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Sunday, October 25, 2015

NY Times double standards

The newspaper of record was at its most New York Times-iest this morning. The front page upper right hand article, two columns thick, was titled, "The Disproportionate Risk of Driving While Black."

The online version of this story, linked above, is slightly different from the print version. The print version featured two pictures on the front page. This is the top one, of James Fields, with his friend Marie Robinson:

Right below the picture is the quote, "Every time I see a police officer, I get a cold chill. Even if I needed one, I wouldn't call one."

The picture right below is of Devin and Rufus Scales (the print article used another picture of them):

Right below the photo is a quote from Rufus, "Whenever one of them is near, I don't feel comfortable."

Mr. Fields was once charged with resisting arrest, though he says he didn't. And Mr. Scales was once charged with being drunk and disorderly, although he says he was neither. (The Greensboro city manager later apologized to Mr. Scales.) 

Assuming both men were arrested falsely, their feelings of trepidation around policemen are understandable. Fear stemming from a bad experience is just part of human nature. If you get bitten by a dog, you're going to be a little afraid of the next few dogs you see. If you get thrown from a horse, you'll naturally be reluctant to get on another one. 

But a quick look at the statistics shows that black people are in far, far more danger from other black people than they are from the police. From 1994 to 2008, 93% of black murder victims were killed by other blacks (84% of white victims were killed by other whites).  

As of July 29th of this year, 174 blacks had been killed by the police, and 321 whites had been. (Given that blacks commit slightly over half of the homicides in this country, they seem, if anything, to be underrepresented by these numbers.)

But, given that both of the people pictured above had bad experiences, their gut reactions to being in close proximity to the police is understandable. (Particularly given the constant media drumbeat against the police.)

But here's another interesting statistic: when whites commit a violent crime, they choose black victims 3.9% of the time, whereas when blacks commit a violent crime, they choose white victims 47.7% of the time. (Bear in mind, there are three major categories of violent crime beside murder: assault and battery, armed robbery, and rape.)

So if whites are fearful of blacks, that is only natural as well. But if a white, who, say, had been mugged by a black once, ever said, "Every time I see a black person, I get a cold chill," or, "Whenever one of them is near, I don't feel comfortable," he would be considered an evil person. Especially by the  New York Times.

Yet his reaction would be as natural as that of the two black men above who felt they had been unjustly harassed by the police.

Why are some natural reactions to traumatic experiences acceptable, yet others aren't? 

In today's NY Times editorial section, Maureen Dowd said, in reference to the Benghazi hearings, "Hillary Clinton is never more alluring than when a bunch of pasty-faced, nasty-tongued white men bully her." 

What would happen to a mainstream journalist who referred to, say, "a bunch of mud-colored, nasty-tongued black men?" Obviously, it would bring swift censure and an end to his career.

The New York Times has always been one of the chief enforcers of double standards. The good news is, more and more people seem to be waking up to this hypocrisy. 


Steven said...

Are those two guys 'in the hood'? Every time I see a black neighbourhood on the internet, like on world star hip hip, its looks like that: spacious and green with nice homes. It looks like more like a desirable suburb than the ghetto.

John Craig said...

Steven --
I think they're in their "hoods." The Scales brothers were photographed at the intersection where they were stopped, and I think Mr. Fields was photographed outside of his home, though I'm not sure of that.

I agree about many of those communities. I had heard about Compton California long before I went, but when I drove around there in 1978 I was surprised at how nice it was.

Steven said...

So its the people in the neighbourhood, rather than the neighbourhood, that makes it what it is, that makes a difference to the crime rate. Normal suburbs are so safe because they are selective (including selecting blacks who have education/ money).

This may seem obvious but in my mind pleasant neighbourhoods are synonymous with safety and middle class behaviour so its surprising to see videos of guys acting ghetto in what looks like a pleasant suburb.

John Craig said...

Steven --
All true. That said, there are plenty of places in the inner city which are pretty ugly, including a lot of the older housing projects. Some housing projects, though, are indistinguishable from large apartment complexes, it's the residents who make the difference. You can always tell it's "inner city" because of the amount of graffiti, the general cleanliness of the area, and the number of people who are just hanging out with nothing constructive to do around the building.

I've also driven through East St. Louis, which is remarkably ugly. Large parts of Detroit are now deserted, though you can tell, looking at the houses, that the areas must have been nice once upon a time.

Steven said...

Yeah, there are ghettos that look rough as hell too. I just googled East St Louis and it looks very American and very ghetto at the same time. Parts of Baltimore look like a half derelict shit hole too. It must have some effect on the happiness and comportment of the people therein.