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.
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.