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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 the sort which I’ve substantiated in the last entry in this series, 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.” Of course, as we will see, the rate of police shootings of minorities is even smaller than this—and if you’re familiar at all with Tim Wise, you know that there’s no chance in Hell he would apply the same reasoning towards the question of whether it’s absurd or not for minorities to fear police. So however he may apply the point hypocritically, at least right here, he’s correct.
However, he goes on 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.” He’s exactly right—that figure is clearly correct.
His counter–argument for why that’s supposedly invalid, however, is a great example of why we invented the phrase “lies, damn lies, and statistics”. He writes: “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.”
This sounds like a shocking number. Blacks are more likely to be murdered by whites than vice versa!
But how could that possibly be so, when we have already established that: (1) blacks commit a greater proportion of the total violent crime in the United States (about 50% of it); and (2) they choose white victims approximately 50% of the time for most crimes, whereas white criminals choose black victims only about 4% of the time? The most obvious answer is that this statistic doesn’t reflect who is killing whom how often at all; all that it actually reflects is that the black population is smaller, so killing one white individual kills a smaller percentage of the total white population than killing one black individual kills of the total black population. As I’ll show, you’ll expect this number to be larger for blacks even if blacks both kill more in general and very frequently target whites as victims intentionally. And it will turn out that once we plug in the actual numbers, the number we would expect to show up in this formula if there is no deliberate selection of white victims is much larger than the one Wise actually finds when he plugs in these numbers from the real world. To understand that, you’ll have to compare what Wise finds with the real numbers to what we would expect to find in a hypothetical scenario where crime rates are equal across racial groups.
So to put this number back in consonance with the rest of the figures we’ve looked at now, we’ll have to pull our calculators back out again. John Derbyshire explains exactly what is wrong with Tim Wise’s supposedly shocking number—I’ll be plugging my own numbers and words into his explanation to present it in a way I consider much clearer. So, let’s 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.
Let’s take a given black person named Jamal. One question we could ask is whether Jamal is more likely to be die by being killed by a white murderer or a black one. A different question is what the risk is that Jamal is going to be killed by any given, particular black or white individual he encounters. Wise makes the absolutely elementary mistake of focusing on the first question while misleading us into thinking the answers holds any relevance for the second one.
I’m now going to use a terrible, no good, very bad analogy to illustrate my point—understand that I’m exaggerating here for effect to make the point as vivid as possible (and 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 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—he’s telling us that car rides are more dangerous than bears because more people die in them annually, and acting as if that overrides the fact that a lot more encounters with bears kill people than car rides do (compared to the number of times each happens).
The other argument Wise makes is even more clearly 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.”
As we saw in the last entry, we actually can in fact control for that—and we have, and a significant degree of very probably racial targeting of white victims by black criminals still remains. But even still, if a given white person is asking whether a given black or white individual he encounters next is more likely to kill him, it doesn’t matter how many black people that black individual likely kills. That’s like saying I shouldn’t drive away from the bear because, hey, he kills a lot more fish and maybe even other bears than he does people, after all, so he’s not relatively that dangerous to me—no; how many fish he kills just doesn’t bear any relevance whatsoever to how likely he is to kill me. 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 hand at all. I’ve presented more serious reasoning in part 3 to show that a 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 conclusively 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, it turned out that 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 ‘racist’.
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 simply 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 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 buy those kinds of excuses.
When we’re talking about men qua men committing crime, suddenly all the rules that just applied to minority crime change.
In most cases, when a given demographic disproportionately commits a certain crime, this is really a mere symptom of some underlying disease which society, and not the perpetrator, is responsible for; disproportionate crime rates are not something we should treat as a problem that the criminal group is responsible for, but an indication that society is failing the group in question in some significant way, allowing crime to fester by consequence. At least, this is the rule for minorities. But 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?! You can’t. (Actually, Immortal Technique is so popular amongst leftists that Jill Stein even talked about asking him to ber her running mate during the 2016 Green Party Presidential run: “I love Immortal Technique. He has great ideas—we need to hear from more people like him.”
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. Yet, 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.
This isn’t half as much of a reach as it might sound to you. 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?”
Or consider the response of Amanda Kijera, the liberal activist who wrote of her rape in Haiti: “Two weeks ago, on a Monday morning, I started to write what I thought was a very clever editorial about violence against women in Haiti. The case, I believed, was being overstated by women’s organizations in need of additional resources. Ever committed to preserving the dignity of Black men in a world which constantly stereotypes them as violent savages, I viewed this writing as yet one more opportunity to fight “the man” on behalf of my brothers. That night, before I could finish the piece, I was held on a rooftop in Haiti and raped repeatedly by one of the very men who I had spent the bulk of my life advocating for.
… I pleaded with him to honor my commitment to Haiti, to him as a brother in the mutual struggle for an end to our common oppression, but to no avail. He didn’t care that I was a Malcolm X scholar. He told me to shut up, and then slapped me in the face. Overpowered, I gave up fighting halfway through the night. … Not once did I envision myself becoming a receptacle [!] for a Black man’s rage at the white world, but that is what I became. While I take issue with my brother’s behavior, I’m grateful for the experience. … Black men have every right to the anger they feel in response to their position in the global hierarchy, but … women are not the source of their oppression; … the as–yet unaddressed white patriarchy which still dominates the global stage [is].”
So 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. (Meanwhile, there are 16 black murders of black victims every single day across the United States—more than eight times the number of white civilian murders and justified or unjustified police shootings of black victims 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 and misinforms its readers into believing the same falsehood.
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 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.
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Only now can I finally arrive at the point I set out to make in the very beginning of this series.
After the introduction, the rest of Dylann Roof’s manifesto is racism of the most obviously, blatantly crude form. “Many veterans believe we owe them something for “protecting our way of life” or “protecting our freedom”. But im not sure what way of life they are talking about. How about we protect the White race and stop fighting for the jews.” But what shifted Roof towards this perspective?
As M.G. at Those Who Can See points out, ideology might be a red herring—any time ideology seems to be what motivated someone, there almost always turns out to be something much more personal involved. Lee Boyd Malvo gave a jailhouse interview in which he explained how “Muhammad snapped when he lost custody of his children and wanted to get back at his ex–wife.” His ex–wife, Mildred Muhammad, wrote a book titled ‘Scared Silent’ in which she explained how John Allan Muhammad ”began plotting against her after she won custody of their young son and two daughters in 2001. … [She] says her ex-husband thought if she were killed by a crazed gunman, he would regain custody of their children and collect compensation owed them as crime victims. “His end–game scenario was to come in as the grieving father,” she says.”
Similarly, Colin Ferguson’s life “was littered with dysfunction and disappointment. Son of a wealthy Jamaican family, he lost both his parents at age 20 and migrated to the U.S. where menial jobs and his marriage’s failure in 1988 sent him into a tailspin. After a work injury, he took time off to attend junior college, where his outbursts troubled peers….”
Likewise, it turns out that Dylann Roof might have gone over the edge when a black man won his girl—Scott Roof, Dylann’s cousin, told The Intercept that “He kind of went over the edge when a girl he liked starting dating a black guy two years back.”
This may or may not render my suggestion irrelevant—it may have been that, after Roof lost the girl he wanted, impotent and resentful rage would have found some form to explode in no matter what. But if it does render my suggestion irrelevant, then it renders all the leftist analysis irrelevant too, because it was this personal incident and not any true ideological cause which turned Roof into what he ultimately became.
On the other hand, the manner in which the George Zimmerman trial was distorted by the media to fit a predetermined racial lens was absolutely egregious. And it is striking that across 2008–2012, black criminals perpetrated 40% of crimes but were portrayed in the media as perpetrators only 20% of the time—that substantially more black–on–white than white–on–black crime was taking place across this period of time—including black–on–white rape—and none of these incidents got half as much coverage as the faulty narrative of the Zimmerman case did.
Yet, that faulty narrative did inspire many black–on–white revenge attacks, including a case of a man in Alabama put in critical care after being attacked with baseball bats by a group of assailants, one of whom was heard by a witness yelling: “Now that’s justice for Trayvon;” a case where a 50 year old white man who stopped at a store in Midtown, a 94% black neighborhood on the east side of Sanford, was dragged from his car and beaten with hammers while Al Sharpton spoke on the Trayvon Martin case nearby (the author of the original Orlando Sentinel articles admitted to censoring the race of the victim on purpose, yet direct ties were found between one perpetrator and the Yahweh Bin Yahweh black power cult); a case of a group of up to thirty “teenagers” who assaulted five people returning to their cars after a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert, in which one of the perpetrators was found bragging about the attack as revenge for Trayvon on Twitter; a case of a group in Gainesville, Florida who assaulted a man who stopped a purse thief while shouting “Trayvon”; a case of two teenagers in Chicago who were charged with hate crimes after directly telling police that their attack on a random white man was revenge for Trayvon … and several more.
How many white–on–black “revenge for O. J. Simpson” violent assaults do you think there were in 1995? I searched Google for “white on black assault revenge for O. J. Simpson” and got exactly four results—the top result was from “American Conservatives of Color” where the search picked up the phrase, “the real fact of the matter is that white-on-black assault/murder is NOT an epidemic in this nation.” Interesting.
In any case, even if this doesn’t hold true for Dylann Roof, it’s true in general: what slanted media coverage of this sort does, when it ignores facts like these, is play straight into the hands of the vile sort of racism that motivated Dylann Roof. What happens is this: if you don’t talk about these facts openly, someone will. And people who want to know about those facts will then listen to those people. If decent people don’t talk about it, then people who have an agenda to seize on will be the ones who get it. And then you give those sources a fact to lead out with that is verifiable for everyone to see. You increase their plausibility. You give people valid reasons to listen to them that they otherwise would not have had. And people learn that those sources are telling them the truth about facts that you won’t. And that arms them with extra opportunities to persuade people of their agenda.
And if your response to this is to condemn all talk about those facts because only people who have agendas talk about them, you only more deeply entrench that problem even further. So, when I say that Dylann Roof was right when he said that “The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case.… It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right. But more importantly this prompted me to type in the words “black on White crime” into Google …There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders. … How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on White murders got ignored?” I am no more making a defense of his actions than it is a defense of the 2001 World Trade Center attacks to observe that Osama Bin Laden was correct when he said that the United States supplies a substantial amount of economic and military aid to Israel. My point is to damn the media’s coverage of these events, because you played into Roof’s perceptions by being so illegitimate in your coverage of these incidents that you legitimized the racist sources that people like Roof turned to in consequence. And it should scare you that you handed the truth over to a mass murderer by dropping it out of your own hands by handling it so pathetically ineptly.
If there is an ideological lesson to draw from this attack, it is that. If the mass media handles race–related issues this pathetically, it will thereby legitimize alternative sources. And you might not like the agenda that those alternative sources latch on to the facts you ignore or distort to try to advance—but the fact that people pushing those agendas will now be leading with what is demonstrably the truth will legitimize them in the eyes of previously impartial listeners and discredit you.
And if you don’t want to create that dynamic, and you want people to respect you therefore listen to you instead and therefore give sources with those kinds of agendas fewer opportunities to push them, then you’ll have to do a hell of a better job than that at covering the basic facts. When the only lesson the media can draw from this—this, an incident whose original spark was created by the media’s own absolute ineptitude and failure in covering the George Zimmerman case, taking skewed information directly from the defense and its propaganda team without the slightest caution or qualification or mention to readers that these were the original source—is that white peoples’ everyday beliefs are what caused Dylann Roof’s actions, in articles with titles like “White America Is Complicit” or essays that tell white people to “take responsibility” for the fact that Dylann Roof is “white like [them]”, they only further alienate everyone who can plainly see that that is all bullshit. And in doing so, they continue increasing the likelihood that the growing numbers of ordinary everyday white people who at the very least hold no conscious hatred for anyone, and who are continually, increasingly alienated by all this, will be prone to listen to alternative sources who speak to what is, to everyone who doesn’t see the world through those particular blinders, the plain and obvious truth—and then, once they have hooked the listeners you’ve alienated and abandoned with the bits of truth you’ve thrown away and allowed them to scavenge—may go on to push and develop an agenda you probably won’t like very much at all.
Mainstream and left–leaning media, if you don’t want that to happen, you need to clean your act the hell up. Simply calling the sources that pick up on the facts you’ve failed to properly address “racist” just makes you look even more like this than you already did: