Friday, July 8, 2016


In the wake of last night's horror in Dallas there's a temptation to indulge in finger-pointing, recriminations, and political blame-casting. These activities are therapeutic, perhaps, and indeed necessary, but they're also inappropriate so soon after the events which elicit them.

On the other hand, it also seems inappropriate to ignore the tragedy altogether, so I thought it'd be good to shine a light on the racial mythology that apparently motivated last night's ambush in Dallas.

Last spring, in response to the widespread belief that blacks are being mowed down by racist white cops like harvested wheat, I cited research done by the Washington Post and ran this post on April 20th:
If a visitor from Mars were to listen to media chatter they might think that young, unarmed black men are being slaughtered in the streets by racist white cops with alarming regularity. The facts, though, are otherwise as a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post study reveals.

The WaPo's data is displayed on a chart that reveals a number of facts about police shootings that may come as a surprise to some who take the trouble to check out their findings.

For example: In 2015 there were 990 people shot and killed by police. The overwhelming majority of those killed by police were armed and white. Four hundred ninety four of the dead were white and 258 were black (Hispanics and other races made up the balance). Most of the deceased were showing a weapon, but 93 were unarmed, 32 of whom were white and 38 black.

Among these unarmed individuals 14 of the whites and 15 of the blacks who were killed were attacking, or in some way threatening, the police officer. Of those who were unarmed and not attacking the officer, several of them were shot accidentally, or they brandished a device that was mistaken for a weapon, etc.

In short, there may be a problem with police sometimes using excessive force, but the idea perpetuated by Black Lives Matter and others that African Americans are a deliberate target of racist cops is simply not born out by the facts.
Since posting the above I also came across more data in the WaPo that shows that white cops are murdered by Blacks disproportionately to their numbers in the overall population. Forty one percent of white cops murdered in the line of duty are murdered by black males, a demographic which comprises only 6% of Americans.

That's not a statistic that we hear very often in the media, but it certainly might go a long way toward elucidating, though not excusing, what's in the mind of cops who may be a little quicker on the trigger when they're encountering a recalcitrant black male suspect.

In any case, our prayers go out on behalf of the families of those officers who lost their lives last night because some racist, ignorant of the facts, felt he had a grievance which justified murder.