
But three months later, in August 2005, Mr. Sullivan was hired, after a cursory check, not just as a police officer on another force but as the police chief. As the head of the department in Cedar Vale, Kan., according to court records and law enforcement officials, he was again investigated for a suspected sexual relationship with a girl and eventually convicted on charges that included burglary and criminal conspiracy.
“It was very irritating because he should never have been a police officer,” said Larry Markle, the prosecutor for Montgomery and Chautauqua counties in Kansas.
Mr. Sullivan, 44, is now in prison in Washington State on other charges, including identity theft and possession of methamphetamine. It is unclear how far-reaching such problems may be, but some experts say thousands of law enforcement officers may have drifted from police department to police department even after having been fired, forced to resign or convicted of a crime.
Yet there is no comprehensive, national system for weeding out problem officers. If there were, such hires would not happen, criminologists and law enforcement officials say.
Officers, sometimes hired with only the most perfunctory of background examinations — as Kansas officials said was the case with Mr. Sullivan — and frequently without even having their fingerprints checked, often end up in new trouble, according to a review of court documents, personnel records and interviews with former colleagues and other law enforcement officials.
As fatal police shootings of unarmed African-American men and sometimes violent protests have roiled the nation, the question of how best to remove the worst police officers has been at the core of reform attempts.
david halbstein says
I guess there are two separate topics here. The first one revolves around the original question, which is whether or not the “Ferguson Effect” inhibits officers from doing their duty for fear of public reprisal and excoriation. Your examples illustrate my point pretty well. No one has ever said that there are not bad cops – but the public perception is that the problem is a nationwide epidemic and that all cops, or most cops are bad seeds. The reason behind this is because of the proliferation of sensational and ubiquitous reportage – and not necessarily by the MSM. YouTube, Facebook, slanted blogs and websites report that which supports their bias, and reports it in such a way as to prove their own point. I think your post shows that you have bought into this idea; that you are more inclined to believe that most police forces are corrupt, and that most cops are racist thugs and that the “system” does little to correct this – without considering that the only thing you read is the bad news.
Again – and this is extremely important – this does not mean that a problem does not exist, but rather misrepresents the extent of the problem. I have used the Muslim example before – there are certainly Muslim terrorists among us, those who would seek to do us great harm – yet that is no indication that all Muslims are bad or should even be eyed with suspicion. That is patently racist. Substitute any group in this model and you will see an unfounded, bigoted rush to judgement. Black people commit more crimes than whites – does this mean that all blacks are potential criminals? It is not too big a stretch then to consider the Japanese during WWII. Gun violence is reported, discussed, tweeted, posted, and opined upon with great energy in this country – to the extent that gun control is at the top of the political agenda of politicians – yet gun violence has gone down steadily in this country for the last 20 years. We’d never know it, thanks to 24-hour cable news, Facebook, Twitter, and all the other outlets I mention above. In my entire life of 60 years, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve ever even seen a gun – and I bet there are millions more like me – but that never makes the news. The result is a perception of an epidemic that simply does not exist.
It does not surprise me that you were able to find examples that you believe support your point, and I agree that in law enforcement as in any other profession, there are bad seeds. Given my somewhat Libertarian views and my cynicism towards government in general, I cringe at the thought of a national registry – or a national anything – just given the federal government’s uncanny ability to f*** things up and ruin people’s lives. Consider the national “No Fly List”, which secretly contains the names of people who are no longer under suspicion, who never were legitimately suspected, whose names simply sound like others. In using the firearm example above, we tend to view gun owners and supporters of the second amendment (including me) as “Gun Nuts”, again, painting an entire group with the same brush. Placing gun owners on a national registry subjects them to scrutiny that has nothing to do with guns at all. Gun dealers have been audited by the IRS and denied legitimate loans by banks.
Full disclosure – the national registry I WOULD support is one of corruption among lawmakers that would prevent them from ever running for public office again. However, that might leave us with no government at all.
I do agree with you, though, that prospective police officers should be screened more carefully. I believe that the last statement in your post – “the question of how best to remove the worst police officers has been at the core of reform attempts.” is as it should be – but this should happen at a local level, not a national one. Nationalizing this issue opens doors that will be impossible to close.
Incidentally, to read the headline only in the first link you post would definitely support your point – some secret tactic by local police caused the gunning down of an innocent person simply making a U-turn – and the article provides very little detail that would belie that headline. However, in looking for further information from additional news sources, we find that this was not just some innocent shot down by rogue cops. First of all, this was not a police action – it was the action of the Secret Service and the Capitol Police, who do have a separate set of rules because their charge is more about protecting heads of state. The woman who was shot rammed two Secret Service barricades, struck two agents with her car, led a high speed chase down Pennsylvania Avenue and caused the White House and Capitol to be placed on lockdown. If you want to criticize the police action that’s fine – but you should criticize within the context of the entire story.
With regard to the second piece you cite, “California Cops Evade Prosecution” … that’s a fairly early headline. The final report on this case is that all of the cops involved were found guilty on multiple charges and were dismissed from the force. I do agree that justice was not swift and perhaps punishment was light, but again, you need to gather all the facts before you post inflammatory and incorrect information simply because it supports your point.
“whether or not the “Ferguson Effect” inhibits officers from doing their duty for fear of public reprisal and excoriation.”
What’s the “public reprisal”? What form does the “excoriation” take? As pointed out earlier, law enforcement wants the pubic to know that they MUST do as they’re told or risk injury or death. Cops carry guns and are reinforced by other cops. They’re not even slightly worried about public reprisal since they are agents of the state. This incident paints an interesting picture of the law enforcement mentality: http://nailheadtom.blogspot.com/2013/02/christopher-dorner-and-lapd.html
“Incidentally, to read the headline only in the first link you post would definitely support your point – some secret tactic by local police caused the gunning down of an innocent person simply making a U-turn”
That’s not the issue at all, which is that neither the DC police nor the Secret Service are willing to explain their use of force policies, making them unknown or secret to the general public, ergo an individual can’t know what behavior on their part could result in their death.
It’s interesting that a bill has been introduced in the Illinois legislature mandating instruction and testing for drivers that includes the correct response to being stopped in a car by law enforcement. Oddly, most driver instruction does not include this although responding inappropriately could be fatal.
BLM inspired crime? No. Say it ain’t so.
The BLM motto: “riot first, find out truth later.”
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Less than a year before Keith Scott was shot and killed by a police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina, his wife said in court papers that he had called himself a “killer” and threatened to kill his family with his gun.
Rakeyia Scott sought a domestic violence protective order against her husband on Oct. 5, 2015, in Gaston County, North Carolina, according to a copy of the document posted online by Time Warner Cable News on Tuesday.
She said in a motion for the order of protection that days earlier the father of seven had hit their 8-year-old son in the head and kicked her. On Oct. 4, he threatened to kill them, she said.
“He said he is a ‘killer’ and we should know that,” she said in court documents. In those documents, she said that Keith Scott worked as a security officer at a local mall and carried a 9 mm handgun.
Charlotte police have said that Scott, 43, was armed on Sept. 20 when he was fatally shot by an officer. The incident sparked a week of sometimes violent protests and made North Carolina’s largest city the latest flashpoint in the controversy over U.S. police killings of black men.
david halbstein says
There were two headlines in this morning’s Wall Street Journal. One read, “Black Teenager Shot by Police in St. Louis”. The other read, “Mother and Son Shot Dead In Bronx Home”.
I found the first one to be inflammatory – and if one is just scanning headlines as so many of us do, the take-away from this headline is “Oh, here we go again – another racist cop!” It isn’t until the third paragraph that we learn that the teenager was fleeing on foot from being questioned regarding a car-jacking incident – and at one point he turned and fired at the officers. He fired first. Nor does it say that he was not killed – he was wounded and taken to the hospital. To some, that does not matter – especially those who read AND write the headlines. Clearly the important information is “Black” “Teenager” “Shot By Police”.
Why was the headline not, “Teenager Fires On Police While Fleeing Questioning, Wounded In Attack” ?
The other headline merely reports the incident without mention of race. Why is race important in the first story, but not in the second?
Some might argue that the papers got it backwards in the first case – that race is completely unimportant. A suspect, while being questioned in a carjacking, fled and fired on police; police fired back and wounded the suspect.
Others might argue that the papers also got it backwards in the second case. Further investigation reveals that the mother and son were African American, and that the step-father (also African American) is being held in their murder. Why might race be important here? Because the black-on-black crime in this country is not statistically insignificant, and by downplaying or ignoring those statistics we deny ourselves the opportunity to face the facts and try to address the root causes of the violence.
I would argue that the papers should not report the race of those involved in either case. We are a racist nation, and race is at the forefront of nearly every discussion we have, nearly every statistic we cite. I would prefer that the newspapers not imply that either incident was racially motivated, and let the facts be read untainted.
I have made the case before that the news we get is tremendously slanted – popular stories are repeated, posted on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs and kept in front of us constantly, skewing our perception of reality. To read the headlines we are a nation full of racist killer-cops, xenophobic politicians, and gun-crazy murderers. The good news just doesn’t sell. Reality is far different than the pictures painted in the media and on the Internet.
I often rewrite headlines for exactly this reason. Most people only read the headlines. This is why writing them is very important. The media is making sure black crime is downplayed while (supposed) white racism is played up.
I looked a little further into this issue, and found a very revealing article in TIME magazine, titled, “Why Black Women Struggle More With Domestic Violence”, which would point to the second article in the WSJ as a symptom that should be dealt with.
The article points out that African American women are statistically more likely to be victims of domestic violence or intimate partner violence (DP/IPV) than any other demographic – three times as likely to experience death as a result of DP/IPV. Although black women make up 8% of the population, 22% of homicides that result from DP/IPV happen to them; DP/IPV is one of the leading causes of death for black women ages 15-35.
The author states the following:
“Black women and men believe racism is a bigger issue than sexism, Black women tend to feel obligated to put racial issues ahead of sex-based issues. For Black women, a strong sense of cultural affinity and loyalty to community and race renders many of us silent, so our stories often go untold. One of the biggest related impediments is our hesitation in trusting the police or the justice system. As Black people, we don’t always feel comfortable surrendering “our own” to the treatment of a racially biased police state and as women, we don’t always feel safe calling police officers who may harm us instead of helping us.”
My questions are, “where do these perceptions come from? Are they accurate? Have we, in the press, on the Internet, on TV, and in our ongoing discussions, played up the narrative of racism, bias, racial separation and racial politics to such an extent as to create a false, or even exaggerated narrative such that black women would prefer to remain the victims of abusive, dangerous, and even homicidal relationships rather than ‘surrendering one of their own to a police state’ “?
If the BLM movement were really about black lives mattering, this kind of situation would be at the front of discussion – but as it is, I’m afraid the focus is on racial politics and power. Shame on the Wall Street Journal for downplaying the importance of a tragic situation for a helpless family, victims of real racism that is left untouched, while the attention of the country is focused on the false narrative that created the situation in the first place.
And shame on them for that other headline for the same reason.
Here is a link to the TIME magazine article.
That’s very true. I’ve read article about black women being told not to report a rape or abuse because “our black men have a hard enough time already”. The black community is totally dysfunctional, and BLM isn’t helping at all.
Nice to see blacks being honest about their racism ie. “For Black women, a strong sense of cultural affinity and loyalty to community and race renders many of us silent, so our stories often go untold.”. No prizes for guessing what the reaction to a white person talking about their racial/cultural loyalty would be.
“He says there may have been a verbal exchange or a social media post about the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, which may have sparked Friday night’s assault…” Read more: Mother identifies Sylacauga HS student beaten in possibly racially motivated attack http://www.wbtv.com//story/33294138/mother-identifies-sylacauga-hs-student-beaten-in-possibly-racially-motivated-attack#.V_MOXrkHtA4.twitter
david halbstein says
I think we can all find areas where racial violence has occurred, instigated by a variety of reasons and perpetrated by either whites or blacks or hispanics. The point is that the reportage appears to be heavily skewed. Incidence of “white-cop-on-black-(perpetrator? victim? detainee? suspect? innocent bystander?)” make the headlines every day and create a false narrative of racist cops backed by racist departments protected by racist cities, counties and states.
This over-reporting and sensationalism creates anger among some groups, escalates violence among others, and creates fear among still others. When police are reluctant to engage for fear of triggering a violent response that is based on a distorted public perception, this can and does become a dangerous situation; there is much evidence and research indicating the validity of “The Ferguson Effect”.
The same is true for women who, according to the TIME article and others, are so afraid of what they believe to be a racist system out to do them harm, do not report incidents of domestic violence and thereby endanger themselves and their families. The fact that domestic violence is a leading cause of death for African American women between the ages of 15 – 35 is appalling.
To a large extent it comes down to responsible journalism, which I don’t think really exists in this country anymore. As I have said in so many of my posts on so many subjects – it is also up to us – the citizens of this country – to be responsible consumers of journalism and not just believe the headlines we read.
Let’s not forget that the basic Democratic game plan is to whip up anger at election time so that they can divide and conquer.
Here is an example:
Meanwhile, Bill rides the “Lolita Express” with impunity.
Problems Mike won’t discuss…
white kid. No one cares. Had it coming to him. He spoke up. Black kids can speak up and rage against the machine. White kids, no. Ask Mike, he’ll ‘splain it to you. After all, one of his main purposes as a philosopher is to, as he once said, “preserve humanity”. This kid just wasn’t human. F him. Did you hear what Trump said 11 years ago?