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According to Vox, we should “Stop asking Muslims to condemn terrorism. It’s bigoted and Islamophobic.”
There’s a certain ritual that each and every one of the world’s billion–plus Muslims, especially those living in Western countries, is expected to go through immediately following any incident of violence involving a Muslim perpetrator. … Here is what Muslims and Muslim organizations are expected to say: “As a Muslim, I condemn this attack and terrorism in any form.” This expectation we place on Muslims, to be absolutely clear, is Islamophobic and bigoted. The denunciation is a form of apology: an apology for Islam and for Muslims. The implication is that every Muslim is under suspicion of being sympathetic to terrorism unless he or she explicitly says otherwise. … This sort of thinking — blaming an entire group for the actions of a few individuals, assuming the worst about a person just because of their identity — is the very definition of bigotry. … we should treat the assumptions that compel this ritual — that Muslims bear collective responsibility … as flatly bigoted ideas with no place in our society. There is no legitimate reason for Muslim groups to need to condemn the monsters who attacked Charlie Hebdo….
A Muslimah at the Peace and Collaborative Development Network, in an article titled I’m Sorry I Won’t Internalize Collective Responsibility, concurs:
While politicians and Islamophobes alike continue to pressure the Muslim community into nonsensical apologies based on a homogenized identity, many Muslims have, unfortunately, internalized the narrative of collective responsibility, leading them to issue condemnations of acts of violence and terrorism based only on the fact that we share one piece of our identity. Coupled with the ever present voice of those calling for Muslims to speak out against Muslim terrorists, those who have stepped up to this plate, have not presented a counter–narrative as they purport, but rather an internalization of the dominant narrative where Muslims are guilty until proven innocent.
Nevermind if polling frequently finds legitimate reason for concern—nevermind if 2007 Pew research finds that amongst American Muslims under the age of 30, 26% believe that suicide bombings can be justified, while 27% “decline to express an opinion” when asked how they view al–Qaeda (with an additional 5% viewing them somewhat, or very, favorably). Nevermind if in the UK, 78% of Muslims think anyone who publishes cartoons of Muhammad should be prosecuted and 62% explicitly oppose the very principle of freedom of speech.
In the most recent Pew research of worldwide Muslim support for suicide bombings, Jay Michaelson writes that: “There are approximately 1,083,021,825 Muslims in the 21 countries they polled—68% of the global total. Based on the country–by–country percentages in the Pew report, that means about 133 million support the suicide bombing or other forms of violence against civilians. Extrapolating the data—which is probably inaccurate since American and European Muslims probably support violence significantly less, while Iranian Muslims may support it more—that means about 195 million Muslims worldwide support suicide bombing and other acts of violence against civilians.”
Despite every bit of this, the default position of the left is that to even expect mainstream Muslims to denounce violence is bigotry. A tolerated and respected position along that spectrum is that it caves in to that bigotry even for well–meaning Muslims to denounce violence with sincere intentions, and this should stop. Most leftists would say that a far more pressing concern when it comes to our response to acts of terrorism committed by Muslims should be to see to it that acts or even mere attitudes of retaliation do not form against other innocent Muslims in response.
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I’m not trying to raise alarmist panic about Islam; but here’s the point: if we replace al–Qaeda with Stormfront, and we replace Muslims with white people, what above represents the “anti–racist” orthodoxy becomes something we would not expect to read anywhere outside of white supremacy circles. What we’re morally required to say about violent Muslim is what we’re morally prohibited from saying about violent whites, and what we’re morally required to say about violent whites is what we’re morally prohibited from saying about Muslims.
Imagine how the results would be reported if a full 26% of young white Americans polled believed that knowingly killing innocent black civilians in the process of responding to black criminal violence could sometimes be justified—say, by police deliberately bombing an entire housing project to take out a black killer instead of doing their best to apprehend the perpetrator alone—could sometimes be justified. Imagine how the results would be reported if a full 27% “declined to express an opinion” about major neo–Nazi groups, with a further 5% having somewhat or very favorable views. Would the media be praising the tolerance of white Americans in contrast to, say, white South Africans if it was found that 81% of white Americans said that attacks on innocent civilians in defense of Christianity were never justified—whereas nearly 1 in 5 failed, for one reason or another, to agree with this—in contrast to only 72% of white South Africans?
If you were to see someone making the following statement, who would you peg them to be? What would you assume to be the ideological position they were arguing from?: “Many white people have, unfortunately, internalized the narrative of white America’s collective responsibility for acts like those committed by Dylann Roof, leading them to issue condemnations of acts of violence and terrorism based only on the fact that we share one piece of our identity. There’s a certain ritual of apology that white people are expected to go through immediately following any incident of racist violence against black victims involving a white perpetrator. … This expectation we place on white people, to be absolutely clear, is anti–white bigotry. The denunciation is a form of apology: an apology for being white. The implication is that every white person is under suspicion of being sympathetic to racist violence unless he or she explicitly says otherwise.” Where would you expect to see comments like these supported and condoned? Stormfront? American Rennaisance? Rush Limbaugh, at the very least?
But even the conservatives at Breitbart.com had no difficulty calling Dylann Roof “pure evil.”
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Yet, in contrast to all this, a simple search for the words “white responsibility Dylann Roof” gives me as a top result the following article from Psychology Today: “To admit that I’m white like Roof is to feel guilty …. But guilt is not enough. Nor are apologies. … Perhaps most painfully, it means doing the hard work of taking responsibility for Dylann Roof’s whiteness because he is white like me.” An article posted at Salon and Alternet sends a similar message—the opening words of the article’s title: White America is Complicit. The article begins: “In so many ways, the story of Dylann Roof, the shooting suspect who allegedly killed nine people in an historic South Carolina black church, is a parallel to the story of America itself.”
What would we call it if someone said, “The story of [pick any Muslim terrorist] is a parallel to the violent story of how Muhammad founded the religion of Islam itself?” Oh, right—that would be Islamophobia. Much less if that same writer continued—as the author of the Alternet piece does—to say: “But [the Islamic terrorist] is more honest than those—and there are so many—whose complicity lies in looking the other way, in denying [the history of Islam], in pretending that each new [Islamic act of violence] is an isolated anomaly.” That would be Islamophobia to the extreme.
With a nod to Aurelius Pundit, this image captures the hypocrisy rather succinctly:
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That Alternet article addresses a prevalent sentiment when it complains that “the cops were careful to take him alive, which even the most innocent of black folks cannot count on.” Not only that—but they even gave him a bulletproof vest.
And the claims generated on the witch hunt to find “white privilege” keep getting worse: this photo made the rounds on Twitter, with the caption: “white privilege is murdering 9 people and then having the police give you a bullet proof vest but not handcuffs.”
Nevermind the fact that it’s clearly the left arm of the man behind Dylann in the top–left photo hanging free, not Dylann’s, apparently giving anyone the impression that his hands were free. Nevermind that in the thirty seconds it takes to load Google and type in Dylann’s name, any photo that gives you a view of his side, back, or legs would show clearly that he was both handcuffed and cuffed around the ankles:
History lesson: in October of 2002, 42–year old convicted murderer and Nation of Islam member John Allen Muhammad and his 17–year–old partner Lee Boyd Malvo planned to kill six white people per day “to terrorize the nation”, including plans to bomb school buses and children’s hospitals: “He wanted to kill a policeman, then set off a bomb at his funeral.” Over the course of three weeks, ten people were killed and three more were critically injured.
Guess what it looked like when Lee Boyd Malvo was captured by police:
No heads are cracking and no guns are being pointed at anyone in this picture.
That white thing? Yeah, that’s a bulletproof vest.
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One of the more pernicious myths—pernicious because it tries to discredit a really serious issue through its dishonesty in trying to make the issue all about race—is that we only talk about mental illness when a killer is white. This article from Alternet, for example, was titled: “It’s Not About Mental Illness: The Big Lie That Always Follows Mass Shootings By White Males.” Always—nevermind that the article doesn’t quote a single person who claimed Dylann Roof was mentally ill so we can judge what they actually said for ourselves. For my part, I can’t actually remember hearing this claim happen once until I heard sources like Mr. Chu here raving about how we “always” do it. And after asking around, I can’t find anyone else I know, even amongst my many politically oriented friends, who heard anyone dismiss Roof as “mentally ill” either. Let’s just push that to the side—I’m sure somebody said it. (Right? Sure. Whatever.)
Alright, … well, it’s time for a few more history lessons.
In 1993, Nathan Dunlap gunned down 5 people in a Chuck E. Cheese’s in Colorado to “get even” after he was fired for declining to work extra hours. The Colorado Observer tells us that “In their clemency petition, they contend that Dunlap … had undiagnosed bipolar disorder and was experiencing his first mania episode the night of Dec. 14, 1993 … ” when he opened fire. A CBS News article on “Mass Shootings and Mental Illness” discusses “Colin Ferguson [who, in 1993] killed six commuters on a New York Train.” In 2009, Maurice Clemmons murdered four police officers and continued to evade capture for two further days—“the largest number of law enforcement officers killed by one man in a single incident in U.S. history”. The Huffington Post published an article titled: “Maurice Clemmons: Mental Illness Does Cause Violence”.
At The Washington Post, we see that “Muhammad’s [the DC sniper’s] attorneys had argued that the sniper is mentally ill and that he should have been granted a competency hearing before his trial, at which he represented himself briefly.” And The Associated Press published the following headline about his accomplice: “Psychologist: Malvo Has Mental Disease.” In fact, Malvo was spared the death penalty for his part in the racist rampage because of that presumed mental disease (dissociative disorder from brainwashing). Lest I sound wholly unsympathetic to that judgment, I note that even after conviction, Malvo continued expressing what appeared to be genuine remorse for the impact that Muhammad had had on him, making genuine calls to and letters for his past victims—so it appears this may well have been the right call.
Most telling of all, the argument here is really that white racists only want to talk about mental illness when a killer is white—as a disingenuous way of humanizing them, simply because of sympathy due to the fact that they’re white—so take a look at what the white conservatives at The American Thinker did here. Guess what? When a black guy published a manifesto and went out killing, they talked about the impacts of mental illness and the consequences of psychotropic drugs! So much for that racial double standard. Even the white conservative troglodytes you’d expect to be its worst offenders aren’t guilty of it.
You may remember the rampage that began in February of 2013 when a black ex–cop, Christopher Dorner, declared “unconventional and asymmetric warfare” on the LAPD in response to his firing from the department. As one of his first actions, he shot Monica Quan and her fiancé Keith Lawrence in the parking garage of their condominium simply because Monica was the daughter of Randal Quan, who had represented him at the hearing where he reported Theresa Evans for an alleged case of excessive force—even though Randal had opposed his firing. Large numbers of leftists found this “kind of exciting,” as did the Distinguished Professor of African American Studies at Columbia University, Marc Lamont Hill, when he said “he’s been like a real–life superhero to many people. … many people aren’t rooting for him to kill innocent people; they’re rooting for someone who was wronged to get a kind of revenge against the system. It’s almost like watching ‘Django Unchained’ in real life.”
Nevermind that Dorner’s ex–girlfriend described him as “twisted” and “super paranoid” in a posting at “DontDateHimGirl.com,” to which Dorner unsuccessfully tried to file a restraining order against her, or that the female officer Dorner claimed had used excessive force had submitted a performance review stating he needed improvement the literal day before he made the charge of excessive force, or that none of the three hotel employees who witnessed most of the event saw Evans kick the suspect in question, as Dorner had claimed—the evidence here was, at the very least, ambiguous.
It’s not as if Hill was alone in his sentiment. A number of much larger pages were shut down on Facebook in February 2013—for example, see the broken link in the third paragraph of this 2013 article—but one of the largest ones still has over 17,000 fans. The I Support Christopher Dorner page, with more than 14,000 fans, was started by someone who, according to The Huffington Post, wanted to steer the conversation away from Dorner’s mental health: “I knew that the media was going to turn this into just another ‘He’s a psycho ex–cop ex–military that went insane’ story… There is a huge underlying story of police corruption and the plight of a man that tried his best to do good and was relentlessly punished for it.”
So, talking about mental illness is a despicable way to humanize white killers, and only white killers, by making us sympathize with their plight and personal struggles, and we only do this for white killers because we’re racists who only humanize whites—except when we do it for non–white killers, in which case we’re simply dismissing non–white killers’ valid grievances … because we are, once again, racists no matter what.
Incidentally, the word “terrorism” wasn’t applied to Dorner’s spree until it had gone a full ten days in. Similarly, when Muslim U.S. Army psychiatrist Nidal Hassan, who opposed our involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, killed 13 people and injured 30 more after extended contact with Anwar al–Awlaki, the U.S. government classified this not as “terrorism” but instead as an act of “workplace violence.” Perhaps there are reasons other than race that explain why some acts of violence are called “terrorism” and not others?
In 2010, a 43–year–old Asian man named James Lee entered the Discovery Channel building and proceeded to take hostages, carrying a handgun and wearing what he wanted observers to believe was an explosive device. His motives were revealed in a manifesto originally posted at SaveThePlanetProtest.com: “The Discovery Channel and it’s affiliate channels MUST have daily television programs at prime time slots … on how people can live WITHOUT giving birth to more filthy human children since those new additions continue pollution and are pollution. … Broadcast this message until the pollution in the planet is reversed and the human population goes down! This is your obligation. If you think it isn’t, then get hell off the planet! Breathe Oil! … Find solutions so that people stop breeding as well as stopping using Oil in order to REVERSE Global warming and the destruction of the planet! … Saving the Planet means saving what’s left of the non-human Wildlife by decreasing the Human population. … For every human born, ACRES of wildlife forests must be turned into farmland in order to feed that new addition over the course of 60 to 100 YEARS of that new human’s lifespan! THIS IS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE FOREST CREATURES!!!! All human procreation and farming must cease!”
Despite the obvious ideology of Lee’s manifesto, it’s safe to say no one should hold their breath waiting on the mainstream media, or Alternet or Salon, to pin even any partial blame for Lee’s action on people like Al Gore, or extreme predictions like his 2007 statement that the polar icecaps would be completely melted by 2013, a prediction which “if anything … is already too conservative.” (In fact, that prediction that was “proven to be off… by 920,000 square miles”; 2013 blew away the record for icecap growth). Suddenly, the same people raving that talking about mental illness is just a disingenuous “way to avoid saying other terms like ‘toxic masculinity’” will realize that it’s perfectly sensible to think Lee might have been both mentally unstable and influenced by environmentalist rhetoric to go to this extreme because he was hearing and interpreting all of it through a mental state that was imbalanced to begin with.
Sane people, they may perfectly well suddenly see the sensibility of telling us, don’t think holding hostages in a Discovery Channel office is a proper way to deal with global warming, pollution, and wildlife extinction, even if everything Lee said about them was correct. Suddenly, someone taking extreme actions in part due to mental illness, and latching on to a political ideology at the same time, don’t seem so mutually exclusive. The vast majority of people who care about wildlife extinction or consider pollution a serious issue still don’t go holding hostages at news stations. The vast majority of people who believe the trial against George Zimmerman was a politically motivated farce or believe double standards are expressed when the media spends months on end searching and distorting every possible aspect of this case for racism that turned out to be nonexistent (see below) while downplaying or ignoring countless more cases of black–on–white violence over the same period of time still don’t think trying to initiate an all–out “race war” is a good idea. What makes the people who do these things, in either case, different? Mental illness is one perfectly reasonable possibility.
On February 10, 2015, a white man in Chapel Hill, North Carolina walked into the home of three Syrian– and Jordanian–Americans, killing them execution–style. A few early reports claimed in haste that the man, Craig Stephen Hicks, was a “Christian terrorist.” In fact, Hicks turned out to be not only an atheist whose Facebook profile photo was the LGBT–themed “Atheists for Equality” and whose Facebook cover photo pronounced in bold letters his “ANTI–THEISM,” but a long–standing fan of progressive causes ranging from “HuffPost Black Voices” to “Forward Progressives” to “The Atheist Empathy Campaign,” to Rachel Maddow and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
How did the writers at Alternet respond? By stating that, that while many have “portrayed Hicks as a liberal, by reporting his Facebook likes included Rachel Maddow, gay marriage groups, Neil deGrasse Tyson and others … that relabeling is absurd on many levels, because Hicks appears to fit the psychological profile of violent extremists—regardless of their ideological stripes….” Once again: suddenly the fact that violent extremists might fit a certain psychological profile regardless of their ideological stripes isn’t so foreign to progressives.
Meanwhile, searching Google for the words “Craig Stephen Hicks mental illness” returns a mere fourteen pages of results, most of which note that Hicks’ ex–wife believed he had a mental illness (video) and add that his current wife’s divorce attorney observed that it’s obviously “not within the range of normal behavior for someone to shoot three people over parking issues,” and the rest of which either pick the terms up across unrelated articles or catch comments like one Sheikh Muhammad Arslan’s at Buzzfeed: “This douche–bag can’t get away with it because he has a “’mental illness”’ and “’issues in his oh-so-difficult life” etc.” Where in God’s name is this epidemic of white people justifying white violence by excusing it as mental illness?!
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As happens so often, the author of the Salon piece’s interest in race isn’t merely misguided, it becomes so narrowly overemphasized that it overshadows the truth about other, highly important questions. The author writes: ““The real issue is mental illness” is a goddamn cop–out. I almost never hear it from actual mental health professionals, or advocates working in the mental health sphere, or anyone who actually has any kind of informed opinion on mental health….”
If Arthur Chu thinks mental illness is “a goddamn cop–out,” then Arthur Chu doesn’t know what he’s goddamn talking about. He worries that “the stigma of people who suffer from mental illness as scary, dangerous potential murderers hurts people every single day….” When most of us worry about mental illness in an event like this, we aren’t worrying about a diagnosis of dysthymia or social anxiety; we’re worried about extreme cases of things like psychosis and schizophrenia. And do you know who else hurts people every single day? Psychotics and schizophrenics.
A 2009 meta–analysis, “Psychosis as a risk factor for violence to others”, found that “compared with individuals with no mental disorders, people with psychosis seem to be at a substantially elevated risk for violence … [Psychosis is] significantly associated with a 49%–68% increase in the odds of violence.” A 2007 study, “Major Mental Disorders and Violence”, states that “recent longitudinal investigations reported … community violence related to [major medical disorders] … reaching 15% to 20%.” A 2010 study in Sweden, “Bipolar disorder and violent crime”, found that among 3700 individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder, 8.4% had committed at least one act of violence, compared to 3.5% of the general population. A 2009 study in the same area, “Schizophrenia, substance abuse, and violent crime”, found that the number for schizophrenics was 13.2% (although concurrent use of drugs accounted for some of this increase).
But a 2011 study, “Mental disorder and violence: is there a relationship beyond substance use?”, confirmed that “those with [serious mental illnesses], irrespective of substance abuse status, were significantly more likely to be violent than those with no mental or substance use disorders.” A British study published in 1998, “A ten-year follow-up of criminality in Stockholm mental patients”, found that 40% of people discharged from mental hospitals had a criminal record, compared to 10% of the general population. At the same time in Finland, “Schizophrenia, alcohol abuse, and violent behavior: a 26-year follow-up study of an unselected birth cohort” was published, finding that of over 11,000 men with schizophrenia followed for 26 years, those without alcoholism were 3.6 times more likely to commit a violent crime than a member of the general population, whereas schizophrenic alcoholics were a whopping 25.2 times more likely.
“The relationship of mental illness to homicide” found that 10% of all homicides that occurred in Contra Costa County in California between 1978–1980 had a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Another study, “Violence by people discharged from acute psychiatric inpatient facilities and by others in the same neighborhoods”, found that 17.4% of patients were violent in the 10 weeks prior to treatment, compared to 8.9% for the following 50 weeks after treatment. Do I still need to keep going? Are you wondering who these people are with “informed opinions on mental health” Arthur Chu apparently has so many conversations with yet?
Mental illness is a serious issue, and it does have a relationship with violence. Regardless whether it even bears any relevance to Roof’s particular case (and again, I haven’t seen even a single person seriously suggest that it did to begin with), that’s worth being aware of, and it’s worth keeping in mind, and it’s worth looking for evidence for. The “real problems” Chu thinks it distracts us away from are, of course, rooted in Chu’s own blinkered, partisan worldview which spins cosmological narratives out of the actions of Eliot Rodgers and Dylann Roof while conveniently forgetting about those of people like James Lee, Floyd Corkins, Karl Pierson, or the DC snipers—or even 44–year–old female Professor Amy Bishop who shot and killed six colleagues execution–style after she was denied tenure at the University of Alabama for erratic behavior and inadequate research (it later turned out that an incident previously ruled to have been an accident wasn’t: it turned out she had killed her 18–year–old brother with a shotgun when she was 21). Again, as Alternet itself knows, killers tend to fall into a particular “psychological profile … regardless of their ideological stripes … .”
Even Hugo Schwyzer, writing incorrectly about “Why Most Serial Killers Are Privileged White Men” (as I discuss later, in fact they are not), complains that “After Seung–Hui Cho killed 32 people in Blacksburg [at Virginia Tech], media attention focused on the likelihood that a Korean culture unwilling to acknowledge mental illness helped drive the young man to commit the worst mass murder in U.S. history.” Once again, when we do wonder about how mental illness impacted non–white killers, that’s because we’re racists who want to put them down, just like when we wonder about how mental illness impacted white killers, it’s because we’re racists who want to raise them up. Nevermind that the source Hugo references in the hyperlink in that sentence quotes … who’s that, again? “Dong Woo Seo, a physician at Han Byul Mental Hospital in Seoul”. Surely Hugo’s intention was to try to say something about white racial blindness, and not about what Korean physicians who treat mental illness think about how Korean culture treats mental illness?!
As the authors at The American Thinker wrote while discussing the rampage of the renegade black cop Christopher Dorner, “I’ve found that once you’ve restored your patients’ brains to healthy and normal functioning by following the diagnostic and treatment method outlined above, your patients will be doing very well without the psychobabble. People with healthy brains almost invariably find they no longer need to discuss their “issues.” It’s called the indomitable human spirit, and it’s present in every human I’ve ever treated whose brain function has been restored to normalcy….” Chu complains that “When you call someone “mentally ill” in this culture it’s a way to admonish people not to listen to them, to ignore what they say about their own actions and motivations …,” but isn’t that exactly what we should do if someone shoots up a government building and says they did it because the CIA has been following them and listening in through their microwave? Should we necessarily do that any less just because the conspiracy someone latches onto is (as in Chu’s example of John Nash) “International Jewry” instead of the CIA?
More troubling than the association between mental illness and violence is the association between mass shootings and specific psychopharmaceutical drugs—mostly the SSRIs prescribed to handle depression. As this article explains, “Moore and his collaborators extracted all serious events reports from the FDA’s database from 2004 through September 2009, and then identified 484 drugs that had triggered at least 200 case reports of serious adverse events (of any type) during that 69–month period. They then investigated to see if any of these 484 drugs had a “disproportionate” association with violence. They identified 31 such drugs, out of the 484, that met this criteria … [including] 11 antidepressants, 6 hypnotic/sedatives, and 3 drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Antidepressants were responsible for 572 case reports of violence toward others; the three ADHD drugs for 108; and the hypnotic/sedatives for 97.” The fact that some antidepressants, and not others, are associated with these adverse effects even while all produce relapse from depression renders highly implausible that the correlation happens just because people with violent intentions become more capable of acting them out once the drugs restore them to a higher level of functioning: the correlation is not between relapse from depression and violence, but between violence and particular drugs, regardless of how frequently they produce relapse from depression.
Of course, both mental illness and the adverse effects of pharmaceuticals may very well be irrelevant in the case of Dylann Roof. Maybe they aren’t: he was found with suboxone, and while links between suboxone and violent behavior haven’t (to my knowledge) even been studied, a number of anecdotal reports do suggest the possibility. More importantly, even if it is irrelevant in this particular case, granting that holding concern is a racist cop–out will blind us to one very real approach that really could actually save lives in many other cases. If mental illness isn’t relevant to this particular case, then say it isn’t relevant to this particular case—but if you endorse the idiotic rule that even considering it is racist, then the next time mental illness actually is entirely relevant, we won’t notice, and we’ll fail to do something about it when it actually just might have saved a few damn lives, because we’ll be too busy censoring the supposed bigotry that it would represent had we kept an eye out for it.
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The key paragraph of Roof’s racist manifesto explaining his transformation from someone who “was not raised in a racist home or environment” into what he became was this: “The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. I read the Wikipedia article and … It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right. … this prompted me to type in the words “black on White crime” into Google, and I have never been the same since that day. … I was in disbelief. At this moment I realized that something was very wrong. How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on White murders got ignored?”
Do these statements make “whiteness” responsible for Roof’s act of violence? To explore this, we’re going to need some backstory.
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For a random sample of the general impression, Breaking Brown speaks about “Zimmerman’s history of calling 911 to report mostly suspicious black males.” A prevalent belief, especially throughout the early stages of the story—Zimmerman is a wannabe cop, and he’s playing out his action hero fantasies on black people. But what does Zimmerman’s record actually show? Zimmerman made a total of 44 calls in the 8 years leading up to the Trayvon Martin incident. And just 6 of that total involved black suspects. Meanwhile, 2 of those 6 were in regards to the home invasion of Olivia Beltaran—and it was Beltaran who, while hiding in her bedroom, called 911 and described the perpetrators as two black men. Zimmerman brought Beltaran a new deadlock because hers wasn’t working, and later on two separate occasion saw the same two suspects matching Beltaran’s description. And there is evidence that Zimmerman actually had, in fact, identified the correct suspects.
In another one of those cases, “the male appeared to him to be casing Frank Taafe’s house, located at the shortcut from the main road. Zimmerman said the guy kept walking up to Taafe’s house and away from it, and he knew the guy didn’t live there. By the time police arrived, the male had left. Taaffe was out of town.” Zimmerman reported the suspect’s race in this case because “I know the resident, he’s Caucasian”—so the suspect clearly can’t be the home’s owner. Once again, race had a perfectly valid reason for being relevant. Zimmerman wasn’t obsessed with black suspects. The calls he did make about black suspects were perfectly proportionate to the number of black suspects actually committing crimes at Twin Peaks.
The media widely spread the myth that Zimmerman used the phrase “fucking coons” during his 911 call. But, “In the end, Tuchman, the audio expert and special guest host Wolf Blitzer — who was filling in for Anderson Cooper — all agreed that the word in question was “cold,” not the racial slur. … the reason some say that would be relevant, is because it was unseasonably cold in Florida that night and raining….” This also makes a hell of a lot more sense of the “it’s” that can faintly be heard preceding the sentence: “It’s fucking cold” is a much more plausible sentence than “It’s fucking coons.” It turned out that while Zimmerman never used a racial slur towards Martin, Martin did use one towards Zimmerman—and regardless of the comparative offensiveness of anti–white and anti–black racial slurs, if these would have told us something about Zimmerman’s state of mind, so they should tell us something about Martin’s.
Even more egregiously, when Zimmerman calls 911, he isn’t sure about Martin’s race—he has that famous hoodie on, after all, and it’s raining and dark and Zimmerman is somewhere behind the hoodie’d Martin in a vehicle. At 0:08, Zimmerman simply describes Martin as “a real suspicious guy.” At 0:27, the dispatcher asks: “Okay, and this guy, is he black, white, or Hispanic?” Zimmerman responds with a very clear note of uncertainty: “He LOOKS black,” in a tone that implies a following “BUT I’m not entirely sure.” My interpretation of Zimmerman’s tone at this point is bolstered by the fact that when Martin turns back in Zimmerman’s direction and starts scoping him out at 1:00, allowing Zimmerman the first chance at getting a closer, and more head–on look, Zimmerman takes the first opportunity to (at 1:10) confirm, “And he’s a black male.”
When NBC first presented this audio, they literally edited the tape to give the very overwhelming—and overwhelmingly misleading—impression that Zimmerman brought up Martin’s race both immediately and unprompted, opening the call by saying: “He looks up to no good. He LOOKS black.” (See this YouTube video for a comparison, and skip to 1:28 to NBC’s edit first.)
Lost in all this hysteria were details like the fact that two years earlier, in 2010, Zimmerman had protested, passed out fliers to black churches, and even spoke at an NAACP meeting agitating to bring repercussions to a cop who punched a homeless black man and failed to be charged or punished for the incident despite video evidence. (“Collison turned himself in … on Jan. 3, 2011 [and] agreed to pay for Ware’s medical bills and make donations to nonprofit organizations, including the NAACP.”)
When the Zimmerman/Martin case first broke, those who were paying attention in 2012 will remember that the media heavily relied on these two photos of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, in presenting the case:
Who could possibly believe there was any plausibility to Zimmerman’s version of events—on which it was Martin who doubled back after Zimmerman to tackle him to the ground—with these images flashing at them every time the case was discussed? Without question, what we saw was a systematic pattern of lies and distortions during the early period of reporting about this case. Had the bias ran in the other direction, it would have looked like this, and few would have failed to recognize how offensively and manipulatively distorted the images were:
In fact, this comparison would have been more accurate than the photos that were actually used (though still unreasonable—photos shouldn’t be chosen to sway opinion in either direction), as both of the above photos were much more recent than the ones that were used. Suddenly, Zimmerman’s version of events would have appeared far more plausible and worth taking seriously—it might not have seemed so obvious to the public that Zimmerman must have stalked Martin straight down and shot him in cold blood.
An even more recent and realistic comparison less biased to either side might have looked something like:
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In general, the most central complaint about Zimmerman’s actions is the supposition that he followed Martin, directly provoking the final confrontation by cornering Martin down a dark road or alleyway even if he didn’t throw the first punch. Frequently, this complaint adds that Zimmerman did this against police orders that he stay in his car, which Zimmerman deliberately obeyed. So let’s take a listen to the actual 911 call and see what answers we can determine about that. From 0:00 to 1:35, Zimmerman gives his complaint that “it looks like [this guy is] on drugs or something. It’s raining, and he’s just walking around looking about … just staring … and now he’s staring at me!” In response to questions, he gives description to the dispatcher of Martin’s appearance and location.
Notably, the dispatcher never says anything about whether or not Zimmerman can, or should, get out of his car. At 1:35, we hear movement: the sound of the chime of a car with an open door, followed by Zimmerman’s car door shutting. He sighs and says with a tone of passive resignation, “Ahhh, they always get away…” At 1:45, Zimmerman is only now doing what could possibly be called “following” Martin—we can very clearly hear the sound of wind rushing through Zimmerman’s phone.
And the dispatcher continues asking questions about Martin’s location—while getting out of his car, Zimmerman says: “He’s down towards the, uh, the entrance of the neighborhood.” The dispatcher asks: “Okay. Which entrance is that that he’s heading towards?” And Zimmerman responds: “The back entrance.” Only now, presumably in response to the unmistakable sound of wind rushing through the speakers for the last ten seconds, the dispatcher at 1:54 asks, “Are you following him?” And Zimmerman responds, “Yeah.” The dispatcher replies again: “Okay. We don’t need you to do that.” And at 2:00, Zimmerman calmly says, “Okay.”
Nevermind that, as the dispatcher himself testified, this was just a “suggestion” in the first place—not so much any kind of command as a ‘we don’t need you to do that’—‘that isn’t a requirement for our purposes.’ An actual quote from the testimony: “We’re directly liable if we give a direct order … We always try to give general basic … not commands, just suggestions.” So, “We don’t need you to do that” is different than a more direct “Don’t do that.”
At 2:05–2:10, the dispatcher asks: “Alright, sir, what is your name?” And Zimmerman responds: “George.” After a slight pause, he adds: “ … He ran.” And at this point, the sound of wind rushing through the phone stops entirely. So, assuming that the wind only rushed through Zimmerman’s speakers while he was speed–walking in the direction Martin was running, and never simply when the breeze blew Zimmerman’s way, the total evidence we have for Zimmerman “stalking” Martin is a maximum 25 seconds, the full duration for which Martin was either nearly or completely out of Zimmerman’s sight. And Zimmerman actually does stop after the dispatcher informs him that following Martin isn’t necessary, even though this was not an order, nor even a request that he stop—merely letting Zimmerman know that the dispatchers don’t require him to do it. Zimmerman does in fact stop, at this point, anyway.
A far cry from the suggestion that Zimmerman compelled Martin to fight back by stalking him down into a corner.
And these distortions were not a coincidence. A report from Ernhardt Graeff, Matt Stempeck, and Ethan Zuckerman titled “The battle for ‘Trayvon Martin’: Mapping a media controversy online and off–line” investigated the “phases” of reporting on the case. After a first “act” that consisted solely of local reporting within Florida, “The second “act” of the story begins on 7–8 March, ten days after Martin’s death, when the story received a new wave of media attention from two of the national media’s largest outlets … This resurgence in interest was the direct result of efforts to publicize the story. Martin’s family was able to enlist the legal services of civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump on a pro bono basis. Crump had taken on a previous civil rights case and failed to convict, which he attributed to an inadequate media strategy prior to the trial itself (Caputo, 2012). Crump brought on local lawyer Natalie Jackson, who enlisted the pro bono services of publicist Ryan Julison. … Within a day of joining the effort, Julison attracted significant media coverage. He began reaching out to the largest national media sources (as measured by audience reach) and worked his way down until he found interest from Reuters and CBS This Morning. … Huffington Post, … an important early amplifier…, misreported that Zimmerman was white….” They conclude that “broadcast media … is susceptible to media activists working through participatory media to co–create the news and influence the framing of major controversies. … Benjamin Crump’s strategy to focus PR efforts on broadcast media with national reach was astute.”
It is this kind of media network dedicated solely to bringing attention and outrage to (supposed) black victims that is lacking in cases like Dillon Taylor’s which lead to disproportionate awareness of black and white victims of police brutality (and interracial civilian violence) as a whole. Even more background on the story of how the same lawyer who later took over the Michael Brown case and invested his defense in the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” lie worked with a PR company (with a history of sleights of truth of its own) to spin their narrative fast to the mainstream media to create the distortions of truth that marked the early stages of awareness of the Zimmerman/Martin case can be found (albeit with more partisan polemic than I’d have preferred) at The Conservative Treehouse.
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So, what happened after the end of the phone call?
Zimmerman ended his phone call with police at 7:15pm.
That leaves hardly two minutes for Zimmerman and Martin to encounter each other, and for the entire fight to run its course, for which we don’t have direct observational evidence. However, what we do have are very straightforward lines of surrounding evidence that make an account of what actually happened in this two minutes very clear.
One of the most relevant details produced by the prosecution’s key witness, Rachel Jeantel, was this: “I asked [Trayvon Martin] where he at. He told me he at the back of his daddy fiancee house like in the area where his daddy fiancee — by his daddy fiancee house. I said, you better keep running. He said, no, he lost him.”
We can combine that with the addresses of known locations to create a geographical timeline of events.
1 is the first location which Zimmerman gives the dispatcher immediately after beginning his phone call to 911 (1111 Retreat View Circle; the clubhouse).
2 is the approximate location at which Zimmerman parked his car, though it may have been closer to 1 than this. (“If they come in through the gate, tell them to go straight past the club house, and uh, straight past the club house and make a left, and then they go past the mailboxes, that’s my truck”).
3 is the location at which Zimmerman ended his phone call to 911—in the 25 seconds during which Zimmerman “follows” Martin before stopping in response to the dispatcher’s statement, the distance he travels is from 2 to 3.
4 is the location of Brandy Latreca Green (Martin’s “daddy’s fiancee”)’s home, where Martin was staying. (Per the NYT).
5 is where the police arrived to find Zimmerman bloodied and Martin unresponsive.
Now, the autopsy found that the only injuries on Trayvon’s body apart from the gunshot were those on his own knuckles. The responding officer observed that the back of Zimmerman’s jacket was wet and covered in grass, consistent with Zimmerman’s account that Martin had pinned him to the ground. There were lacerations to the back of his head exactly consistent with his account that Martin was shoving his head into the concrete—call Zimmerman’s injuries minor all you want; but if his injuries were minor, he was lucky. Anyone who doesn’t think this is a perfectly valid situation in which to become afraid for your life is an idiot: it takes almost nothing (warning: violent video) to take someone out this way—a single lucky hit this way can easily kill you, render you unconscious long enough to allow an assailant to kill you by some other means, or simply leave you alive with traumatic brain injury for the rest of your life.
More importantly, Zimmerman consistently stated that he didn’t know where Trayvon Martin was, right up until the very end of the phone call at (3) when he declines to tell the dispatcher his address for that reason—and Rachel Jeantel testified that he had made it back to the back yard of his daddy’s fiancee’s house (4) when the call dropped. This means the final showdown could not have happened unless Martin doubled back after Zimmerman. The known evidence therefore does not even allow for the interpretation that Zimmerman approached Martin first. While the skin on Martin’s knuckles was broken, Zimmerman had no injuries consistent with aggressive violence. Together, all these facts make it clear that it could only have been Zimmerman’s voice screaming for help on the ensuing neighborhood 911 calls.
All of this backs the complaint against Zimmerman up all the way back to “he shouldn’t have called the cops at all.” People who use this critique have probably never lived in a gated community. Every single entrance to Twin Lakes features the following sign, making it perfectly clear to every visitor what rules apply once inside: “We report all suspicious persons….”
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Part 2: Interracial Crime — Who is Targeting Who? And How Significant Is It?
“According to data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), an estimated 320,082 whites were victims of black violence in 2010, while 62,593 blacks were victims of white violence. That same year, according to the Census Bureau, the white and black populations in the U.S. were 196,817,552 and 37,685,848, respectively. Whites therefore committed acts of interracial violence at a rate of 32 per 100,000, while the black rate was 849 per 100,000. In other words, the “average” black was statistically 26.5 times more likely to commit criminal violence against a white, than vice versa. Moreover, blacks who committed violent crimes chose white victims 47.7% of the time, whereas whites who committed violent crimes targeted black victims only 3.9% of the time.
For many years and for a wide variety of crimes, this pattern has been among the most consistent findings of criminal-justice research. Nationwide in 2010, there were approximately 67,755 black-on-white aggravated asaults, as compared to just 1,748 white-on-black crimes of the same description. Thus, blacks committed acts of interracial aggravated assault at a rate of 181 per 100,000—fully 201 times higher than the white rate of 0.9 per 100,000. Moreover, blacks guilty of aggravated assault chose white victims 44.1% of the time, while whites who committed aggravated assault selected black victims only six–tenths of 1% of the time.
Also in 2010, there were approximately 13,463 black-on-white rapes … Blacks guilty of rape chose white victims 50.2% of the time … By contrast, the number of white–on–black rapes … reported in the NCVS surveys were so infinitesimal, that in each case whites were estimated to have accounted for 0.0% of all rapes and robberies committed against black victims in the United States.” (Source)
Does this mean black criminals more frequently specifically target white victims? The first thing we’d have to control for in order to see that is population rate: “One reason multiples for interracial crime are so high is that there are about 5.5 times as many whites as blacks in the United States. This means blacks are 5.5 times more likely to encounter whites than the other way around, so even if blacks choose victims without regard to race, there are many more potential white than black victims. White criminals are also more likely to have white victims for the same reason. …
… To understand how population differences skew interracial crime rates, imagine a society of 100,000 people that is 90 percent white, 10 percent black, and perfectly integrated. For both blacks and whites, 90 percent of the people they meet are white and 10 percent are black. Imagine that everyone commits one crime per year against someone without regard to race. The 10,000 blacks would commit 10,000 crimes but with 9,000 against whites, making the interracial crime rate 9,000/ 10,000, or 0.9 for blacks. Whites would commit 90,000 crimes, of which 9,000 would be against blacks, making the interracial crime rate 9,000/90,000, or 0.1 for whites.
Thus, even though blacks had no greater inclination to commit interracial crime than whites, the black rate of interracial crime would be nine times the white rate simply because there are nine times as many whites as blacks available as victims. Dividing the black interracial crime rate of 0.9 by nine gives us 0.1, which was the white interracial crime rate. We can make the same calculation for the United States by using 5.5 instead of nine. Interestingly, although blacks and whites are not perfectly integrated, and segregation varies considerably by neighborhood, the same figure of 5.5 applies everywhere. This is because segregation decreases blacks’ contact with whites, but it also decreases whites’ contact with blacks by exactly the same amount. Segregation, whatever its degree, therefore does not change the relative likelihood of blacks encountering whites and vice versa. …
… Dividing the multiples in Figure 18 by 5.5 corrects for this difference in populations, and the results are shown in the black bars in Figure 19. Even when likelihood of encounter is considered, blacks are still much more likely to commit crime against whites than the reverse. They are, for example, 25 times more likely to rob a white than vice versa.
This is still not clear evidence blacks are targeting whites. Not only are there 5.5 times more potential white victims for black criminals—this is what is adjusted for by dividing the white bars in Figure 18 by 5.5—but blacks commit crimes of violence in general at far greater rates than whites. The huge multiples found in Figure 18 could therefore be the combined result of these two things: a larger number of potential white than black crime victims and much higher black rates of violent crime regardless of the race of the victim.
The black bars in Figure 19 must therefore be divided again, this time by the black/white multiples for the overall rates for each crime, which are represented by the gray bars. The results are shown in the white bars in Figure 19. In the case of aggravated assault, the result is just over one, which means the disproportions in black–on–white assault are almost entirely explained by the fact that there are more white potential victims and blacks commit this crime at a higher rate than whites. However, for the other crimes, the ratio is greater than one—1.66 for robbery and 7.4 for rape—suggesting that something else is contributing to much higher rates of black–on–white than white–on–black crime. The fact that these interracial crime multiples remain even after controlling for population differences and overall racial differences in crime rates suggests either that blacks do target whites for crime, white criminals deliberately avoid black victims, or some combination of the two.
… The NCVS also permits an examination of inter-racial crime from a different angle. Figure 20 tells us, for example, that of all violent crimes committed by blacks, 45 percent were against whites, 43 percent against blacks, and ten percent against Hispanics. Blacks therefore commit slightly more violent crime against whites than against blacks. Unlike an analysis of interracial crime—in which increased segregation decreases opportunities for interracial crime for blacks and whites equally—the proportion of victims of black criminals who are white is very much influenced by segregation. Criminals tend to prey on people in their neighborhoods, and underclass blacks who commit violent crimes are likely to live in neighborhoods that are overwhelmingly black. Their friends and associates are likely to be black, and the people they meet in chance encounters are likely to be black. A large number of white victims suggests targeting of whites. As Figure 21 shows, “whites” commit only a small percentage of their violent crimes against blacks—only one percent of rapes and three percent of all violent crimes. Since blacks make up 13 percent of the population, this is well below the rate expected by chance encounter.”
(Note: in a future post, I’ll address the evidence for and against the claim that poverty causes crime.)
Could the higher representation of black–on–white rapes amongst interracial rapes be accounted for by disparities in interracial relationships? Perhaps some—but nowhere even potentially close to all. Here’s why: “Blacks guilty of rape chose white victims 50.2% of the time….” But when black men marry, they only marry white women 4.6% of the time. The rate of interracial dating could be larger than this, in theory, if black men are much more likely to marry black women they date than they are to marry white women they date, or if those particular black men who date white women are both much more likely to commit rape and much less likely to marry in general—but certainly this number would still, even granting those assumptions, come anywhere close to 50%. And there is absolutely no reason to think this assumption is actually true, anyway. Comparing black man–white woman (BM:WW) to white man–black woman (WM:BW) marriages suggests similar implications: in 2009, there were 354,000 BM:WW marriages compared to 196,000 WM:BW marriages. In other words, there are only about 1.8 times more BM:WW than WM:BW marriages—but there are clearly far more than 1.8 times more black–on white rapes in the United States each year than the reverse. In fact, there are at least 839 times more.
Not only are the numbers of black–on–white rapes not accounted for by interracial relationship rates, they aren’t even accounted for by combining the larger number of potential white victims with the fact that black perpetrators rape more frequently in general. Even more significantly, if these rates were explained in any way by poverty, why would black perpetrators choose white victims for acts of rape more frequently than they choose white victims for acts of robbery? Recall, as we’ve just seen, that the multiple for rape was 7.4 whereas the multiple for robbery was just 1.66.
Finally, somewhere between 15 to 25% of violent rapes committed in the United States are gang rapes, and as a Bureau of Justice Statistics report observes, “Strangers accounted for nearly 20% of the victimizations involving a single offender but 76% of the victimizations involving multiple offenders.” We find in another BJS report that in 2008, black offenders were responsible for 52.4% of all “multiple–offender sexual assaults” (see Table 48). However, no federal database keeps statistics on the race of victims of “multiple–offender sexual assaults”—even though they do tell us that “strangers” are selected more often, suggesting a reasonable possibility that the preference of black gang rapists for white victims could very well be even larger than the preference for white victims is for black rapists in general (the white:black ratio of strangers will almost always be larger for any given black individual in the United States than the white:black ratio of known acquaintances). Is there a reason why race is reported for the offenders and victims in other cases, yet the statistics on gang rapes tell us the race of offenders but not victims? The race of victims of gang rape appears to be the only category here in which data on race is completely left out of the federal reports (unless I’ve overlooked it buried somewhere amongst all that data).
Black rapists openly confessing to deliberately choosing to target white victims from racial motivation is hardly unheard of. Leroy Elridge Cleaver, who went on to become one of the most prominent members of the Black Panther Party, wrote a book in 1968 that was praised by the New York Times at the time as “brilliant and revealing”. In the fourth thematic section, titled “White Woman, Black Man”, he wrote: “[W]hen I considered myself ready enough, I crossed the tracks and sought out white prey. I did this consciously, deliberately, willfully, methodically … Rape was an insurrectionary act. It delighted me that I was defying and trampling upon the white man’s law, upon his system of values, and that I was defiling his women … I felt I was getting revenge. From the site of the act of rape, consternation spread outwardly in concentric circles. I wanted to send waves of consternation throughout the white race.”
Similarly, research on prisons finds that prison rape is in fact largely an act of black–on–white racial revenge—thus making prison rape an “institutional” form of suffering of which both whites, and men, are disproportionately likely to be the victims: “The fact remains that blacks continually and almost exclusively rape whites in prison. The evidence is based on studies conducted over the last 40 years (Davis 1968; Nacci 1978; Lookwood 1980; Starchild 1990). Why does this white victim preference prevail? Whites continue to be raped more severely and frequently and at a disproportionate rate than any other racial or ethnic group (in Gones 1967; Bowker 1980; Lookwood 9180). This racial inequality may be the largest in any violent crime committed in the United States. Rape in prison is rarely a sexual act, but one of violence, politics, and acting out power roles (Rideau and Wikberg 1992, p. 75). The act of rape in the ultra masculine world in prison constitutes the ultimate humiliation visited upon a male by forcing him to assume the role of a woman.
In American prisons, studies by sociologists suggest that more than 90% of rapes are inter-racial and may be motivated more by a need for sexual dominance over another race than by sexual passions (Starchild 1990, p. 145). Many rapes are by blacks on whites, suggesting that it is gives the lower–class black, who has felt trod upon all his life, his one chance to dominate a white person (Starchild 1990, p. 145). Consequently, the victims are almost always young white prisoners. Scacco (1982, p. 91) has also noted a disproportionate number of black aggressors and white victims in studies of sexual assaults in jails and prisons. Even if the minority of prisoners are black, the minority of victims are white (Sacco 1982, p. 91). When Lookwood (1980, p. 28) asked ‘targets’ to identify their aggressors at the time of their rape, most were black (80%), some were Hispanic (14%), and a few were white (6%).”
Once again, it is clear here that population rates do not account for the disparity. “Although many causation factors have been suggested for prison rape, they are all overshadowed by the racial categories of the victims and the rapists. Prison rape has been shown throughout this study to be racially motivated by predominantly black inmates specifically against white inmates who in turn are the victims. Although more studies need to be conducted to confirm this theory, racial hatred of whites by blacks appears to be the main force driving prison rape. In fact, the US Department of Justice (1991, p. 15) noted that black (57%) and Hispanic (51%) violent inmates were at least four times more likely than white (11%) violent inmates to have victimized someone of a different race or ethnic group.”
And this is true in prisons even though racial representation in the prison population comes far closer to parity than it does in the general population. When blacks are a minority of the general population, this is used to explain why black criminals end up with a disproportionate number of white victims. Yet, when blacks are a majority of the prison population, this, too is used to explain why black prison rapists end up with a disproportionate number of white victims. You can’t have it both ways. Deliberate targeting of white victims is very clearly a dramatic factor in interracial rates of rape. And why should the psychological factors confirmed to exist in the dynamics of rape inside prisons be any different when those same criminals are outside prison walls?
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In an August 25, 2013 post titled Nazi’s Can’t Do Math: Reflections on Racism, Crime and the Illiteracy of Right-Wing Statistical Analysis, Tim Wise attempts to counter claims of this sort, and in the process demonstrates some innumeracy (which is the proper term for an inability to read statistics, not illiteracy—although it may be a form of illiteracy to fail to understand the difference between the meanings of the words illiteracy and innumeracy) of his own.
First, he rightly notes that the data “suggest that only a ridiculously small percentage of African Americans will kill anyone in a given year.” I’ll quote the whole paragraph, because at least on this point he’s correct, and this point is important (even though Wise would prove himself to be an inconsistent hypocrite were someone else to emphasize the same point with regards to rates of police shootings of minorities): “In 2010, since there were 42 million African Americans in the population, for there to have been 8,384 black murderers (and even if we assumed that each of these were separate and unique persons — i.e., there were no repeat offenders, which is unlikely), this would mean that at most, about 2 one–hundreths of one percent of all blacks committed homicide that year. So to fear black people generally, given numbers like these, is truly absurd.”
He goes on, however, to try to address the relative rates of interracial violence—and here’s where it gets truly absurd. He observes that “one could argue … that these figures clearly indicate that blacks are much more homicidal than whites. So, while the per capita homicide offending rate for blacks may be only 0.02 percent, the rate for whites is much smaller: only about 0.003 percent, or 3 one–thousandths of one percent (5,953 white murderers as a percentage of 196.8 million whites). This means that the homicide offending rate for blacks is about 6.8 times higher than the rate for whites.”
His counter–argument, however, is this: “704 whites killed by blacks, as a percentage of the white population in 2010 (196.8 million) was a whopping 0.00036% of all whites who were killed by a black person that year. This comes out to about 1 white person out of every 277,000 who were killed by a black person in 2010. … 413 blacks killed by whites, as a percentage of the black population in 2010 (42 million) was 0.001% of all blacks who were killed by a white person that year. This equates to about 1 black person out of every 100,000 who were killed by a white person in 2010. In other words, although interracial homicides are incredibly rare in either direction, any given black person in the United States is about 2.8 times more likely to be killed by a white person than any given white person is to be murdered by a black person.”
To plug in numbers and words to John Derbyshire’s explanation of what’s wrong with this seemingly shocking number, suppose a population of 150,000 people (N) has 125,000 whites
The total number of black murders of white victims will then be the black potential–killer population divided by 1000, multiplied by the white potential–victim percentage of the population, which is (25,000/1000) × (125,000/150,000). This comes out to 25 × 0.833…, resulting in the final number of black–on–white murders: 20.833. Likewise, the total number of white murders of black victims will be the white potential–killer population divided by 1000, multiplied by the black potential–victim percentage of the population, which is (125,000/1000) × (25,000/150,000). This comes out to 125 × 0.166…, resulting in a final number of white–on–black murders: 20.833. Can you see what just happened? The number in both cases is the same. That’s because both (W/M) × (B/N) and (B/M) × (W/N) are the same thing as (B×W) / (M×N).
But because this same number of murders are committed by very different relative proportions of the population, the relative risks of being victimized by white or black killers are not equivalent. On the assumption of equal murder rates, one in 1200 (from 25,000 ÷ 20.833) blacks will be murdered by whites, whereas one in 6000 (from 125,000 ÷ 20.833) whites will be murdered by blacks. One in 1200 blacks being murdered by whites can be expressed as five in 6000 blacks being murdered by whites, so look what that means: if one in 6000 whites will be murdered by blacks, while five in 6000 blacks will be murdered by whites, that means that on perfectly neutral assumptions, any given black person should be expected to be five times more likely to be killed by a white murderer than any given white person is to be killed by a black murder. The fact that Tim Wise finds that, in reality, the actual statistic is “less than three times more likely” sounds meaningful if you don’t know what you’re supposed to be comparing it to in order to make sense of it. But the number he finds is actually less than the assumption that people are equally likely to murder any given individual they encounter would lead us to expect. That point doesn’t work in his favor; it works against it.
There is a very basic underlying concept that is being glossed over here.
Take any given black person. Let’s call him Jamal. One question is whether Jamal is more likely to be killed by a white murderer. A separate question is what the risk is that Jamal, our given black person, will be killed by any given, particular black or white individual he encounters. The statistic Wise focuses on here is the former—which is an absolutely elementary mistake. I’m going to use a terrible, no good, very bad analogy to make my point—understand that I’m exaggerating here for effect to make the point as vivid as possible (for God’s sake, I’m not saying encountering an African–American is exactly like encountering a bear): the risk that your life is going to end in a car accident is much higher than the risk that you’re going to be mauled to death by a bear, in the specific sense that far more people die annually in the United States in car accidents than they do in bear attacks. And yet, that simply has no bearing (no pun intended) whatsoever on the question of whether any given encounter with a bear is more or less likely to kill you than any given ride in an automobile—if you’re being approached by a bear and you have the option of driving away in a vehicle, the fact that more people die annually in car accidents in no way, shape, or form makes it more rational for you to choose to sit next to the bear instead of driving away. Again, black people aren’t as dangerous as bears and most certainly all white people aren’t as safe as a car ride, but that’s still the essence of exactly the fallacy Wise is committing.
The other argument Wise makes is even more obviously absurd. He argues that it’s “precisely because the black homicide offending rate is so much higher than the rate for whites (as noted above, 6.8 times higher) [that] we should expect the black–on–white homicide numbers to be much higher than they were, relative to the white–on–black numbers.” Say what? The argument here is supposed to be that it doesn’t matter that half of all white murder victims in the United States are killed by black murderers, despite the fact that the latter are less than 15% of the United States population, because black murderers kill so many more black victims at the same time that—hey—it evens out. The biggest problem here should be glaringly obvious: you can change the black murder rate by changing the number of black victims killed by black murderers as much as you want, and it doesn’t change the relative risk that any given white person faces from black versus white potential murderers a whit—what happens “there” simply isn’t relevant statistically to what happens “here”. The second problem should be fairly obvious in light of the rest of the discussion held here: murder is the one crime for which a wide majority of perpetration is within–race. Black murderers kill white victims only about 15% of the time, but black rapists choose white victims around 50% of the time. If we’re wondering whether black criminals intentionally target white victims, murder is the one crime we have the least possible reason to ask that about—so it isn’t actually a test of the hypothesis at all. I’ve presented more serious reasoning above to show that a fairly significant amount of deliberate targeting of white victims in black crime is extremely probable—and the numbers suggest that this is so for rape several times more than it is even for robbery.
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Amongst the cases reported by the Council of Conservative Citizens—which, for the most part, merely links to reports elsewhere, as you can see in the following link—is this case in 2014 in which three black men raped a white woman in public after a rap concert in Indiana. “A witness and relative of the victim reported that she came out of the hotel and observed four black males around the victim’s vehicle and a crowd of people, further from the vehicle, laughing and observing the incident. She could hear the victim in the car screaming and telling her assailants “no.” The witness stated she attempted to help, but another male placed a gun to her ribs and told her to “shut up and watch”.”
Is the CCC responsible for Dylann Roof’s actions because they reported this incident? Which is the bigger problem here: an act of gang rape, or the fact that the CCC reported it?
Despite the fact that the rate of black–on–white rape outstrips the reverse so significantly, white concern about black–on–white rape is considered intrinsically racist even though black concern about white–on–black rape is condoned to the point that even after then 15–year–old Tawana Brawley’s claims of having been raped by a gang of white men were determined to have been a hoax she invented by scribbling the words “nigger” and “KKK” onto her own legs in order to avoid punishment by her parents for staying away from home for too many days, figures like Al Sharpton and disbarred black attorney Alton Maddox (who, amongst other things, filed a demonstrably false complaint of racial bias when two white lawyers were chosen to represent a particular defendant over himself— in fact, they had applied for the role and Maddox had not) “still believe her” and can continue to hold forth this case as evidence of how the deck is stacked on rape for whites and against black Americans. Black upset about a blatant hoax is acceptable; white upset about reality is not.
And so the Council of Conservative Citizens is now considered to deserve blame for Roof’s actions simply because they reported the facts that he seized upon and became angry about. Another role reversal is in order to demonstrate the hypocrisy: in late 2014, during the protests surrounding events that had recently taken place in Ferguson, 28–year–old Ismaaiyl Brinsley took to Twitter to declare: “I’m Putting Wings On Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours….. Let’s Take 2 Of Theirs … #RIPMikeBrown … ” before shooting two arbitrarily chosen NYPD officers he had located through the traffic app Waze through their car window, execution–style. If the CoCC is responsible for Roof’s actions merely because they reported the facts which angered him, are the liberals who organized and participated in the Ferguson protests considered responsible for Ismaaiyl Brinsley?
Apparently not even when the claims those protesters’ anger was centered around were finally confirmed by the U.S. Department of Justice itself to have been outright, blatant lies and it turned out to be the case that Officer Darren Wilson had in fact been defending himself from a Michael Brown who first robbed a convenience store, then jaywalked in the middle of the highway, then assaulted Wilson through his car window and attempted to take his gun when Wilson pulled up to ask Brown to move to the sidewalk, and finally turned and charged at Wilson after Wilson pursued to arrest a subject who was now guilty of assault and most likely even attempted murder. Once again, black outrage is condoned even when directed towards blatant hoaxes; whites who are concerned about the possibility that black criminals target white victims for acts such as rape are in the words of Tim Wise “Nazis” who should “starve themselves” and die.
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Statistics on rape like these expose curious tensions within “intersectionalist” feminism—the viewpoint, roughly, that racial and gender–based oppressions overlap to make black women the most unidimensionally oppressed members of American society and white men the most unidimensionally “privileged.”
In general, the tendency of “intersectionalist” viewpoints is to excuse minority crime as a byproduct of “oppression.” In late 2014, a Georgetown University senior was mugged at gunpoint, and in response he wrote an opinion piece for the University’s newspaper title “I Was Mugged, and I Understand Why.” In it, he wrote: “When I walk around at 2 a.m., nobody looks at me suspiciously, and police don’t ask me any questions. I wonder if our attackers could say the same. Who am I to stand from my perch of privilege … [and] condemn these young men … ?”
According to Paul Sperry at the New York Post, in Portland, “after a black high–school boy repeatedly punched his teacher in the face, sending her to the emergency room, the teacher, who is white, was advised by the assistant principal not to press charges. The administrator lectured her about how hard it is for young black men to overcome a criminal record. Worse, she was told she should examine what role she, “as a white woman” holding unconscious racial biases, played in the attack, according to the Willamette (Oregon) Week.” But it can go without saying that this kind of rationalization would not be used to excuse an assault or mugging performed by some low–life redneck piece of white trash—no matter how “poor.”
If a white boy from a trailer park assaulted his female teacher, smashing his fist into her face until he sent her to the emergency room, the message would still be all about male entitlement and misogyny—nevermind if that white boy is effectively just as “structurally” disadvantaged as the black boy in almost every relevant way. Liberals wouldn’t do it, because he’s white and therefore not “structurally” oppressed no matter what the personal conditions of his life were actually like—conservatives wouldn’t do it, because conservatives generally don’t make those kinds of excuses.
When we’re talking about men qua men committing crime, suddenly all the rules that just applied to minority crime—for example, that when and where a given demographic disproportionately perpetrates a certain vile act, this is really a cry for help, or at least a mere symptom of some underlying disease caused by external circumstances which society, and not the perpetrator, is ultimately most responsible for—change. Now, when men rape it is male culture that is the problem—even though this is exactly what no one is allowed to even consider possible about black violence. Rape happens because “Cis male entitlement is embedded in everything in society … pop culture, media … Even while taking public transportation, you’ll always run into men spreading their legs and taking up much more room than they need.”
But when rap contains lines like “I’ll cut your face off, and wear it while I’m fucking your mother” (Black Vikings, Immortal Technique), the liberal response is that suggesting that this kind of content might play any sort of role in the black culture of violence is something only the most ignorant troglodyte could possibly consider. This writer tells us: “[Rap is simply] artistic expression … Yes, rap can be violent and angry, but that’s the nature of art.” Perhaps you think he’s right. Fine—but how the hell can anyone think he’s right and think that the feminists are right about rape being the result of nothing other than men being given ‘cultural messages of entitlement’ which need to end at the same time?!
Because black perpetrators commit disproportionate amounts of rape just as they do for all other crimes, these two tendencies within anti–racist, and feminist, worldviews speed towards head–on collision. Black culture has nothing to do with black rates of violence—and it’s offensive and disgusting to even consider the possibility. Male culture has everything to do with male rates of rape—and it’s offensive and disgusting to even consider otherwise. But black males commit disproportionate amounts of rape. How can all three of these statements simultaneously be true? When men commit rape, it doesn’t happen (by my lights or by the lights of the feminist) because men are disadvantaged, or powerless, or deprived of and desperate for acceptance or affection and—like the black robbers that Oliver Friedfeld “understood”—after enough pain and humiliation they decide to obtain by violent force the basic human needs that weren’t given fairly to them.
Yet, when non–whites commit disproportionate amounts of violent or property crimes, the reasons just rejected in the case of rape are, by the lights of the feminist, exactly the reasons why they do so. But this way of looking at things does a terrible job of explaining why black criminals commit acts of rape just as disproportionately as they commit acts of robbery—and it does a terrible job of explaining why they choose white victims for those acts of rape more often than they choose white victims for acts of robbery—especially if we include the massive number of racially motivated black–on–white prison rapes in that analysis. How can male “culture” explain male rape even while black “culture” does not explain black rape, while poverty and oppression “explain” black robbery but not black rape? Even the most adamant liberal isn’t going to want to say that poverty causes people to rape, and thereby absolves them of moral responsibility for committing it; that it’s society’s fault, and not the rapist’s. They may consider saying that for robbery—but certainly not for rape. In fact, this is exactly what they call “victim blaming” in any other circumstance. But if “black culture” explains rape, why could it not explain other crimes? And if only “male culture” but not “black culture” explains rape, why do black males commit such greater amounts of rape? This haphazardness should make it abundantly clear that the explanations that are officially designated as the requried responses to these questions are motivated by the raw self–interest of identity politics, and not any consistent desire for truth.
I don’t think any of this is a reach. In 2014, a high school football team in Sayreville, New Jersey was caught in a process of hazing that looked a lot more like sexual assault: “It would start with a howling noise from a senior football player at Sayreville War Memorial High School, and then the locker room lights were abruptly shut off … In the darkness, a freshman football player would be pinned to the locker–room floor, his arms and feet held down by multiple upperclassmen. Then, the victim would be lifted to his feet while a finger was forced into his rectum. Sometimes, the same finger was then shoved into the freshman player’s mouth.” Writing at the far–left outlet CounterPunch, Judith Levine says: “If it’s true that all seven of the football players arrested for hazing in the Sayreville, New Jersey, War Memorial High School locker room are students of color, that is one more reason not to prosecute them as sexual felons. I don’t mean not to prosecute them in adult court. I mean not to prosecute them at all. … Sex offenders are harassed … do we need to lock up more black and brown kids?” It’s hardly a stretch to imagine fault lines forming between feminists who think anti–racists aren’t being feminist enough when they fail to “profile” black men as rapists and patronizingly treat them as if they just need to be “taught” that rape is wrong, and anti–racists who think feminists aren’t being anti–racist enough when they fail to excuse black men for violent crimes when and only when those violent acts happen to be directed against women.
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It’s worth making a comparison of the relative rates of police brutality and black–on–white violence in the United States to try to put things in perspective. According to the FBI, there were an average of 14,545 murders per year across the years of 2011–2013. which comes out to an average just shy of 40 murders per day. Since African–Americans commit approximately half of those, and pick white victims about 1/5th of the time, that means there are about four black–on–white murders every day in the United States. White perpetrators commit the other half of murders in the United States, but only choose black victims about 2.4% of the time—which means there is slightly less than one white–on–black murder in the United States every two days.
According to data that does not take statistics reported by police departments for granted, but in fact calls them into question, based on data from the early months of 2015, police kill approximately 2.6 subjects per day—approximately half of which are black, which brings the number down to 1.3 police shootings of black suspects per day.
Of this number, it is unclear how many are justified or unjustified.
According to the FBI, in 2013 police were attacked by someone carrying a weapon roughly 10,000 times—2,200 of those times with a firearm. If police kill 2.6 suspects per day every day for a year, that’s still less than 1000 total killings at the end of the year. Some liberal readers may point to gaps in the data (call it the “racism of the gaps” strategy) and insist on disagreeing, but if police are killing suspects far less frequently than they’re being attacked by them, it seems safe to me to bet that the vast majority of those killings are probably justified.
However, even if we assume that every single one of them was unjustified, combining the number of police shootings of black suspects per day (1.3) with the number of white murders of black victims per day (0.48) would still give us a smaller number (~1.8) than the number of black murders of white victims every day in the United States (~4). More than twice as many black murderers are choosing white victims as the number of white murderers choosing black victims and the number of police shooting black suspects (justified or not) combined.
However, both of these statistics really still need to be taken account of in terms of the wider context that murder only accounts for 0.6% of the deaths in the United States in general. While there are approximately 40 murders, 4 of which are black–on–white, on a typical day in the United States, on the same day 90 Americans will die in car crashes, 110 will commit suicide, 120 will overdose on drugs, 256 will die in accidental falls or other accidents, 1580 will die of cancer and more than 1600 will die of heart attacks. If Roof is concerned about “saving the white race,” then Burger King, cigarettes, drunk driving, wobbly ladders and clinical depression are far more formidable foes than black criminals. But what goes for Roof’s underlying logic goes for “#blacklivesmatter,” too. Tim Wise is right that it’s only a tiny fraction of the black population who commits an act of violence in any given year—the only problem with that is the hypocritical inconsistency we can well know to expect should anyone say the same about racist attacks against black Americans, whether committed by civilians or police, which even combined are still yet only half the size of the fraction of black citizens committing acts of violence Wise himself has just called “tiny.” Whatever goes for the relative insignificance of disproportionate black–on–white violence goes at least twice as much for both white–on–black and police–on–black violence combined.
And it goes even more so for hysteria about mass shootings, which make up only 0.2% of that 0.6% of deaths in America. Furthermore, whites are not disproportionately likely to be the perpetrators; in fact, as with most other crimes, the case is once again in the opposite direction: non–whites are somewhat more likely to perpetrate mass shootings, relative to the population rate. Of the last 22 attacks (from early June of 2009 to the Charleston attack), 10 were perpetrated by non–whites—45% of the total, which surpasses non–whites’ 37% representation of the population across this period of time. If we go back all the way to 1982, the non–white representation of the population from 1982–present is about 28.5%—yet the non–white representation amongst serial killers is 25 out of 70, or 35.7%. The black rate, in particular, is 11 out of 70, or 15.7% (whereas the population as a whole has been roughly 12.2% black across the same period of time).
In that same chart—compiled by the left–wing Mother Jones—you can also see a compilation of statements about the perpetrators’ mental health. And it is obvious that there is a higher incidence of mental illness here than across the general population: Wiliam Cruse in 1987 “suffered from paranoid delusions. A judge found that he suffered from ‘extreme mental illness.’” Colin Ferguson in 1993 “suffered from racial paranoia and was obsessed with nonexistent conspiracies. His landlord said he had ‘delusions of grandeur.’” Nathan Gale in 2004 “was discharged from the military because he was a paranoid schizophrenic.” Jennifer Sanmarco in 2006 “was placed on retirement disability for psychological reasons. Fellow employees described her behavior as increasingly bizarre. She believed the Postal Service employees were conspiring against her.” Maurice Clemmons in 2009 “had a history of erratic, bizarre behavior. He once asked his family to get naked for 5 minutes on Sunday; he said he thought the world would end and that he was Jesus.” Eduardo Sencion in 2011 “was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia as a teenager and feared demons were out to get him.”
The association between mental illness and mass shootings isn’t a “lie”—nevermind one we only entertain for white suspects. The hypocrites who make this accusation suddenly decide that concern about mental illness is a disingenuous way to disregard a perpetrator’s words, whenever we actually do that, and then they turn around and tell us that it’s a disingenuous way to humanize and try to provoke empathy for evil white men when we do it for cases involving them. When writers like those at Jezebel speculate about “Why Most Serial Killers Are Privileged White Men”, the actual answer to that is that they aren’t—and they never have been. A better question would be to ask exactly what bias Jezebel is demonstrating when it incorrectly thinks they are.
In any case, when Roof says “You’re raping our women”, I could perhaps consider supporting his actions had he actually been in a room full of rapists (regardless of their race)—say, had he burst onto a scene of ‘To Catch a Predator’ before opening fire. But his response was racism of the most crudely idiotic form: it is extremely unlikely that any of the three men he killed (nevermind the six women) were actually rapists, just as none of the 3000 people who died in the World Trade Center had any kind of direct responsibility for U.S. military policy. As with bin Laden, the only thing Roof “achieved” is to help to lend support to the impression that anyone who doesn’t rush to demand that all media reporting any of the facts that were involved in his transformation be shut down is inherently dangerous because they are deaf to that same distinction (even though such suspicion never spills over, in the same way, to the actions of people like Christopher Dorner, even when he has thousands of openly enthusiastic admirers). One of the many reasons why Roof’s actions were vile and idiotic is exactly the same reason why we should all agree that if anti–American terrorism is motivated by grievances towards the brutality of U.S. military policy, it is an idiotic response to those concerns: Osama bin Laden’s actions didn’t led to Noam Chomsky being elected head of the Department of Defense or to a worldwide withdrawal of American military bases from all foreign soil; they led to the mindless reflexive jingoism of the War on Terror and an even more dramatic backlash against Islam itself, and to anyone who saw anything plausible in the suggestions of people like Chomsky at all being immediately labeled “anti–American.” There’s no more reason to demand that everyone who opposes that think every single thing Roof’s mind latched onto, or that everything Bin Laden said about U.S. military policy, was illegitimate in order to oppose that than there is to demand that anyone who opposes Floyd Corkins’ attempted mass shooting repudiate the concept of gay marriage, or anyone who opposes Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s cop executions to repudiate #BlackLivesMatter. A very small subset of the American population will commit acts of violence in the name of apparently almost any ideology. And no, it’s far from clear that these people are always sane—regardless what particular ideology they might’ve happened to have latched on to.