Race, Violence, and the Police

Despite more than seven years of enlightened rule by a saintly mixed-race President, race relations in America seem worse than ever. Celebrities take to the national airwaves to blame “whiteness” for all the world’s ills, and in particular for all the frustrations, disappointments, and social afflictions of everyone who isn’t white. Moreover, if you were to gather your information only from mainstream media, movies and plays, academic curricula, best-selling books, and political speeches, you would have no doubt that violence and brutality are, in overwhelming proportions, committed by whites against blacks, and especially by white policemen. The reason for this is, in the words of Ta-Nehisi Coates, the greatest writer of the last several centuries, that the deepest yearning of whiteness — indeed, almost the only thing that gives white people’s lives any meaning or purpose at all — is to “shatter black bodies”. (If so, it’s hard to imagine how, for example, Sweden kept itself going all those years, but with the way things are going in Sweden now, I suppose that before long the question will be moot.)

The numbers, however, tell a different story. One researcher who has taken on the thankless task of digging into them is Heather Mac Donald. A recent item at The Daily Wire summarizes some of her findings: police killed nearly twice as many whites as blacks in 2015; the percentage of white and Hispanic deaths that are caused by police is three times higher than the rate for blacks; the fact that unarmed blacks are more likely to be killed by police is due to their penchant for assaulting officers, violently resisting arrest, and the unfortunate fact that in dense, crime-ridden neighborhoods, innocent bystanders are much more likely to be hit by stray police bullets; black and Hispanic officers are more likely to shoot at black people than white officers are, and are more than three times more likely to fire their guns at a crime scene; and a police officer is eighteen times more likely to be killed by a black person than an unarmed black person is to be killed by police.

You can read the whole thing here. Read also this speech, given by Ms. Mac Donald at Hillsdale college back in April, and her February Washington Post essay on unarmed police-shooting victims.

Meanwhile, eighty-two people were shot in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend. Fourteen died.

Churchill said: “You must look at the facts, because they look at you.” As a nation, we have embarked on a disastrous departure from reason and wisdom — or even numerical truth — regarding race and violence. When truth becomes taboo — such as the unwelcome truths that underlie the persistent difficulties and disparities haunting race relations in America — then wisdom dies, and our stress and strife are sure to worsen.

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  1. Malcolm,

    I don’t mean to make light of the seriousness of your post. I completely support the sentiments you express.

    But isn’t your title the name of the rap group that is currently topping the charts?

    Posted July 10, 2016 at 2:52 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Henry, I’m puzzled. Currently atop the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart is a singer called Drake.

    Are you thinking of Eighties rock trio The Police? Are you suggesting that this whole thing is some kind of Sting operation?

    Posted July 10, 2016 at 3:10 pm | Permalink
  3. Yeah, I guess I was swayed somewhat by “The Police”, but mostly just reaching for what turned out to be a lame joke.

    I’ll get my coat …

    P.S. I get your Sting pun. Don’t know about “Drake”, however.

    Posted July 10, 2016 at 4:17 pm | Permalink
  4. Whitewall says

    In the face of these stats that put the lie to BLM and their Democrat backed “dark money” as well as dutiful Dem pols who mouth the correct words when summoned…could this agitprop also be very much about maximum turnout in the black community for HRC? The terrorist attack in Dallas might have been the very thing BLM did not need.

    Posted July 10, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink
  5. If I had to choose between BLM and BLT, I would definitely go for the latter, despite it not being kosher. Even an Ashkenazi like me has some standards.

    Posted July 10, 2016 at 4:31 pm | Permalink
  6. Whitewall says

    “Drake” must be a singer? In my next life I will come back with only one name ‘Robert’…that makes you famous it seems… Elvis, Fabian. I’ll skip the bell bottoms and my wife assures me she’ll skip the crinolines.

    Posted July 10, 2016 at 4:41 pm | Permalink
  7. Robert, In my next life I’m coming back as the Drake minus the “D”.

    Posted July 10, 2016 at 6:07 pm | Permalink
  8. Robert,

    You might consider becoming even more famous by incorporating a “the” in your name, such as “Robert the Bruce”. That one, however, is already taken, so you could go with “Robert the Big” or, even better, “TheBigRobert”.

    Posted July 10, 2016 at 6:30 pm | Permalink
  9. Tina says

    I appreciate anyone willing to stand still and look at all the facts on things like this. Heather MacDonald is a courageous woman to be willing to point out that the headlines and sound bites and Twitter tags are wrong.

    There is a lot that she gets right – not least of which is digging into the assumptions and challenging that aggregate items are not what they seem. She shows a piece of the true situation as it stands today: Race does play a role in the problems between police and the communities they “serve” within the nation’s heavily segregated extra-southern cities & states, and she alludes to that, but it is not the whole story of this crisis in 2015.

    Seeing current reality with clear eyes is the Number One Essential for people who live there to be able to start figuring out how to raise their neighborhoods out of chaos, into good lives for their families.

    A couple of quibbles (coming from a place of agreement): In her speech, she credits a “policing revolution” of crime prevention that began in 1994 NYC “and spread nationally” with significantly reducing violent crime. I wish it were that simple, but it isn’t. The jury is still out on why violent crime just simply started dropping *everywhere* in the USA in the late 1980s and continues to fall even now, along with an almost mirror image of increasing citizen gun ownership nationwide. (I have not studied it, but serendipitously *cough* that was exactly when the Baby Boomers started ‘aging out’ of their fighting and lawbreaking years.)

    Significantly, law enforcement deaths in general, and specifically the number of police who were shot, fell right along with that unexplained drop in violent crime. The numbers are still at all time lows even today – both statistically and absolute. In fact, it is now safer to be a police officer than it is to be a truck driver or a carpenter’s helper or a dozen other jobs.

    But there is one “missing” database that needs to be examined: how many police shootings there are each year, so that we could learn whether the rate or number of citizens shot by police has also fallen. This we do not know, for the various governments have steadfastly refused to track police shootings, despite Congressional and Presidential orders to do so. So we know that “40 percent of all cop killers have been black over the last decade”, but have no idea how many people – of any color – were killed by police over the last 10 years, or any other period for that matter.

    Ms MacDonald notes that WaPo has assembled a dataset of media-reported shootings by police in 2015, which she uses to provide a really good look at where things now stand. We need to hear those stories, but as a statistic, it’s just valid for 2015 as a stand-alone. There is nothing to compare it to.

    The Guardian newspaper has also begun a database, so over time we will be able to see whether police are practicing continence in the use of deadly force.

    Nothing like this is simple, and she’s doing a good job of prying the lid off of the subject of race, culture, and violent crime. May her example encourage other researchers and journalists to look with open eyes and a bright light on the matter.

    Posted July 10, 2016 at 7:36 pm | Permalink
  10. Whitewall says

    Tina…nice presentation.
    “Nothing like this is simple, and she’s doing a good job of prying the lid off of the subject of race, culture, and violent crime. May her example encourage other researchers and journalists to look with open eyes and a bright light on the matter.” That is the danger zone in any conversation. I believe BLM is partly in business to prevent any such conversation. The matters are toxic. I know this “culture/violence problem pretty well as I have lived near black people most of my life here in NC. When I was a child, I knew black people whose grandparents were slaves. The changes in the black communities over the generations have been stark—some positive but too much negative.

    Posted July 10, 2016 at 8:34 pm | Permalink
  11. “— indeed, almost the only thing that gives white people’s lives any meaning or purpose at all — is to “shatter black bodies”.”

    Er … no. Speaking as a senior white person, who has largely avoided shattering anything in my life to date, except for the wine glass at my first wedding (to shouts of “Mazel Tov“), the assertion I have quoted is pure unadulterated horseshit, not to mention provocative racism of the most odious kind in today’s American society.

    Posted July 10, 2016 at 9:04 pm | Permalink
  12. Malcolm says

    Tina – welcome, and thank you for your thoughtful comment. (I don’t think you’ve commented here before, and I hope you will continue to do so.)

    You are right: nothing like this is simple. If that simple truth alone were better understood we’d already be in a far better place.

    The jury is still out on why violent crime just simply started dropping *everywhere* in the USA in the late 1980s and continues to fall even now, along with an almost mirror image of increasing citizen gun ownership nationwide.

    Of course, those two things could easily be connected — but as you say, it isn’t that simple.

    I have not studied it, but serendipitously *cough* that was exactly when the Baby Boomers started ‘aging out’ of their fighting and lawbreaking years.

    The drop in violent crime does want explaining, I agree. I wouldn’t find it hard to believe that Baby Boomers, dislocated as they were from nearly every traditional norm in the cataclysm of the 60’s, were a particularly lawless cohort — but violently so?

    The recent reversal of this pacifying trend, however, is easier to understand: the bonfire of traditional order, civic virtue, time preference, and social cohesion has had gasoline poured on it by those same Boomers, now in charge of public policy.

    Posted July 10, 2016 at 11:13 pm | Permalink
  13. “… the bonfire of traditional order, etc.”

    Also, “The Bonfire of the Vanities“.

    Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:10 am | Permalink
  14. JK says

    The jury is still out on why violent crime just simply started dropping *everywhere* in the USA in the late 1980s and continues to fall even now, along with an almost mirror image of increasing citizen gun ownership nationwide.



    (Limited data)




    & Yeah. Like that’s gonna happen.




    Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:51 am | Permalink
  15. Tina says

    Thank you Whitewall. I’m from Oklahoma, where desegregation happened before I was born. So you and I have some shared understanding of progess that had been made, which has been eroded in places during the past 20 years. It bewildered me how things could be so different in the Northern cities, until a few years ago when I learned the “non-Southern” states (the North, Mid-West, and West Coast) practiced appartheid up until the 1980s (and probably still do in sneakier ways).

    Hi Malcolm, Thank you for the welcome. The only reason to consider Baby Boomer aging as a possible contributor to dropping violent crime is the sheer number of young men and women of all classes – 72 million (37% of the total population in the late 1960s). Young people between the ages of 16 to 24 are the most likely to be drinking and fighting and beating up their spouses and robbing corner stores and committing rape. The “violent crime rate” climbed during the 60s (as the first boomers were entering their teens), then fell off. Here’s an interesting little tidbit:
    “As the baby boomers transitioned into the working ages, the youth
    dependency ratio declined. This decline continued through the late-
    1980s, at which point the birth of the echo boomers contributed to
    a small increase in youth dependency. A peak of 42.6 occurred in
    1995, which was much smaller than that observed during the height of
    the baby boom… ” https://www.census.gov/prod/2014pubs/p25-1141.pdf

    That “echo boom” could very contribute to the increases in violent crime by young Black males – as both victims and perpetrators – esp given the other contributing factors (fewer fathers in the home, more likely to live in large cities, etc).

    LOL I had looked at this before and now I am wondering if my throwaway comment might have something in it worth looking at.

    JK, looking at your links now… :-)

    Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:21 am | Permalink
  16. Malcolm says


    That the rate of violent crime would track the aging of a bulge in the population is reasonable.

    Some other factors to consider when looking at high violent crime rates in the latter decades of the last century are the social and political changes that affected, more than any other cohort, the urban (mostly black) poor. Many of the most obvious ones, having to do with the subsidizing and normalization of various forms of family dysfunction, are rightly laid at the feet of “progressive” social policies. I also believe that one cause of the intractable crime rates in the black inner cities is, as I argued in this post, due to the decline of racism in America, which made it possible for those inner-city blacks with cognitive and behavioral advantages to get out of urban slums and join the middle class — taking their good influence (and most importantly, their good genes) with them.

    As for the general decline in violent crime rates overall in recent decades, the rise in incarceration rates that began in the 1980s is likely a factor. Another plausible idea is that the drop in violent crime that began in the mid-90’s is at least in part due to the “Roe effect”: that beginning with Roe v. Wade in 1973, many who would have been violent criminals just coming of age in the 90’s simply were never born.

    Posted July 11, 2016 at 1:26 pm | Permalink
  17. Tina says

    JK, the “Fatal Encounters” link is especially interesting. I tried to use the CDC’s system, it returned weird numbers? Thanks for the various links – there are many factors that all “converged” in the 1970s, 80s, 90s. No one thing, but many influences combined – kind of like everything else in life. :-)

    Anyway, my takeaway from looking at lists and numbers, and my own changing assumptions over time, is that really, it comes down to culture and the commitment by people to transmit a culture (even as simple as teaching their own children to read and write) even against all odds.

    No matter what happened in past, there are many examples in history of people who took charge of their own culture in order to thrive in place despite heavy opposition and exclusion. The “Little School of the 400”, the US Amish – esp in the early 20th Century as “Big Government” began enchroaching on self-determination, etc

    Posted July 11, 2016 at 1:29 pm | Permalink
  18. JK says

    I tried to use the CDC’s system, it returned weird numbers?

    Yes. The problem (apparently/maybe) is with the CDCs alerting methodology – via coroners reports largely. In some cases county-level health departments. Expertise (my own county’s coroner is an elected position with the qualifying criteria being … I dunno exactly what the previous idiot did before but the current ones grandfather had been the county’s sheriff). Funding …

    Then of course there’s the sorts of Systems Experts the Feds are notorious for shoveling money to for stuff like for instance, Healthcare dot gov.

    But I do like feeling I’ve been somewhat of assistance.

    Posted July 11, 2016 at 4:18 pm | Permalink
  19. Tina says

    Hi Malcolm,
    Our last posts crossed. The trauma of those awful events is hard to imagine.

    Mr Sowell’s description of neighborhoods sounds like what I remember in the somewhat more integrated neighborhoods of my youth – the admixture of classes, education level, everyone lived together in small houses or large, with duplexes and small apartment houses tucked in here and there, anchored by palatial homes on big corner lots. “Gated communities” did not exist.

    Even the cultural effects of normative role models moving away would devastate a community that was as geographically isolated as it seems the northern ghettos were/are.

    You’re probably right about the incarceration rate. The growth of the prison industry has its own deleterious effects to answer for. What would the violent crime rate be if every inmate assault were included in the data?

    JK, here in Texas the smaller towns use our Justices of the Peace to pronounce cause of death – same qualifications that your coroner has to meet, except elected by the people.

    And I’m discovering that in the internet age, when small town newspapers exist mainly to sell ads, lots and lots and lots of news items never make the papers – and never make the internet either. So a whole bunch of history and the associated numbers to whom it happens, is going unrecorded, and the absence is unnoticed.

    Computers have lulled us into forgetting that someone still has to enter the info, else GIGO.

    Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:10 pm | Permalink
  20. Hi Tina,

    “Computers have lulled us into forgetting that someone still has to enter the info, else GIGO.”

    I like how you express yourself. But I am puzzled by your use of the word “else” in the sentence I quoted. “Garbage in, garbage out” seems to me a non-sequitur.

    Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:46 pm | Permalink
  21. JK says

    We’re neighbors then Tina. I’m to your west (and probably) somewhat north.

    I set a niece and nephew off this morning back to Austin, told ’em “a hunnert miles out of Dallas fill the tank, fill it again a hunnert t’other side. Stay on the Interstate.”

    Welcome to Malcolm’s place. Stick around. Read a random post ‘er two.

    Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:08 pm | Permalink
  22. JK says

    East. Make that east.

    Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:11 pm | Permalink
  23. Ta-Nehisi Coates, the greatest writer of the last several centuries


    Posted July 12, 2016 at 10:15 am | Permalink
  24. Tina says

    TheBigHenry, Hi! :-) Maybe I could have been more clear, sometimes I get muddled LOL I was equating incomplete data to useless data, esp when it comes to generating statistics of the kind we were talking about. ie some events omitted because they were never entered downstream, but the eventual compiler may not know that.
    Does that make sense?

    Posted July 12, 2016 at 11:11 am | Permalink
  25. Tina says

    JK, I hope your family has a pleasant trip home. That whole Eastern route is a beautiful drive, esp this year since we’ve all had rain.

    It’s been a nice welcome – I’ve been a reader for a long time, dunno why I haven’t commented before.

    Posted July 12, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink
  26. That makes sense, Tina.

    Posted July 12, 2016 at 11:58 am | Permalink
  27. Jacques says

    Segregation was a reasonable way for whites to protect themselves and impose civilized standards on a population very badly suited to euro norms. In principle there was nothing wrong with it, though in practice it was often very imperfect. It worked so well that whites could be convinced that blacks, even without severe paternalistic controls, would act pretty much like whites. And so civilization made possible an outbreak of massive savagery and dysfunction. Ironically people now think it was segregation and white “racism” that caused black savagery; true, but not in the way they think.

    Posted July 12, 2016 at 12:18 pm | Permalink
  28. JK says

    Tina. There’s a discussion taking place “over there” where its easier so to speak;


    Posted July 12, 2016 at 4:55 pm | Permalink
  29. Whitewall says

    Jacques, “Ironically people now think it was segregation and white “racism” that caused black savagery; true, but not in the way they think.” I’m curious how you mean this.

    Posted July 12, 2016 at 6:33 pm | Permalink
  30. Jacques says

    Hi Whitewall — just that segregation and white “racism” caused blacks to act more civilized than otherwise possible, causing white leftists and other subversives to think that blacks were not really so different from whites, eventually causing everyone to accept this false belief, causing endless efforts towards desegregation and “integration”, the result of which is unconstrained black savagery and dysfunction. So in that way segregation and “racism” did lead to black savagery…

    Posted July 12, 2016 at 11:33 pm | Permalink
  31. Whitewall says

    thank you for that! I have admired your reasoning and logic skills for some time. I am from and currently live in North Carolina. As I read your remarks, I had many vivid flash backs to the 1950s and 1960s. The rate of black community breakdown was stark with the onset of the efforts you described above. The reaction among middle class white people, as everyone well knows, was one of resentment, anger and some fear. Response became loud and fierce. I won’t go into any depth as I don’t know how many here are from my part of the country, but the message to those from the outside back then was often along the lines of “you don’t know what you are doing because you don’t know anything about the people you are “helping”. But history rolled out as it did and we are still helping a large mass of black people. We have “helped” them so well that they now are becoming largely dysfunctional- now perceived as normal, as well as making more successful black people into a social oddity that these same blacks are uncomfortably aware of.

    With some white people, they can’t “help” blacks enough, and with some blacks they are ready for white people to stop “helping” them so much. I don’t know where it ends.

    Posted July 13, 2016 at 7:42 am | Permalink