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The Facts Don't Care About Your Feelings

by Dr David, Editor / Publisher

I received an email bulletin from an acquaintance the other day that in its discussion of the George Floyd tragedy asserted, "Slaves built the United States and the country's treatment of African-Americans has not evolved since."

This attitude that nothing has gotten or is getting better, that everything is getting worse, and that, in fact, we are facing existential crises everywhere we look is rampant today in left-wing circles. We see it reflected in our panicked reaction to the most recent pandemic.

In the crisis following George Floyd's death we see an example of this hysteria in the frequently repeated assertion that there is a genocide being perpetrated against blacks, that the killing of unarmed black people is the norm.

I wrote back to my progress-denying acquaintance offering several studies that show that police killings of black people have significantly dropped since 2015:

"In 2016 [Dr. Roland] Fryer [leftist economics professor, a MacArthur Fellow and the youngest African-American to ever receive tenure at Harvard] released a study of racial differences in police use of deadly force. To the surprise of the author, as well as many in the media and on the left who take racist law enforcement as a given, he found no evidence of bias in police shootings. His conclusions have been echoed by researchers at the University of Maryland and Michigan State University, who in a paper released last year wrote: 'We didn't find evidence for anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparity in police use of force across all shootings, and, if anything, found anti-White disparities when controlling for race-specific crime.'"
"Good Policing Saves Black Lives" - The Wall Street Journal

You read that right; police are less likely to kill blacks than they are to kill whites. Referring to Fryer's study, The New York Times reports:

"blacks were either less likely to be shot or there was no difference between blacks and whites."
"...officers in Houston were about 20 percent less likely to shoot if the suspects were black."

"Fatal police shootings of unarmed people have significantly declined"
"Fatal shootings of unarmed black men... are among the kinds of killings that have fallen..."
"...the data indicate that evidence of racial bias by police who shoot and kill unarmed blacks has also declined..."

My acquaintance wrote back discounting statistics and data. This is another common attitude among the woke left. Feelings are paramount. If I feel offended by what you said, then what you said necessarily is offensive. If I feel unsafe, then you are threatening.

Data and statistics have no special place in Post-modernism, the philosophy that holds sway in academia. Post-modernism asserts that there are no facts, there is no truth. There are just competing interpretations. Theirs is a complete relativism. University students are taught that what we take to be the "truth" is only an interpretation of reality forced upon us by the white power structure, Western culture. That science confirms certain interpretations of reality over others means nothing since science itself is a tool (interpretation) of the white power structure. So my progress-denying, acquaintance could deny the data and statistics I presented him because they were only data and statistics.

Going back to the claim that the killing of unarmed black people is the norm; considering unarmed black people, the statistics are more impressive, at least to those of us who believe in mathematics:

Police killed only 40 unarmed people in 2019 (The Washington Post). Twenty of those were white. Ten were black. Circumstances in all but two of those ten were moderately to extremely dangerous for the policeman involved. In those two the policemen were charged.

A New York Times article, referring in more depth to Dr. Fryer's study (above), confirms this decline of lethal force and points to a more pressing concern, right there in its title: "Surprising New Evidence Shows Bias in Police Use of Force but Not in Shootings." While police are less likely to use lethal force against blacks than they are to use lethal force against whites, they are more likely to use of force against blacks than they are to use force against whites.

New York Times article has Dr. Fryer speculating that this discrepancy between the use of force and the use of lethal force is due to the costs:

"No officer has ever told me that putting their hands on inner-city youth is a life-changing event."
"Who the hell wants to have a police officer put their hand on them or yell and scream at them? It's an awful experience," he said. "Every black man I know has had this experience. Every one of them. It is hard to believe that the world is your oyster if the police can rough you up without punishment. And when I talked to minority youth, almost every single one of them mentions lower-level uses of force as the reason why they believe the world is corrupt."

Instead of chanting "Stop killing me," protesters should be chanting "Stop pushing me around." That's not as catchy of a sound-bite, but it happens to be true. As police are now afraid to use lethal force, so to they should be more cautious in using excessive force. The doctrine of "qualified immunity," upheld by the Supreme Court, protects police from being sued for their use of illegitimate force. Senate Democrats just introduced a resolution pushing for the end of qualified immunity.

Perhaps the police are racists when it comes to the use of force. Perhaps white men accosted by police are better at interacting with the police while they are being accosted. Perhaps black men are not as compliant while being accosted by police because they are more frequently accosted and are tired of it happening. Perhaps police more frequently accost black men, especially young black men, because young black men are committing a greatly disproportionate amount of the crime. Perhaps that increased criminality is itself due to societal racism. Perhaps it is due to the lack of fathers in the black home. More nuance is needed.

A lot more nuance actually, because, as the Wall Street Journal editorial ("Good Policing Saves Black Lives" - The Wall Street Journal) concludes, heavy-handed, highly-publicized investigations of police shootings of black men, that target entire departments rather than individual officers, result in police pulling back from community involvement:

"In Chicago, there was a 90% drop in police-civilian contacts immediately after the announcement of an investigation, and 'Baltimore literally went to zero' after a probe was announced there, he said. In cities where these contacts fell the most, homicides increased the most. Sadly, the decision to launch department-wide state and federal inquiries into the deaths of Brown, McDonald and Gray resulted in numerous additional deaths. Mr. Fryer said that because of changes in police behavior following investigations in these and other cities, 'my estimates show that we lost a thousand more lives, most of them black as well, because of an increase in homicides.' The protesters and their political allies insist that policing is the problem, but when police pull back, black communities are hit hardest."

"I never would have guessed that if police stopped putting in the effort, that homicides would change like this," said Mr. Fryer. "You hear some people say ‘Oh, we want to police our own neighborhoods, get out.' No, you don't want that. I guess I always knew it was a foolish idea, but I didn't realize it was this deadly."

With this in mind Black Lives Matter's call for abolishing, defunding the police is shown to be misguided, if that wasn't already obvious.

I might be wrong, but I don't believe that that cop was trying to kill George Floyd. He should have known that he might kill him, but, as horrible as his actions were, I don't think he was trying to kill him.

That's an important distinction for at least two reasons: one, overcharging makes it harder to convict. Minnesota's over-zealous Attorney General, bowing to mob pressure upped the charges against him from Murder 3 to Murder 2. Murder in the third degree, doing something that you knew or should have known could cause death, was a guaranteed conviction. But murder in the second degree requires intent to kill. A jury might watch that video and decide that, as horrible as it was, it doesn't look like the cop was trying to kill him.

The second reason is because exaggeration is counter-productive. We shouldn't go around crying that America hasn't evolved since slavery, just because that feels right to us. We shouldn't denounce a genocide against black people in America, because a) those untruths push away people who might join our cause, and b) these false claims distract us from the real racism that exists in America.

Take for example the teachers' unions, those corrupt, solidly Democratic institutions that continue to condemn generations of black children to ignorance and poverty, before whom Obama bowed when he opposed charter schools.

Or, what of the criminal justice system? Sentencing has clearly been racist, with blacks receiving more severe sentences than whites for the same crimes. Although it doesn't fit with the mainstream media's agenda, it is Trump more than any president before him, who has advanced sentencing reform:

"3,100 inmates to be released as Trump administration implements criminal justice reform"
- The Washington Post

"The Improbable Success of a Criminal-Justice-Reform Bill Under Trump"
- The New Yorker

"The world is much better; The world is awful; The world can be much better." - Max Roser

Progressives think that progress is the natural course of things. The woke left is sure that it is only a bunch of old white men who are impeding the dawning of a socialist utopia. But it ought to be clear, especially now given the lawlessness of Antifa and the negligence of various mayors, who held back their police and so turned over their cities to rioters (Minneapolis, Raleigh, New York, Los Angeles…), that things can get much worse.

My take-away is that reform works. Things are getting better ("The Best and Worst of Times"). The answer to our problems is to reform the system, not overthrow it.

**************

Dr David's roots go deep into the black community, as a future article will make perfectly clear. So just chill out, honkeys. And don't be schooling him about revolution, neither, you who've never stepped out of line in your whole life. He has a few things to show you.

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