Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Neither Slavery Nor Genocide


In a study "of every fatal shooting in the United States by a police officer in the line of duty since Jan. 1, 2015," The Washington Post concluded (among other things) that black Americans "account for less than 13 percent of the U.S. population, but are killed by police at more than twice the rate of White Americans." (Note: "White" is a quote; "black" is not, hence "black" is correctly not capitalized, as would have been the case with "white.")

It's a useful, fact-based study but is misleading and can reinforce a false narrative.

According to the FBI, in 2019, 10,085,210 individuals, 7,014, 550 of them white and 2,667,000 of them black, were arrested in the USA. In the same year, police killed 1,098 individuals, 406 of them white and 259 of them black.

The number of arrests among ethnic groups reflects the number of crimes committed by each group. Obviously, not everyone killed by law enforcement had been arrested. However, the number of  arrests can serve as a rough proxy for the number of police interactions with individuals. (Given racial bias, the proportion of all police interactions with blacks probably would be disproportionately higher compared to arrests.)

Thus, there are .0058% as many killings by police of whites as there are arrests. For blacks, the corresponding number is .0097%, which is undoubtedly statistically significant and may be attributed to many factors including racial bias- and the likelihood that police interact especially frequently with blacks.

Nevertheless, the gap is not as great as some activists, pundits, and journalists would have us believe.  Included in the latter group is one Karen Attiah, bigot-in-residence at that same newspaper, The Washington Post.  I recently discovered Attiah, who tweeted in the midst of last summer's George Floyd protests:

 

The choice, by her parents, of the name "Karen" does not absolve her of responsibility for crude and baseless stereotyping. I don't know of even Trump supporters who refer to all, or a select group, of African-Americans as, say, "Willie." Yet, there is "Karen," a common stereotyping, among the race-obsessessed left, of whites.

From Attiah, however, this should not surprise. Recently, as she noted (accurately) in The Post, Derek "Chauvin was found guilty, but that is a low bar in a minutely documented, open-and-shut case." Unfortunately, she added "in a sense, by the time the verdict was read, White America itself was on trial for the violent subjugation of Black peoples — the original sin it has escaped accountability for more than 400 years."

No, not in any sense. The verdict was upon one individual for one horrific event, not upon "White America itself." Nothing (save posibly WWII internment of Japanese and Japanese-Americans) in this nation's past or present is analogous to slavery, which as recently as twelve months ago was justifiably referred to as "America's original sin." However, slavery has now given way to "violent subjugation of Black peoples (of) more than 400 years," implying a convenient- and absurd- symmetry between slavery and the modern status of blacks in the USA.

Recklessly, Attiah claimed also "there can be no justice when police can still eliminate non-White people at any time." Judged by that standard, police are doing a horrible job beyond even our imaginations.  In the first three months of 2021, 30 black civilians (of 213 overall) were killed by police- in a nation of approximately 47 million blacks. Either police are grossly inept, or they are do not want to "eliminate non-White people at any time."

You may notice she casually morphed blacks into "non-White," thereby grouping blacks in with Latinos, Asian-Americans, American Indians/Indigenous peoples, and Pacific-Islanders, as if all ethnic minorities face the same challenges. Claiming shared victimhood is a neat rhetorical trick.

Ironically, when people such as Karen Attiah exaggerate prejudice or racism of law enforcement officers toward blacks (or when convenient, "non-White"), they fail to recognize the fundamental flaws  exhibited by police to which individuals of any group may be subjected. Fortunately, they do not always escape the scrutiny of body cameras:



 

 

 

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