Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Walter Williams is still pissed at Trayvon Martin for being inconsiderate enough to get shot to death.

Walter begins this article with some statistics about the number of black people suffering violent crimes in America. Surprising no one, it turns out that they're more likely to be victimized than any other race of people - and their victimizers are more likely to be of the same race than another. Of course, people are always more likely to be victimized by people of their own race, since that's who people generally tend to associate with. If you live in a community that's 90 percent white, there's a 90 percent chance that any criminal you meet is going to be white. The same is true in black communities. Yes, the crime numbers are shockingly high in black communities, but so are the poverty numbers - which tend to have a direct causal link to the crime numbers, and which Walter steadfastly refuses to mention. I wonder why?

Things don't get really dumb, though, until the second paragraph. In it he starts with the number that about 7000 black people are murdered every year, then compares that to the number of black people killed in wars since Korea (18,515) and claims to be shocked by the disparity in numbers. Of course, far more white people have been murdered in America than killed in foreign wars since Korea as well, but admitting that would reveal Walter's point to be a trick of math created by the fact that there haven't actually been that many America war casualties since Korea. When you do a large amount of your war-fighting by dropping bombs on countries that don't have planes, the casualty counts tend to get pretty lopsided. Still, Walter wants to draw a conclusion from the numbers-

"It's a tragic commentary to be able to say that young black males have a greater chance of reaching maturity on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan than on the streets of Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, Newark and other cities."

Or, it would be a tragic commentary, were it true. Like most things Walter says, however, it isn't. Yes, the raw numbers bear out the concept - 7000 blacks dead in America/year against 120 blacks dead in Afghanistan or Iraq/year, but raw numbers hide the fact that there are considerably more black Americans in America than there are in Afghanistan or Iraq. In any given year there are roughly 40 million black people living in America. According to Walter's numbers, that means each one of those people has a roughly 0.017% chance of being murdered. By comparison, any random black person in the military has roughly 0.025% chance of being killed in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Is it shocking that you're only a little better off being a regular American black person than one in the military? Absolutely - shocking enough that you'd think Walter could avoid lying in order to make his argument.

Then, naturally, Walter wastes a decent point by lying some more, while unfairly inferring intention:

"A much larger issue is how might we interpret the deafening silence about the day-to-day murder in black communities compared with the national uproar over the killing of Trayvon Martin. Such a response by politicians, civil rights organizations and the mainstream news media could easily be interpreted as "blacks killing other blacks is of little concern, but it's unacceptable for a white to kill a black person."

Walter claims a 'deafening silence' about Black on Black crime. But simply look at any Black advocacy group, and you'll find that they talk about the problem of Black on Black crime literally all the time. There are marches, speeches, fundraisers, and a number of major groups taking positive action on the subject. Yet Walter wants to believe that because people are upset about the Martin shooting that this means there's no concern for Black on Black violence, but he offers no evidence to back his theory up. All Walter has is the anecdotal observation that Black people seem pretty angry about the Martin shooting - and when Walter sees angry Black people, he knows that it can only ever be a racial thing.

Somehow it has yet to occur to Walter that the Martin shooting was a cause celebre not simply because of the races of the people involved, but because an armed man hunted down and shot an unarmed teen and was then neither arrested nor charged by the police. Injustice sells papers, which you'd think Walter - a newspaper columnist - would know. Although how could he have missed this one? This article of Walter's was published at the end of May - did he not notice that coverage of the Martin case fell off a cliff after Zimmerman was charged in April? Once the perceived injustice (man being released without charges after questionable shooting) had taken steps towards being resolved, the media moved on.

It seems that in Walter's desperation to find a racial issue to get angry about, he's hooked his wagon to something a little more complex than he'd imagined. It seems that the Martin coverage had less to do with people pushing the myth of a rash of white on black crime, and more with people wanting to see justice done. So Walter got this one wrong. Not exactly a shock, but let's move on-

To Walter's revelation of the real problem: Black on white crime!

"Not only is there silence about black-on-black crime; there's silence and concealment about black racist attacks on whites -- for example, the recent attacks on two Virginian-Pilot newspaper reporters set upon and beaten by a mob of young blacks. The story wasn't even covered by their own newspaper. In March, a black mob assaulted, knocked unconscious, disrobed and robbed a white tourist in downtown Baltimore. Black mobs have roamed the streets of Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Cleveland, Washington, Los Angeles and other cities, making unprovoked attacks on whites and running off with their belongings."

Here Walter makes his case that the media doesn't care about blacks doing bad things to white people. Except for the fact that by virtue of the fact that Walter is here talking about them, they must have been covered in the media. The Virginian-Pilot story has been extensively covered - even turning up on O'Reilly's show - and the fact that it's an assault where no one was seriously injured suggests that it probably doesn't have legs as a national news story. The Baltimore tourist attack was extensively covered for weeks - I live in Canada, and I heard about it. As for Walter's generalization about groups of muggers mugging people, I can't believe that I have to explain to a grown man that people looking to rob other people tend to try and rob those who have more money than they do. Or is Walter so afraid of entering the economic arena that he won't even admit that black criminals tend to be far worse off financially than their white victims?

Then Walt caps the whole thing off with a favorite talking point of Thomas Sowell's - the 'epidemic' of Black on Asian violence, and the media's complete failure in covering it. Again - I'm not sure that Walter hangs out with a lot of Asian teens, and if the media's not covering it, how is he hearing about all these kids being called 'Dragon ball'?

"But that kind of bullying, unlike the bullying of homosexuals, goes unreported and unpunished."

God, Walt, how many times do I have to remind you of this? You're AGAINST anti-bullying measures. You can't say that bullying against gays shouldn't be thought of as a problem and then turn around and complain that bullying against Asians isn't thought of as a bigger problem. Is even a basic amount of consistency impossible for you to deliver?

The truly stunning part of all this is how incredibly disingenuous this entire article is. Walter claims to be pointing out the media's hypocrisy about not covering black on black violence, but the irony is that no one is more against addressing Black on Black violence than Walter himself. He likes to use the fact that blacks are shooting each other as a cudgel to defeat charges of anti-black racism, as if he can simply say 'hey, when you stop killing each other, then you can complain about institutional racism, but unless you stop acting like animals, you won't get treated like people' and that will be the end of it. The possible linkages between institutional racism and black on black violence either completely escape Walter, or are being purposefully overlooked by him so that he can paint an entire race of people as alien and constitutionally unsuited for self-determination.

Whenever people take actually steps to address black on black crime - decriminalization that would take money and violence out of the equation and turn drugs into a public health issue, real gun control laws that would actually address the obscenely large number of handguns that are easily available in America - Walter and people like him get up in arms and rally against progressive steps. The Supreme Court forced Washington DC to allow hanguns on its streets - why didn't Walter write an indignant article about that? Why, it's almost as if he'd like the epidemic of black on black crime to keep right on chugging along. After all, if black people weren't killing each other, and instead worked together to secure their rights and a better future for their children, how would people like Walter marginalize and dismiss them?

The article ends with a baffling/horrifying quote that Walter finds apropos:

"Racial demagoguery from the president on down is not in our nation's best interests, plus it's dangerous. As my colleague Thomas Sowell recently put it, "if there is anything worse than a one-sided race war, it is a two-sided race war, especially when one of the races outnumbers the other several times over.""

Am I reading this wrong, or is Walter saying that if Black people don't stop complaining about racism, the Whites of America will show them what real racism looks like? Because that's what it seems like Sowell is threatening.

Why would Walter ever republish this quote? Is he trying to send out a secret message so that we'll rescue him from the right-wing white people holding him hostage? This almost reads like a cry for help or a pleading mea culpa for his sins. After all, how could Walter be blamed for all of his racist nonsense when all he's trying to do is make sure that Black people stay in their place so that White people don't start taking steps to solve the 'Negro Problem'. He's just trying to help you, Black people, why can't you see that?!

But no. It's the other people who are stoking racial resentment and threatening racial violence. Not Walter and his crowd. Never.

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