Monday, December 01, 2014

The Muddle Of Black On Black

Appearing on Fox and Friends (video below) a week ago, former New York City mayor  Rudy Giuliani stated 

The danger to a black child is not a white police officer. That’s going to happen less than 1 percent of the time. The danger to a black child — if it was my child — the danger is another black, 93 percent of the time they’re going to be killed by another black...

Blacks are basically killing other blacks, and these people are spending millions and millions of dollars demonstrating. They have every right to do it. Why don’t they spend an equal amount of time trying to figure out that horrendous crime problem that exists?

The  ex-mayor was supporting the argument he had the previous day with Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson on Meet The Press (video below).   Giuliani was intent on railing against the demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri, as well as the individuals appalled at the killing of Michael Brown, Jr. and the exoneration of then-police officer Darren Wilson.

"Why don't these  people (the demonstrators) spend an equal amount of time trying to straighten out this horrendous crime problem that exists," Giuliani emphasized on Fox and Friends.  Incensed at Dyson, on MTP he had charged "how about you go reduce crime?" Dyson noted that he was not an elected official but a few moments later (at approximately 2:30 of the video), Giuliani went a little ugly, admonishing "why don't you people" do something about the problem. He didn't explain exactly to whom "you people" referred.

"Ninety-three per cent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks," maintained Giuliani, twice on Sunday, once on Monday, citing a statistic Politifact believes is borne out by US Department of Justice statistics. 

To his credit, the ex-mayor evidently got through both interviews without using the hoary "black-on-black crime" cliche. He also was not quite as daft as Dyson, who claimed "black people who kill black people go to jail." Though likely accurate, it is not analogous to the situation of a police officer killing someone who was suspected of having earlier committed a theft- as in Ferguson- or to police officers (who get, if not a free pass, one quite inexpensive) in general.  Less accurately, Dyson maintained "most black people who commit crimes against other black people go to jail."

Largely because some crimes simply aren't serious enough to warrant jail, it doesn't happen exactly as Dyson suggests. It is disconcerting, further, that the professor appeared to be aghast at the thought that someone who commits a serious crime against another might be removed from the community.

Dyson's evident  hostility toward law enforcement and acceptance of what once was termed "inner city crime" led Giuliani to suggest if crime between blacks is reduced "so, so maybe white police officers don't have to be in black areas," Dyson shot back "they don't have to be, it's a matter of the state occupying those forces."   To the contrary, the police are not an occupying force, notwithstanding the military armor some departments possess and (very) occasionally deploy. Nonetheless, Dyson politely  ended his preposterous statement by respectfully calling Giuliani "sir." There always is a silver lining.

The major problem with police in minority neighborhoods is that their presence is infrequent and when requested, response times often are excessive.Not surprisingly, neither Dyson nor Giuliani went there, the latter because as a career politician, he won't admit it, the former because he doesn't want them there.

But the remarks of Giuliani, who once thought himself sufficiently qualified to be President that he was a declared candidate in 2008, should be viewed critically. Jamelle Bouie (in a post brilliantly entitled "Rudy Giuliani Doesn't Understand Crime As Well As He Thinks He Does") noted the mayor was prone "to treat these facts as racial problems inherent to black people."  This apporach, Bouie recognizes, "collapses a whole world of distinctions, circumstances, and situations into a single frame, where crime in Prince George’s County, Maryland, is the same as crime in Gary, Indiana, is the same as crime in Houston, and all are part of a nebulous 'black crime' problem."

Conservatives reacted similarly to the killing last year of Trayvon Martin in Florida. Then, Bouie explained

There’s no such thing as “black-on-black” crime. Yes, from 1976 to 2005, 94 percent of black victims were killed by black offenders, but that racial exclusivity was also true for white victims of violent crime—86 percent were killed by white offenders. Indeed, for the large majority of crimes, you’ll find that victims and offenders share a racial identity, or have some prior relationship to each other.

What Shapiro and others miss about crime, in general, is that it’s driven by opportunism and proximity; If African-Americans are more likely to be robbed, or injured, or killed by other African-Americans, it’s because they tend to live in the same neighborhoods as each other. Residential statistics bear this out (PDF); blacks are still more likely to live near each other or other minority groups than they are to whites. And of course, the reverse holds as well—whites are much more likely to live near other whites than they are to minorities and African-Americans in particular.

A crime committed upon a black person is no more (no less) outrageous than one committed against a white man or woman. Nor is a crime committed by a black person more (or less) awful than one committed by a white person. The emphasis upon "black-on-black crime" crudely overlooks that reality.

Share |

No comments:

On a Positive Note, It's What He Believes

During the War of 1812, Master Commandant Oliver Perry wrote to Major General William Henry Harrison " we have met the enemy and they ...