This is in response to Van Jones’ CNN opinion piece entitled “Blaming black protesters for ‘crime wave’.
On matters of statistics, and in lambasting the media for it’s unsupported claims of a ‘crime wave’, Mr. Jones hits the nail on the head. What he fails to realize is that the media is largely to blame for both the “gin[ing] up [of] fears of a new nationwide crime epidemic”, and ginning up fears of an epidemic of police brutality. There is no sound evidence to suggest that either claim is true, yet Mr. Jones pigeonholes “defenders of police brutality” with those who believe the police are justified in most of the high profile cases, and lumps both in with the media gleefully playing both sides of the field.
If the problem is powerlessness, victimization, frustration, and death, then your fight isn’t with the police, it’s with your own communities. 9 out of 10 black victims of murder were killed by other blacks, blacks account for about half the murder victims, and 3 out of 4 of those were murdered by guns. While other races’ fear of blacks is irrational and unsupported by the evidence, likewise is blacks’ fear of police. If you are black, and live in a poor urban area, you should be far less concerned about the cop with a gun than your neighbor with a gun.
Where certain elements of this discussion jump the shark is in making this about race. When you compare apples to apples at the same economic levels, there is a very similar rate of victimization. This has held true no matter who occupied the underbelly of the urban ecology, from African Americans back to the Irish immigrants a full century or more ago. There is a variance of factors at all levels that serve to make poor neighborhoods into hotbeds of criminal activity, and those are worth discussing, but the criminals who are allegedly being mistreated aren’t the victims of this situation. The victims are the law abiding citizens in those same communities who are victimized by the criminals prior to them engaging with law enforcement.
Yet the wake of these high profile cases, and the controversy surrounding stop and frisk, all of these factors are ignored. The fact that poor neighborhoods are overwhelmingly minority, and overwhelmingly produce the most crime, crime with affects most the members of those communities, doesn’t make it into the graphs. We get total whites, total blacks, and compare those numbers with police interaction and incarceration. No mention of victimization by criminals, of course, only the much less significant number of people allegedly victimized by the justice system. No correcting for economic factors, which have been shown time and again to hugely influence crime. No correcting for urban vs rural. Indeed, little or no attempt to honestly engage with the data, as this would lead inexorably away from the racial narrative of black vs white.
The root of the issues here is poverty and it’s effects on young people’s inclinations towards lawlessness. In a world where you have few legal options, it’s little wonder the underprivileged in society turn to criminal behavior in large numbers. The police have nothing to do with anyone’s financial status, coming as they are on the back end to enforce the laws which the hopeless and disenfranchised are breaking. There is no doubt a problem, but it is a familiar problem, and it’s been nagging societies since well before Jim Crow or Uncle Tom. Unless we address it as the chronic illness that it is, instead of some recent American phenomenon perpetrated by white people, we’ll never heal.
More importantly, there doesn’t seem to be any consensus on whether this flag business is about slavery, or racism. If the former, why is this considered a modern problem? If the latter, why did it require another century for the victorious north to award equal rights to blacks?
So we should likewise scrub from the American landscape any monuments to the Confederate dead? After all, these are merely monuments to men who fought and died for the institution of slavery, no better and arguably worse than those who raised the flag in the first place. Also, why focus on slavery? America has been a naughty boy on the world stage, shouldn’t we be purging Arlington of any soldier who died for causes we now consider distasteful? It would be a shame to continue producing citizens who regard such men with respect and honor, better to have citizens who view history through the arrogant lens of morally indignant hindsight. Finally, someone get Italy on the phone, the Colliseum has GOT to go, ASAP! Talk about a momument to slavery…