The church of liberalism still spreading the message that black incarceration is the result of white racism

The New York Times has a symposium on “Young, Black, and Male in America.” It begins with this:

The news for young black men is not good: they are disproportionately singled out for discipline in school, they are more likely to be stopped and frisked by New York City police officers, and according to Michelle Alexander in her book, “The New Jim Crow,” nearly one-third of black men are likely to spend time in prison at some point in their lives.

Would pulling back on draconian drug laws or legalizing marijuana be enough to fix this imbalance? What else needs to be done?

Well, the first thing that needs to be done is to stop telling evil lies. We could start by re-writing the Times’ first paragraph:

Young black men misbehave and commit violent criminal acts vastly more than any other demographic group in America, and as a result they are disciplined and imprisoned vastly more than any other demographic group in America. They create a huge behavioral problem in schools; they carry and use illegal guns far more than any other group, necessitating stop and frisk policies aimed at protecting black communities; and, as Lawrence Auster said on the Bob Grant radio program in the aftermath of the O.J. Simpson acquittal in 1995, nearly a third of black men are convicted felons. Further, Auster added, because so many blacks are criminals, with friends and relatives of these convicted criminals constituting a majority of blacks, the black community tends to be pro-criminal and anti-police, and thus, out of racial tribalism, blames the very high rates of black imprisonment on some fictional white racism rather than on the criminal acts of blacks themselves.

But now back to our lying reality. One of the first responses in the Times symposium is:

We Must Eliminate Discrimination
Michael C. Dawson

Michael C. Dawson is the John D. MacArthur Professor of Political Science and the director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago. He is the author of “Not In Our Lifetimes: The Future of Black Politics.”

March 12, 2012

Michelle Alexander is absolutely correct. The war on drugs is a key component of the 21st century’s system of racial control—what I have called in my work for a number of years the racial order. Eliminating draconian drug laws, legalizing marijuana so that its use is treated as what it is—a social drug, with social and medical problems, on the order of alcohol—is a necessary, but by no means sufficient, condition for beginning to rectify the mass incarceration of black males and return a modicum of equity to our criminal justice system and society. Given, however, that the war on drugs is just one component of the racial order that continues to particularly devastate and disadvantage poor black and brown communities, several other steps must be urgently taken if we are actually to build the democratic, just society that has never existed for these communities.

The war of drugs is just one component of the racial order that continues to devastate and disadvantage poor black and brown communities.

Recent reports have demonstrated extraordinary rates of punitive racial discrimination in everything from New York City’s stop-and-frisk policy to the disciplining of black youth in the school system. While it is critical to attack and eliminate these discriminatory policies and the racist stereotypes that underlie these behaviors, we also have to address the systemic components of the racial order that fuel not only mass incarceration, but also the narrowing of the possibilities for human flourishing in poor communities of color.

In Chicago, New York, Boston and other cities, progress is being made in the public education of young people from disadvantaged communities, but the resources are not available to extend these remarkable education achievements to the great majority of poor children in these places. That will remain the case as we rely on funding models for education that have a built-in bias toward rich communities, and we as a society do not commit to providing the best education for all of our children. Without such an education, these children will not have the skills to compete in an increasingly competitive globalized economy, and the country’s economic competitiveness and its social peace will be threatened by a generation that has known little hope and whose main institutional relationship to the state is the prison system.

If we are to avoid this grim but increasingly likely future, we must commit to eliminate both the discriminatory practices by officials ranging from teachers to the police and the underlying systemic components of injustice that rob entire communities of the resources and opportunities necessary for human beings to thrive.

Here is Heather Mac Donald’s contribution to the symposium:

The Value of a Mom and a Dad

Heather Mac Donald, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, is the author of “Are Cops Racist? How the War Against the Police Harms Black Americans.”

The black incarceration rate reflects elevated rates of crime commission. Every effort to find systemic bias in the criminal justice system has failed.

The most powerful antidote to violent crime by black men would be to ensure that more black children were raised by both their father and their mother.

Drug convictions are not driving the disproportionate black incarceration rate; violence is. If all drug offenders had been removed from state prisons (which house 88 percent of the nation’s prisoners) in 2006, the proportion of black prisoners would have dropped from 37.5 percent to 37 percent. The majority of black state prisoners are serving time for violence (54 percent in 2008, compared to only 22 percent for drug crimes). [LA replies: There’s a problem with Mac Donald’s numbers: if 37.5 percent of state prisoners are black, and if 22 percent of black state prisoners are serving time for drug crimes, then if all drug offenders were removed from state prisons, the proportion of black prisoners would drop by a lot more than .5 percent. It would drop by 22 percent of 37.5 percent, or 8.25 percent.] The national homicide rate for males between the ages of 14 and 25 was nearly 10 times higher for blacks than for whites and Hispanics combined in 2006; in New York City, blacks committed 80 percent of all shootings in 2009, though they were only 23 percent of the city’s population; whites committed 1.4 percent of all shootings, though they were 35 percent of the population. Such ratios recur throughout American cities.

The most powerful antidote to this violence would be to ensure that more black children were raised by both their father and their mother. No other ethnic or racial group suffers from family breakdown to the same degree: 73 percent of black children were born to unwed mothers in 2009. While many heroic single mothers raise stable, high-achieving children in the face of huge challenges, the odds are against them. As any urban teacher will recount, black boys in particular bring enormous anger to school with them and disproportionately act out against authority. Higher discipline rates for black students reflect this reality.

Public policy’s ability to change so complicated a problem as the decline of marriage is obviously limited; the place to start, however, is with public rhetoric. The same energy and resources that have been brought to the campaign to stigmatize smoking should be directed to a campaign to valorize fathers. The most powerful advantage that mothers can give their children is their father, the message should be. Today’s elites, with their high marriage rates, know this.

In short, Mac Donald wants to bring back traditional morality. Traditional morality is the expression of the belief in a transcendent moral order. That is undercut by Mac Donald’s own aggressive atheism, her repeatedly expressed fear and loathing of religious belief and religious believers, and her participation in the atheist movement which seeks to remove from society all belief in God and the transcendent and have people see themselves as nothing but material entities. For there to be traditional morality, there must be belief in the good. The belief in the good is subverted by the materialist belief that man is nothing but a material being produced by purposeless material forces. There is no greater factor in the spreading misbehavior and social disorder of modern times than the widespread view of man as a material being. Thus Mac Donald the social critic calls for a renewal of social order even as Mac Donald the atheist campaigns against the fundaments of social order.

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Laura Wood writes:

Heather Mac Donald writes:

Public policy’s ability to change so complicated a problem as the decline of marriage is obviously limited; the place to start, however, is with public rhetoric. The same energy and resources that have been brought to the campaign to stigmatize smoking should be directed to a campaign to valorize fathers.

That is not the place to start. How could anyone think that the whole structure of the black family could be changed by ads for goody-goody fathers? The public’s ability to change “so complicated a problem” is immense. Black marriage rates tumbled after the introduction of public welfare benefits for single mothers and they will continue to remain high as long as black women can support their children with an array of public benefits, including welfare, subsidized infant formula, food stamps, day care and reduced education costs for single mothers.

We subsidize the criminal class before and after the commission of crimes.

Clark Coleman writes:

I don’t think there is necessarily a problem with Heather MacDonald’s numbers, as you suggest. She did not say, “if all black drug offenders were removed” from state prisons; she said, “if all drug offenders” were removed from state prisons. This is how you measure whether blacks are disproportionately in prison due to the war on drugs: remove all drug offenders of all races, then see how the racial proportion would change. The answer is that the racial proportion would be almost unchanged, because blacks are only slightly over-represented among drug offenders, contrary to popular belief.

Matt writes:

MacDonald’s numbers might work if in fact drugs are a much more common cause of white incarceration, while violence is a much more common cause of black incarceration. If that were the case, then legalizing pot (say) could increase rather than decrease the proportion of blacks incarcerated. Overall fewer people would be incarcerated, but disproportionate black violence (as opposed to drug) convictions would result in an increase in the proportion of black prisoners.

I agree though that the number is suspect, and should be verified.

March 16

Alexis Zarkov writes:

How many times do we need to refute the lies about black incarceration rates? It gets tiresome. Most prison inmates are men. Is this evidence of a bias against men by the criminal justice system? Of course not. Men are more aggressive, and prone to commit violent acts. They are more aggressive in every society at every point in history. If by their nature, men can be more violent than women, then why can’t blacks be more violent by their nature than whites? Nevertheless this argument fails to persuade the apologists for black violence, and we have to go further. Let’s eliminate the criminal justice system altogether and look at victimization survey statistics. Crimes reported by victims independent of whether the perpetrator was ultimately caught and punished. If the criminal justice system is truly biased against blacks, then we should see a gross disparity between black incarceration, and what crime victims say.

The National Crime Victimization Survey samples a large number of households and has them report the race of the perpetrator. The methodology is described here. The data from the sample is then extrapolated to the whole U.S. population using statistical methods. Let’s look at Table 40 from the 2005 survey. The first line of the table tells us that in 2005 we had almost four million crimes of violence perpetrated by a lone offender, and then gives a breakdown by race. However, note the column labeled “not known and not available is high,” so it’s better to use “Rape/Sexual Assault” where the unknowns are small. Here we see that blacks were the offenders in nearly half of the approximate 160,000 sexual assaults, while whites were offenders in about one-third. I’m going to assume that almost all sexual assaults were committed by men, so we have black men (six percent of the population) responsible for half these crimes. Non-Hispanic white men are about one-third the population, which just about exactly matches the reported rate of 32.8 percent. This data tells us that the black sexual assault rate is eight times the white sexual assault rate. Thus we would expect that half the men in prison for rape would be black.

How do the so-called civil rights activists deal with these facts? Simple. They deny that the victims can correctly identify the race of the perpetrator, and the victims themselves have a bias towards identifying the offender as black. For example, black Columbia professor Marc Lamont Hill appeared on the O’Reilly television show, and at two minutes and 16 seconds into the interview O’Reilly confronted Hill with similar data. His response: “Self report studies are notoriously unreliable … when people are unsure of the race of their assailant they tend to err on the side of black and brown.” Had O’Reilly been prepared, he would have asked Hill if he thought women were unsure about the race of the man who raped them? As this example illustrates, activists like Hill, will always pull a new rabbit out of the hat to refute any argument. We can never come up with facts, data and analysis rigorous enough to convince them. On the other hand, their accusations of racism can be based on the most flimsy evidence and tendentious analysis.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 15, 2012 11:24 AM | Send

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