Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. More
Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.
Dave Weigel is one of my favorite reporters, but I think this piece on Jason Richwine, intelligence research, and "race" deserves a closer look:
Academics aren't so concerned with the politics. But they know all too well the risks that come with research connecting IQ and race. At the start of his dissertation, Richwine thanked his three advisers -- George Borjas, Christopher Jenks, and Richard Zeckhauser -- for being so helpful and so bold. Borjas "helped me navigate the minefield of early graduate school," he wrote. "Richard Zeckhauser, never someone to shy away from controversial ideas, immediately embraced my work. ..."
Anyone who works in Washington and wants to explore the dark arts of race and IQ research is in the right place. The city's a bit like a college campus, where investigating "taboo" topics is rewarded, especially on the right. A liberal squeals "racism," and they hear the political-correctness cops (most often, the Southern Poverty Law Center) reporting a thought crime.
It is almost as though the "dark arts of race and IQ" were an untapped field of potential knowledge, not one of the most discredited fields of study in modern history. We should first be clear that there is nothing mysterious or forbidden about purporting to study race and intelligence. Indeed, despite an inability to define "race" or "intelligence," such studies are one of the dominant intellectual strains in Western history. We forget this because its convient to believe that history begins with the Watts riots. But it's important to remember the particular tradition that Charles Murray and Jason Richwine are working in. A brief reminder seems in order.
Here is antebellum "race realist" Josiah Clark Nott writing in 1854 to justify slavery:
That Negroes imported into, or born in, the United States become more intelligent and better developed in their physique generally than their native compatriots of Africa, every one admits; but such intelligence is easily explained by their ceaseless contact with the whites, from whom they derive much instruction; and such physical improvement may also be readily accounted for by the increased comforts with which they are supplied. In Africa, owing to their natural improvidence, the Negroes are, more frequently than not, a half-starved, and therefore half-developed race; but when they are regularly and adequately fed, they become healthier, better developed, and more humanized. Wild horses, cattle, asses, and other brutes, are greatly improved in like manner by domestication : but neither climate nor food can transmute an ass into a horse, or a buffalo into an ox.
Here is an excerpt from Madison Grant's 1916 study The Passing of a Great Race:
These new immigrants were no longer exclusively members of the Nordic race as were the earlier ones who came of their own impulse to improve their social conditions. The transportation lines advertised America as a land flowing with milk and honey and the European governments took the opportunity to unload upon careless, wealthy and hospitable America the sweepings of their jails and asylums. The result was that the new immigration, while it still included many strong elements from the north of Europe, contained a large and increasing number of the weak, the broken and the mentally crippled of all races drawn from the lowest stratum of the Mediterranean basin and the Balkans, together with hordes of the wretched, submerged populations of the Polish Ghettos.
Our jails, insane asylums and almshouses are filled with this human flotsam and the whole tone of American life, social, moral and political has been lowered and vulgarized by them. With a pathetic and fatuous belief in the efficacy of American institutions and environment to reverse or obliterate immemorial hereditary tendencies, these newcomers were welcomed and given a share in our land and prosperity....
The result of unlimited immigration is showing plainly in the rapid decline in the birth rate of native Americans because the poorer classes of Colonial stock, where they still exist, will not bring children into the world to compete in the labor market with the Slovak, the Italian, the Syrian and the Jew. The native American is too proud to mix socially with them and is gradually withdrawing from the scene, abandoning to these aliens the land which he conquered and developed.
The man of the old stock is being crowded out of many country districts by these foreigners just as he is to-day being literally driven off the streets of New York City by the swarms of Polish Jews. These immigrants adopt the language of the native American, they wear his clothes, they steal his name and they are beginning to take his women, but they seldom adopt his religion or understand his ideals and while he is being elbowed out of his own home the American looks calmly abroad and urges on others the suicidal ethics which are exterminating his own race.
Another from Lothrop Stoddard's 1922 work The Revolt Against Civilization and the Menace of the Underman:
In Massachusetts the birth-rate of foreign-born women is two and one-half times as high as the birth-rate among the native-bom; in New Hampshire two times; in Rhode Island one and one-half times, the most prolific of the alien stocks being Poles, Polish and Russian Jews, South Italians, and French-Canadians. What this may mean after a few generations is indicated by a calculation made by the biologist Davenport, who stated that, at present rates of reproduction, 1,000 Harvard graduates of to-day would have only fifty descendants two centuries hence, whereas 1,000 Rumanians today in Boston, at their present rate of breeding, would have 100,000 descendants in the same space of time.
To return to the more general aspect of the problem, it is clear that both in Europe and America the quality of the population is deteriorating, the more intelligent and talented strains being relatively or absolutely on the decline. Now this can mean nothing lees than a deadly menace both to civilization and the race.
More from Lothrop Stoddard's 1921 book The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy:
In the United States it has been the same story. Our country, originally settled almost exclusively by Nordics, was toward the close of the nineteenth century invaded by hordes of immigrant Alpines and Mediterraneans, not to mention Asiatic elements like Levantines and Jews. As a result, the Nordic native American has been crowded out with amazing rapidity by these swarming, prolific aliens, and after two short generations he has in many of our urban areas become almost extinct.
The racial displacements induced by a changed economic or social environment are, indeed, almost incalculable. Contrary to the popular belief, nothing is more unstable than the ethnic make-up of a people. Above all, there is no more absurd fallacy than the shibboleth of the "melting-pot." As a matter of fact, the melting-pot may mix but does not melt. Each race-type, formed ages ago, and "set" by millenniums of isolation and inbreeding, is a stubbornly persistent entity. Each type possesses a special set of characters: not merely the physical characters visible to the naked eye, but moral, intellectual, and spiritual characters as well. All these characters are transmitted substantially unchanged from generation to generation.
To be sure, where members of the same race-stock intermarry (as English and Swedish Nordics, or French and British Mediterraneans), there seems to be genuine amalgamation. In most other cases, however, the result is not a blend but a mechanical mixture. Where the parent stocks are very diverse, as in matings between whites, negroes, and Amerindians, the offspring is a mongrel -- a walking chaos, so consumed by his jarring heredities that he is quite worthless. We have already viewed the mongrel and his works in Latin America.
Here is Karl Pearson in 1925 looking at Jewish immigration into Britain:
What is definitely clear, however, is that our alien Jewish boys do not form from the standpoint of intelligence a group markedly superior to the natives. But that is the sole condition under which we are prepared to admit that immigration should be allowed. Taken on the average, and regarding both sexes, this alien Jewish population is somewhat inferior physically and mentally to the native population. It is not so markedly inferior as some of those who wish to stop all immigration are inclined to assert. But we have to face the facts; we know and admit that some of the children of these alien Jews from the academic standpoint have done brilliantly, whether they have the staying powers of the native race is another question*. No breeder of cattle, however, would purchase an entire herd because he anticipated finding one or two fine specimens included in it; still less would he do it, if his byres and pastures were already full.
Far from being relegated to some musty corner of intellectual life, the Stoddard tradition, the tradition in which Jason Richwine stands, proved to be an influential force in world history. The Stoddard tradition gave us forced sterilization, "euthanasia" programs, miscegenation bans, and, ultimately, the Holocaust.
One might oppose the Stoddard tradition strictly on its tendency to birth suffering, misery, and catastrophe. But one can oppose it for simpler reasons -- its practitioners have a nasty habit of being wrong. Harvard still stands. The Jews of Poland seem to understand American ideas quite well. And it was not the darker races who threatened civilization, but the cannibal Nordics rampaging under the Nazi flag. History has been deeply unkind to Jason Richwine's spiritual ancestors. It's comforting to think that the academics who show no interest in the "dark arts" do so out of fear of the leftist cabal. More likely, they do so to avoid being associated with a specious field of study whose primary contributions to the world include justifying slavery and inspiring genocide.
Which is not to say these authors should not be read. Pearson is especially instructive. In 1925, he claimed the Jews immigrating to Britain threatened to become a "parasitic race." Under similar thinking, Jews were subsequently subjected to college quotas throughout America. Today, the descendants of Pearson tell us that Jews are the intellectual cream of the genetic crop.
This is what Barbara and Karen Fields mean when they talk about "racecraft." Power must justify itself. When it is proven wrong, it simply recalibrates. Conditions and actions are explained away as the inalterable work of genetics. Yesterday's yellow peril becomes today's model minority. In the 1930s Jews dominated basketball because of their "Oriental background" and "flashy trickiness." Today blacks dominate it through their animal strength and agility.
You see this shifting in Weigel's own article, where we are told that Richwine is looking into "race." But Hispanics are considered an ethnic group, not a race. That is because we have trouble explaining why Matt Yglesias, Sophia Vegara, Carmelo Anthony, Rosario Dawson, and Charlie Rangel can be said to comprise a separate "race." One should also have trouble explaining why Walter White, Whoopi Goldberg, Djimon Hounsou, Jay Smooth, Mordecai Wyatt Johnson, and I are all the same "race."
These people do share something in common -- their geographic ancestry makes them potential targets of white racism. If there is any fact we are warned away from, this is it. Richwine's theories originate from a long tradition of white racism, the tradition of Grant, Stoddard, and Pearson. But to say this is to indict an insupportable portion of our own history and traditions. It is to remind us that the differences between us were constructed by men who sought power, and are maintained just the same.
I imagine that had Joakin Noah gave the middle finger to Heat fans on the way out, he would have been fined. And rightly so. Perhaps I'm reacting to the angle or the still picture. But this strikes me as an actual invasion of a person's space, and an invitation for violence. Noah did the right thing and is saying all the right things. But they should strip Filomena Tobias (the fan) of her season tickets.
Reader Devin Bunten sent me a note expanding on the problems of contract-buying, redlining, and the kind of segregated housing market that characterized America through much of the 20th century:
I wanted to send you a quick note about the thread today, with some added economics. I could/should just post it as a comment, but it's quite late for that thread I'm afraid. You mentioned in the thread that "the vast majority of these guys found themselves buying houses way beyond the appraised value." A house appraisal is only meaningful in the context of the neighborhood, and the switch from an all-white neighborhood to an all-black neighborhood would have changed the appraisal substantially -- which is of course a large part of the point.
However, that's separate than how economists think about price and value, and I think adding the econ perspective actually makes the situation worse. I'd think about it like this: in Chicago at the time, there were two fundamental housing markets: one for whites, and one for blacks.
Removing the black population from competition within the white market was a(nother) large transfer of wealth to whites: whites faced less competition for the large supply of houses, which actually kept white house prices lower than they would otherwise be.
This enabled a large number of whites to move up the ladder into the middle class. On the other hand, the legal framework, enforced by terror, that prevented blacks from moving into these neighborhoods meant two things: a small supply of houses in the "black housing market", and a large and increasing demand.
This would have kept prices quite high -- much higher than any appraised value. Any black family would be bidding not against the white speculator, but against the large number of other black families looking to get a house. Because the speculators were few and the black families were many, prices were kept quite high in these black neighborhoods. The rules you wrote about obviously kept these high prices from being realized by black sellers, as blacks so rarely came to own the homes they were paying for.
Devin's last point is basically how the the history actually played out. In the overcrowded ghettoes of Chicago, there was a pent-up demand for housing. The money was there. And the money was pilfered.
I understand why academics have spent so much time studying the black poor. But in many ways, if you want to test how true this country has been to its founding creed, the black middle class is a fertile field of study. When you look at the early black home,buyers in mid-20th century Chicago, you are looking at people who did not exhibit the kind of "pathologies" pundits routinely inveigh against. Marriage rates are high. Men are working. In some cases, women are homemakers. In other words, you have the conservative fantasy of what an American family should be.
These American families were swindled by public policy, white terrorism, and private action. This was done to advantage people who happened to look different from them. And we are only talking about housing here. We are not talking about school segregation. We are not talking about job discrimination. We are not talking about business loan discrimination. We are not talking about the shameful implementation of the G.I. Bill. Or the sharecropping system in the South. This is but one front in the long war.
For young black people growing up in that era, what was the message? America's promise is that everyone who plays by the rules will have a chance to compete. If you are a black boy, or a black girl, and you watch your parents play by the rules while everyone else cheats, what do you conclude? How do you feel when your parents exhibit middle-class values and your country rewards them with pariah-class treatment? How do you then evaluate your own prospects? How do you see your country? Might you then look around, survey all the double standards and hypocrisy, and find yourself not so proud?
When the discussion turned to the launch of Sim City Online, Wright was quick to declare his first thought. "I feel bad for the team," Wright said. Beyond that, Wright had some definite opinions about the launch. "I could have predicted—I kind of did predict there'd be a big backlash about the DRM stuff. It's a good game; I enjoy playing it a lot." Still, Wright understands the audience response. "It was kind of like, 'EA is the evil empire, there was a lot of 'Let's bash EA over it,'" Wright said. "That was basically inexcusable, that you charge somebody $60 for a game and they can't play it. I can understand the outrage. If I was a consumer buying the game and that happened to me, I'd feel the same." The struggles of Electronic Arts—layoffs, reorganization and the CEO Riccitiello leaving—didn't seem to be that critical to Wright. "It's hard to talk about EA as this monolithic thing with one agenda," Wright explained. "If you move back it's like all these different studios going in slightly different directions; it's almost more like a loose federation. It is going through a lot of restructuring right now, but I don't even have the time to tune into it." The DRM issues that EA has had with Sim City Online, and the controversy over rumors about Microsoft's new console requiring it to be always connected because of DRM, do seem to have a foundation, according to Wright. "I think people care if it doesn't work," he said. "If you can't play it on planes, stuff like that... I think there are some very valid concerns about it. Also there's a perception; I don't expect to play World of Warcraft on the airplane, because my perception is it has to be on the 'Net. Sim City was in this very uncomfortable space, like the uncanny valley, almost; [it was caught] between was it a single player game or was it a multiplayer game?"I can't really play more than one MMO at a time. Evidently you can hack your way into a single-player mode. I've loved SimCity since high-school. But I'm a grown-ass man, dog. I'm not paying $60 only to have to hack my way into the game I want.
Before six o'clock that morning, Mr Tanimoto started for Mr Matsuo's house. There he found that their burden was to be a tansu, a large Japanese cabinet, full of clothing and household goods. The two men set out. The morning was perfectly clear and so warm that the day promised to be uncomfortable. A few minutes after they started, the air-raid siren went off - a minute-long blast that warned of approaching planes but indicated to the people of Hiroshima only a slight degree of danger, since it sounded every morning at this time, when an American weather plane came over.The two men pulled and pushed the handcart through the city streets. Hiroshima was a fan-shaped city, lying mostly on the six islands formed by the seven estuarial rivers that branch out from the Ota River; its main commercial and residential districts, covering about four square miles in the centre of the city, contained three-quarters of its population, which had been reduced by several evacuation programmes from a wartime peak of 380,000 to about 245,000. Factories and other residential districts, or suburbs, lay compactly around the edges of the city. To the south were the docks, an airport, and an island-studded Inland Sea. A rim of mountains runs around the other three sides of the delta.Mr Tanimoto and Mr Matsuo took their way through the shopping centre, already full of people, and across two of the rivers to (the sloping streets of Koi, and up them to the outskirts and foot-hills. As they started up a valley away from the tight- ranked houses, the all-clear sounded. (The Japanese radar operators, detecting only three planes, supposed that they comprised a reconnaissance.) Pushing the handcart up to the rayon man's house was tiring, and the men, after they had manoeuvred their load into the driveway and to the front steps, paused to rest awhile.They stood with a wing of the house between them and the city. Like most homes in this part of Japan, the house consisted of a wooden frame and wooden walls supporting a heavy tile roof. Its front hall, packed with rolls of bedding and clothing, looked like a cool cave full of fat cushions. Opposite the house, to the right of the front door, there was a large, finicky rock garden. There was no sound of planes. The morning was still; the place was cool and pleasant. Then a tremendous flash of light cut across the Sky. Mr Tanimoto has a distinct recollection that it travelled from east to west, from the city towards the hills.It seemed a sheet of sun.
"We do not plan any additional work with Lil Wayne moving forward," PepsiCo said in a statement on Friday. "His offensive reference to a revered civil rights icon does not reflect the values of our brand." Wayne began appearing in ads for the brand early last year. A rep for the rapper told The Times the split was due to "creative differences," and said it was an amicable parting. On Wednesday, months after he created a firestorm for the reference that appeared on a remix of the hit "Karate Chop" by Atlanta rapper Future, Wayne acknowledged the effects of his controversial lyrics in a letter he sent to Till's family. "It has come to my attention that lyrics from my contribution to a fellow artist's song has deeply offended your family. As a father myself, I cannot imagine the pain that your family has had to endure," he wrote. "I would like to take a moment to acknowledge your hurt, as well as the letter you sent to me via your attorneys."Jon Caramanica looks at the decoupling of Rick Ross from Reebok, and Mountain Dew's decision to pull an ad crafted with Tyler, The Creator:
Mr. Ross's lyric is reprehensible; Lil Wayne's is regrettable and tacky. (Lil Wayne is by no means the only rapper to mention Emmett Till in song, but his use is easily the messiest.) Both men issued tepid nonapologies. Mr. Ross eventually progressed to a full apology, but only after prodding. In each case justice was swift, as companies said, rightly, that their values didn't jibe with the sentiments of those lyrics—and, by extension, those artists. Except when they do, that is. A cursory glance at any rapper's catalog, from Jay-Z on down, will be likely to turn up a lyric that's offensive, in poor taste or eyebrow-raising. By that metric, almost every rapper of note would be ineligible for corporate partnerships.I think the issues is the difference between a catalog and right now. I also suspect that Jay is a little savvier than Wayne and Rick Ross. In terms of the substance, I don't really see the hypocrisy. Corporations exist to make money. We have evidently reached a point where endorsing rape, or insulting the family of lynching victims can be judged to have market consequences. That is a good thing.
I'm working on a story right now that is rooted in the racial wealth gap and New Deal era public policy -- mostly housing policy. One of the problems with writing about racism is that even though the public is shamefully ignorant of its effects and its foundational role in America, academics have produced reams of excellent research on the subject. In my explorations of slavery and the Civil War, I only skimmed the surface, and I know it. (Never read any David Brion Davis. Shameful, I know.) It's the same for public policy and the black/white wealth gap. There is just a ton of great research on the subject. Moreover, the excuse that "academics can't write" doesn't really hold water. A lot of this stuff is really compelling -- but very few people ever read it.
At the end of the day, the writer is charged with sifting through a great deal of information and deciding what to present. He may not have ever taken a basic statistics class. He certainly has not sat through the various symposiums on his subject. If he is doing his job, he is familiar with the important debates (Did racism precede slavery, or did slavery precede racism?) But at the end of the day, he is an amateur, pulling from various sources. And various disciplines. The sociology bleeds into history and statistics, and the history bleeds into economics and anthropology, and the anthropology bleeds into philosophy, and the philosophy takes you right back into history. And so on.
This is largely a vent. Or rather it's an attempt to distract myself from the tons of academic papers I have currently sitting in my dropbox. There is just so much to know. It really is ridiculous.
I think our own Yoni Applebaum gave the best advice some years back:
Choose the things about which you genuinely care, and come to know them deeply and well. Form your own judgments, and constantly question them. In other matters, attempt instead to ascertain the consensus of expert judgment. It will be right far more often than not. The only alternative is to form your own judgment upon every question, and I can assure you that you will be correct far less frequently.
If you encounter an attack upon a conventional piety that troubles you, first assess its source. Has its author taken the time or trouble to know his subject deeply or well? Then, assess its content. Does it seem sophisticated and convincing? If it meets those two tests, ask yourself how much you care to know about the matter. You can always add it to the list of things you wish to know deeply. But if you feel that you simply don't have the time, because of the realities of your life, then bracket your concerns and set them aside. The regnant consensus will do.
Wise words. You simply can't know everything, and you can't always be right. But you can be honest and you can be brave.
If you haven't seen Ken and Sarah Burns' Central Park Five documentary, I'd urge you to check it out. At the moment there's a small furor erupting over a petition calling for Elizabeth Lederer, who prosecuted the case, to be dismissed from her position at Columbia Law School.
Jim Dwyer, who is a sobering and clarifying presence in the film, objects:
The petition against Ms. Lederer, in part, reduces her life in public service to a single moment, the jogger case. In fact, she has a lengthy résumé of unchallenged convictions in cold cases, having pursued investigations of forgotten crimes. No one lives without error. And designating a single villain completely misses the point and power of the documentary. The jogger case belongs to a historical moment, not any one prosecutor or detective; it grew in the soils of a rancid, angry, fearful time.
Ken Burns added "It is just simple retribution, and we are appalled by it," he said. "We don't subscribe to any of it."
You can read Frank Chi, who started the petition, and Raymond Santana, one of the accused and subsequently exonerated responding here.
For my part, I'm a little puzzled by Dwyer's defense. Before she scrubbed her bio, Lederer proudly advertised her role in the prosecution of the Central Park Five. Ledere did not simply fail to live "without error." She sent a 16-year old boy to Riker's Island on the basis of coerced testimony. She sent four other boys off to prison, and she did this even after it was revealed that no DNA from any of the attackers was found on the victim. The real rapist was not found because of the investigative efforts of the police or Lederer, but because of his own need to confess. If not for that confession the Central Park Five would still be considered rapists. By that time the rapist had gone on to rape other women, killing one.
The notion that someone who played a principle role in this travesty should be training lawyers at one of the best schools in the country is rather amazing. We are not suggesting that our prosecutors must live "without error." We are suggest that those who participated in one of the most dubious cases in the city's history, and have never apologized for it, should not be in the business of educating the next generation of lawyers.
From the petition of the text:
Today, Lederer is still an assistant District Attorney in New York, and she also teaches at Columbia Law School. No individual who is responsible for locking up innocent boys for years should ever step foot in a classroom to teach students. Ever.
I am struggling to see what is so absurd or vengeful about this standard.
I suspect this ultimately boils down to power -- Lederer has enough so that her errors do not affect her position. Mike Nifong did not. Today Nifong is disgraced and bankrupt -- as well he should be. But by the system's lights, his mistake was not prosecutorial malfeasance, so much as picking on the wrong people.
I think Chris Hayes had it exactly right:
Along with all of the other rising inequalities we've become so familiar with -- in income, in wealth, in access to politicians -- we confront now a fundamental inequality of accountability. We can have a just society whose guiding ethos is accountability and punishment, where both black kids dealing weed in Harlem and investment bankers peddling fraudulent securities on Wall Street are forced to pay for their crimes, or we can have a just society whose guiding ethos is forgiveness and second chances, one in which both Wall Street banks and foreclosed households are bailed out, in which both inside traders and street felons are allowed to rejoin polite society with the full privileges of citizenship intact. But we cannot have a just society that applies the principle of accountability to the powerless and the principle of forgiveness to the powerful. This is the America in which we currently reside.
Last night The Atlantic won two awards. The first was for best website. The second was for essays and criticism. The essay in question was written by me. In my mind, these awards are linked. Writing for the website has fundamentally changed how I write in print.
If you crawl back through the archives of early to mid 2012, you will find me writing this story, on this blog, with some assistance from you. (The Trayvon coverage, for instance.) If you crawl even further back to the summer of 2010, you can find me writing this story with some assistance from you. (The Shirley Sherrod coverage, for instance.) And if you crawl back to the archives of 2008, you will see the same thing.
This space is my notebook. But in the borders and outside the margins you can see the added scribblings and post-its authored by The Horde. You can read through the current housing coverage in Chicago and see the same thing happening right now. People often praise this site for its comments community. They speak to me as though I am doing a public service. In fact, my aims are wholly selfish. This is my notebook. The scribblings and post-its have to actually help me.
So I want to thank The Horde. I want to thank The Horde for telling me to read Confederate Emancipation. I want to thank whoever it was that told me to read Making The Second Ghetto. I want to thank all the philosophy-heads who dive into my naive and infrequent discussions of Hobbes. I want to thank everyone of you who endures and corrects mon pauvre français.
Thank you all. For the Horde.
I should be blogging more about the travesty that is Stop and Frisk. I'm sorry about that. In the meantime, here is a quote from Ray Kelly that should shiver any African American in New York:
"It makes no sense to use census data, because half the people you stop would be women," Kelly said. "About 70 percent to 75 percent of the people described as committing violent crimes -- assault, robbery, shootings, grand larceny -- are described as being African American."
"The percentage of people who are stopped is 53 percent African American," he continued. "So really, African Americans are being under stopped in relation to the percentage of people being described as being the perpetrators of violent crime. The stark reality is that crime happens in communities of color."
There's are many problems here. Stop and Frisk isn't simply wrong because of the high number of black people caught its net, it is wrong because of what happens afterward. And while the number of marijuana arrests resulting from Stop and Frisk are appallingly high, the number of actual gun arrests are appallingly low:
Stop-and-frisk has removed thousands of guns from the city's streets -- but the NYPD detained millions of innocent New Yorkers to find them.
A Columbia law professor testified Wednesday that just one gun was recovered for every thousand people stopped from 2004 through June 30, 2012.
"The NYPD hit rate is far less than what you would achieve by chance," Jeffrey Fagan said in Manhattan Federal Court.
Testifying in the federal class-action lawsuit against the city and the NYPD's controversial tactic, Fagan said his analysis of paperwork from 4.4 million stops found guns were confiscated at a rate of roughly one-tenth of 1 percent, or 5,940 firearms.
Knives and other contraband were nabbed in about 1.5% of stops, taking 66,000 weapons off the street, the professor said.
And 12% of the 4.4 million stops during that time period -- roughly 528,000 -- led to an actual arrest or a summons, Fagan said.
Almost 90 percent of African Americans and Latinos stopped and frisked on the street were guilty of no crime at all. Effectively Kelly is saying that innocent black people should simply carry the weight, because a small minority of people who happen to have roughly the same amount of melanin have decided not to. This is precisely what racist policy is -- you create a group and then punish all of them for the sins (sometimes real, sometimes imagined) of a few of them. It is Barbara Fields' Racecraft in action -- the concealing of actual racism beneath a banal heading of race.
One could just as easily say that about 70 percent to 75 percent of the people described as committing violent crimes, could also be described as generational victims of racist policies, like the ones Kelly and Bloomberg are promoting. One could just as easily say the vast majority of violent criminals in New York city hail from neighborhoods that have -- over many generations -- been the victims of a national wealth transfer, the remnants of which are with us even today.
We don't say that. Writers and intellectuals on the Left would much rather talk about class. Same as it ever was. But this isn't going away. We aren't going away.
Don't debate straw men. If you're arguing against an idea, you need to accurately describe the people who hold them. If at all possible, link to them and quote their argument. This is a discipline that forces opinion writers to prove that they're debating an idea somebody actually holds. And quoting the subject forces them to show that somebody influential holds it -- if the best example of the opposing view is a random blog comment, then you're exposing the fact that you're arguing against an idea nobody of any stature shares. This ought to be an easy and universal guideline, but in reality, it's mostly flouted.
I was walking down the street with one of my girlfriends and I saw this young lady who had the most amazing, bomb twist-out. I said to my friend, "Oh my gosh, her hair is so beautiful. I wish my hair could do that." My friend looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Uh, it would if you stop relaxing it." I stopped and thought to myself, wow, duh. I kind of felt dumb because of course I knew my hair was naturally curly, but it had been so long since I had been relaxing. I realized that I had no real relationship with my natural hair. At that very moment, I decided to change that.I wanted to see what my own hair felt like because I really didn't know. I had no clue. In the back of my mind, I always figured I could go back to a relaxer if I didn't like it. I started transitioning for a year and a half using sew-in weaves so my transition was fairly easy. My stylist would trim off the relaxer as time went on and eventually, she cut off the last little bit of straight ends and I was relaxer-free. I finally saw my own hair in its natural state.And then... I cried.I did not know how to deal with this little afro on my head. I called my best friend crying because I did not want to leave the house. She came over and literally sat me down and said, "Teyonah you are beautiful. Your hair is amazing." She is really the main reason why I am natural to this day. Later on, we went out in Harlem and I was trying not to feel so self-conscious. The whole day, people would come up to me and say, "Wow, I love your hair. It's gorgeous." I was totally shocked. The reaction I got from other people was really comforting. I know we shouldn't look for approval from other people, but in all honestly, it really helped me see that it was really my own perception of my hair that was holding me back. That was really eye-opening for sure.
Everyone agrees that sequestration is horrible policy. That was the point. Democrats now agree that poor and working people should bear the full brunt of that policy, while Delta Gold members should bear less of it. This is cruelty, or at least the willingness to abide cruelty. From Ezra Klein:
Recall the Democrats' original theory of the case: Sequestration was supposed to be so threatening that Republicans would agree to a budget deal that included tax increases rather than permit it to happen. That theory was wrong. The follow-up theory was that the actual pain caused by sequestration would be so great that it would, in a matter of months, push the two sides to agree to a deal. Democrats just proved that theory wrong, too.In effect, what Democrats said Friday was that in any case where the political pain caused by sequestration becomes unbearable, they will agree to cancel that particular piece of the bill while leaving the rest of the law untouched. The result is that sequestration is no longer particularly politically threatening, but it's even more unbalanced: Cuts to programs used by the politically powerful will be addressed, but cuts to programs that affects the politically powerless will persist. It's worth saying this clearly: The pain of sequestration will be concentrated on those who lack political power.
As a CQ / Roll Call reporter tweeted last night, "Make no mistake, this FAA fix is a complete, utter cave by Senate Democrats and, if signed, by the White House." This is a sentiment expressed in other press reports over the last 12 hours, including, Politico: "Democrats blink first on aviation" and Chicago Tribune: "White House Scrambles For Damage Control."Consider that the Democrats opening position was they would only replace the sequester with tax increases. By the first of this week Senator Reid proposed replacing the whole sequester with phony war savings. And by last night, Senate Democrats were adopting our targeted "cut this, not that" approach.
I'm away this week, reporting. For the past few months I've been exploring the wealth gap through New Deal-era policy with a particular focus on housing. I'm in Chicago this week talking to victims of that policy, and attempting to grapple with its broader implications. I'll be out for a few days.
For those keeping count, the current exploration involves the following books:
1.) Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns
2.) Tom Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty
3.) Arnold Hirsch, Making the Second Ghetto
4.) Beryl Satter, Family Properties
5.) Antony Beevor, The Second World War (I didn't feel like I could really understand New Deal policy without understanding World War II)
6.) Ira Katznelson, Fear Itself
7.) Douglass Massey and Nancy Denton, American Apartheid (just started on the plane out here)
For those new to this I would start with Wilkerson's book. And I'd add two more that I read a few years back: Thomas Sugrue's The Origins of the Urban Crisis, and Ira Katznelson's When Affirmative Action Was White.
I think what amazes me about all of this is the degree to which we blind ourselves to policy. I remember coming to Chicago in the mid-90s, riding down the Dan Ryan and assuming that the wall of projects (there's no other way to describe them) was somehow "natural." It never occurred to me that segregation -- without "Whites Only" signs -- was actual policy. We are living with the effects of that policy today. And we likely will be for many years.
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