Wright from Washington City
April 21, 2012


Again the old question: Fools or charlatans?

Derbyshire, the Trayvon shooting,
and the Ministry of Error




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Even while George Zimmerman is prepared as a ritual sacrifice to the race mob, another poor sap has stuck his foot in it good and proper.

John Derbyshire's crime was to write a "white" version of "The Talk" that black parents are purported to give to their children. You know: Don't walk around with your hands in your pockets because people will think you have a gun. Don't drive an expensive car wearing scruffy clothes — the cops will think you stole it. Etc.

Derbyshire's version pointed out a few home truths for white people who associate with large black populations, especially the undeniable facts that a significant percentage of blacks are hostile to whites and that as a group blacks are much more violent. He drew some conclusions from those facts:

(10) Thus, while always attentive to the particular qualities of individuals, on the many occasions where you have nothing to guide you but knowledge of those mean differences, use statistical common sense:

(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.

(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.

(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).

(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.

(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.

(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.

(10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.

(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.

(10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.

Overall, it's depressing but prudent advice, although personally I have no qualms about pulling over to help respectable-looking black people in trouble on the side of the road, or about talking to them on the street. But oh! the uproar the article caused when some bien pensants caught wind of it. Derbyshire was fired from his job at National Review by cowardly neo-Trot editor Rich Lowry, and a storm of indignation poured down upon the writer's balding, middle-aged head.

Most of the invective was the usual stock pejoratives — "racist," "ugly," "sickening," etc. — that the Red Guards like to use when they don't want to address the truth or falsehood of a target's statements. Of course, in the mind of the lefty, the truth isn't only no defense; insisting on it is positively grounds for suspicion. But William Saletan of Slate, the online magazine [1], apparently felt that some clarification was in order: He took it upon himself to explain to the benighted masses the logical shortcomings in Derbyshire's rantings. It turned out to be tough going for him, though, because Saletan apparently isn't used to thinking rationally:

Derbyshire thinks his data warrant his conclusions. But all his data references include the crucial term "mean" or "average." They don't tell you about the person walking toward you. They tell you what you can assess about the probability of danger when the only information you have is color. Look at Derbyshire's point 10: "where you have nothing to guide you but knowledge of those mean differences ... Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally ... If accosted by a strange black in the street ..." The common premise in all this advice is ignorance. Not ignorance of data, but ignorance about the person you're facing.
Excuse me, but I thought that was Derbyshire's point. The assumption is that you don't know anything about this hypothetical person. Therefore, all you have to go on are general facts about the group to which the person belongs.
Derbyshire relies on the same assumption in point 12: "[I]n those encounters with strangers that involve cognitive engagement, ceteris paribus the black stranger will be less intelligent than the white." Ceteris paribus is Latin for "all other things being equal." It assumes there's no difference between a black person and a white person except that each has the average IQ test score for her race. In other words, the equation holds, as a matter of probability, only if you fail to notice anything about the person you've encountered aside from color.
Again, what's the actual problem?

What's striking in Derbyshire's advice is his constant emphasis on not learning anything. "Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally." "Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods." "Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks." Those are great ways to avoid getting to know black people.
Derbyshire's point, of course, is that they are also useful ways to avoid being assaulted, mugged, raped, murdered, etc. Staying away from large groups of black people you don't know can be a wise decision, as people here in Trantor have learned. Twelve years ago gunfire erupted at the National Zoo, in quiet upper-middle-class Woodley Park, during its annual African-American Family Celebration. Seven children between the ages of 11 and 16 were wounded, one seriously. Then just last summer, at the annual D.C. Caribbean Festival, there was 1) a shooting in which three people were wounded and one died, 2) a stabbing, and 3) a free-for-all brawl. Shootings and other violence are a fact of life in some black D.C. neighborhoods, but not, seemingly, in white areas. So it seems that Derbyshire may be on to something.

But to Saletan, like other Red Guard types, avoiding the threat of violence is a contemptible motive. [2] You should ignore the threat and try to understand the other person:

But if you're going to present evidence for aggregate differences, you have to tell the rest of the story. You have to acknowledge socioeconomic status, stereotype threat, and other factors that can affect performance. And you have to remind people that drawing inferences about anyone based on race, sex, religion, or any other crude category is a lousy substitute for inspecting or interacting with that individual. If you tell people to protect themselves by avoiding interaction with the person they're judging, you're not just rationalizing racism. You're perpetuating it.
Please, Mr. Mugger, don't hurt me. I acknowledge that socioeconomic status and various societal stereotypes can contribute to anti-social behavior. So I refuse to draw inferences about you based on your race, age, manner — which I might otherwise find menacing — and the fact that you're wearing a hoodie just like the London rioters and those guys who robbed the 7-Eleven the other day and shot Mr. Kim ... [3]

And anyway, white people are violent too. That's what Edward Wyckoff Williams argues in a piece that was headlined on Slate and published on The Root, a black racialist site. Wyckoff Williams argues that black-on-black crime isn't really a problem. After all, most murders among whites are by other whites. He writes:

Bill O'Reilly, the Fox News host and one-man propaganda machine, recently interviewed Columbia University professor Marc Lamont Hill to discuss similar claims from Wall Street Journal contributor Shelby Steele, who wrote in "The Exploitation of Trayvon Martin" that "black teenagers are afraid of other black teenagers, not whites." O'Reilly vehemently defended Steele's premise that the Trayvon Martin case is an anomaly.

"Blacks today are nine times more likely to be killed by other blacks than by whites," Steele wrote. He went on to attack the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson for "exploiting" Trayvon's death in an effort to promote a "liberal" agenda — a point that O'Reilly was all too happy to expound.

Steele's perspective, though myopic and misguided, remains pervasive and embedded in the broader social consciousness. This red-herring approach is not new, but in the face of Trayvon's death — for which there remains no arrest, no charges, and no arraignment — these obstructive tactics require an equal and opposite response.

What Will, Steele, and O'Reilly failed to mention is the exacting truth that white Americans are just as likely to be killed by other whites. According to Justice Department statistics, 84 percent of white people killed every year are killed by other whites.

In fact, all races share similar ratios. Yet there's no outrage or racialized debate about "white on white" violence. Instead, the myth and associated fear of "black on black" crime is sold as a legitimate, mainstream descriptive and becomes American status quo.

The truth? As the largest racial group, whites commit the majority of crimes in America. In particular, whites are responsible for the vast majority of violent crimes. With respect to aggravated assault, whites led blacks 2-1 in arrests; in forcible-rape cases, whites led all racial and ethnic groups by more than 2-1. And in larceny theft, whites led blacks, again, more than 2-1.

Given this mathematical truth, would anyone encourage African Americans to begin shooting suspicious white males in their neighborhoods for fear that they'll be raped, assaulted or murdered? Perhaps George Zimmerman's defenders should answer that question. If African Americans were to act as irrationally as Zimmerman did, would any rationale suffice to avoid arrest?

Here's another exacting, mathematical truth for you, Mr. Wyckoff Williams. According to the very same report to which you linked, the black homicide victimization rate is six times that of whites. That means that if you are black, you are six times more likely to be murdered than if you are white. And the chances are 92 percent that your killer will be black, too — not some racist "white Hispanic" such as the doomed George Zimmerman.

The report also pegs the "homicide offending" rate for blacks 18 to 24 at 175.8 per 100,000. The white rate for the same age group is only 20. That's less than one eighth. The rate for black kids ages 14 to 17 is 64.8 per 100,000, while for white kids it's less than 10.

So if I meet a young black, age 18 to 24, on the street, he is more than eight times more likely to murder me, ceteris paribus (sorry, Mr. Saletan), than a white male the same age, according to the report Wyckoff Williams quotes. Which is basically what Derbyshire said that was so offensive to such people as Saletan and the vicious Rich Lowry.

In other words, a Ministry of Love report that Wyckoff Williams says proves that whites are as prone to murder as blacks, actually proves that they are not. By a long shot.

How's that for a red herring?

Wyckoff Williams, again:

The term "black on black" crime is a destructive, racialized colloquialism that perpetuates an idea that blacks are somehow more prone to violence. This is untrue and fully verifiable by FBI, DOJ, and census data. Yet the fallacy is so fixed that even African Americans have come to believe it.
In fact, the census data Wyckoff Williams links to shows nothing of the sort. It gives raw numbers of arrests by race in 2009: Total violent-crimes arrests of whites, 268,346; of blacks, 177,766. Only a complete fool or a charlatan could come to such a conclusion using those figures. Another table, "Table 10. Resident Population by Race, Hispanic Origin, and Age: 2000 and 2009," offers information that puts the numbers in context. In 2009, whites are counted as numbering 244,298,000. The number of blacks was 39,641,000. That means that one white out of every 910 was arrested for a violent crime. And it means that one out of every 223 blacks was arrested. So blacks were arrested for violent crimes at a rate four times that of whites.

That makes me wonder. Did Wyckoff Williams think that he could get away with quoting and linking to government figures that really show the exact opposite of what he claims? Or is he incapable of using basic math and reason to arrive at logical conclusions? For that matter, is Saletan as obtuse as he seems, or is he knowingly using cheap sophistry in the knowledge that most of his half-educated yuppie audience is too brain-dead to notice? Are they stupid or scoundrels? And which would be worse?

Looking at Wyckoff Williams's bio on Wikipedia doesn't help. Apparently he went to Oxford, where he got a Master's of Philosophy degree in Comparative Social Policy (which sounds suspiciously like one of those new disciplines established to give angry, incompetent leftists homes in academe), interned for Vice Emperor Al Gore, and then went to work as, wait for it, an investment banker! before becoming a commentator for MSNBC. There he remains, despite shoveling out the most appalling, inflammatory, and easily disproved unsupported racist tripe:

At the heart of an increasingly violent society is not a subculture among blacks but the violence and criminality of many Americans, and whites in particular.
Meanwhile, Derbyshire has become a pariah for saying something that's easily shown to be true.

We really do live in Bizarro World.  Ω

April 21, 2012

Published in 2012 by WTM Enterprises.

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1. For those unfamiliar with Slate, it's a sort of auxiliary NPR, with the same tediously self-righteous left-liberal politics and smug middlebrow snobbishness.

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2. Among urban liberals such as Saletan, white people who live in the suburbs, and especially in gated communities, come in for special disdain, because they have chosen to wall themselves off from the great rainbow of diversity culture now festering in our city centers. I have to say, however, after living in a diverse neighborhood in Washington for more than a decade, it can be pretty fatiguing to always be on your guard against angry, violent young men. Moreover, there's dealing with the constant noise and litter, seeing broken car windows every morning on the street, having to make sure your home is secure against the ubiquitous, relentless burglars, and not being able to leave anything of value unattended for more than a minute for fear of its walking off. It can really wear you down. I note, however, that while many of these morally superior types live in the diverse areas of the city, their homes are often in buildings with good security, protected parking, and doormen.

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3. Since Trayvon Martin's untimely demise, the hoodie has become a symbol of defiance toward racism and intolerance. Congresshumanoid Bobby Rush, a former Black Panther, was kicked off the floor of the House of Representatives for wearing a hoodie in protest against unfair stereotyping. (Apparently casual dress is not considered appropriate among the exalted thieves, frauds, psychopaths, sex maniacs, and other criminals who make up that august institution.)

Members of the New York City Council also joined thoughtful people all across the country in wearing hoodies in sympathy with poor Trayvon. The effect was somewhat muted, however, because the council members, like Rush, neglected to complete the Urban Youth ensemble with gigantic chrome wristwatches, floppy unlaced sneakers, and baggy trousers with the waist hanging below the wearer's crotch.

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