Kneeling for What?

By | 2018-06-09T23:40:39+00:00 June 9th, 2018|
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Two men decided to take a knee during President Trump’s “Celebrate America” event at the White House this week. Those men were booed, and rightly so.

Of course, the incident stems from the larger problem of overpaid athletes having confused their skill at in athletics with the achievement of erudition or wisdom. In a league where so many acts of domestic violence go unpunished, yet it still manages to account for 48 percent of arrests for violent crimes among athletes, should Americans sincerely look to the NFL as a beacon of moral authority?

In truth, there is little to support the claims of systemic police enmity toward minorities. So little, in fact, that race panderers, who once celebrated the implementation of police body-cams, are now crying for a recall of the surveillance tech. Now progressives claim “police body cameras can threaten civil rights of black and brown people,” because body camera “footage review can unduly inflate officer credibility.” In other words, body cameras have been effective in thoroughly discrediting the Black Lives Matter narrative, so they’ve got to go.

Facts of the Matter
What exactly are they kneeling for, then? Do they kneel because police kill more blacks than whites? Well, that can’t be. In 2015, police officers killed nearly twice as many whites as blacks—50 percent of the victims of fatal police shootings were white, while 26 percent were black. This, despite the fact that between 2015 and 2016, America saw a 53 percent increase in gun murders of police officers attributable almost entirely to black males.

After analyzing more than 1,000 police shootings, Harvard economist Roland Fryer found no racial bias. In 10 cities, Fryer reported police officers were “more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked when the suspects were white.” In Houston, officers were 24 percent less likely to shoot aggressive black suspects than whites.

Similarly, Lois James of Washington State University found that “even with white officers who do have racial biases, officers are three times less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects than unarmed white suspects.” James’ findings are congruent with a historic pattern of police shootings.

In 1977, a report encompassing major metropolitan departments across the country “found officers fired more shots at white suspects than at black suspects, possibly because of ‘public sentiment concerning treatment of blacks.’” The following year, another report found “60 percent of black suspects shot by the police carried handguns, compared with 35 percent of white suspects.”

A Closer Look at the Statistics
Should they kneel, then, because black men are victims of unequal and racist sentencing? Not if we consider that blacks commit violent crimes more frequently than whites.

John H. McWhorter argues “many studies have shown that, when severity of crime and past record are taken into account, there is no bias against blacks in the criminal justice system.” Aaron Bandler has documented that the percentage of blacks arrested for crimes is consistent with police reports, citing data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and a study from 1985. Indeed, NCVS data from 2015 shows black men are three times as likely to commit violent crimes as white men.

The Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald affirms this in the Washington Post with her own findings in America’s 75 largest counties, where most of the U.S. population resides. Here blacks account for “62 percent of all robbery defendants in 2009, 57 percent of all murder defendants, and 45 percent of all assault defendants—but roughly 15 percent of the population in those counties.” In New York, where blacks make up 23 percent of the city’s population, Mac Donald found “blacks commit three-quarters of all shootings and 70 percent of all robberies, according to victims and witnesses.” By contrast, Mac Donald notes that whites commit less than 2 percent of all shootings in New York City and 4 percent of all robberies—though they constitute around 34 percent of the population.

Mac Donald has also documented how police officers have an “18.5 times greater chance of being killed by a black male than an unarmed black male has of being killed by a police officer.” It’s worth noting that hesitation among white officers to shoot black suspects—which can result in an officer being killed—has been attributed by both Mac Donald and James to wariness over the outrage of such shootings. Officers are afraid of pulling the trigger because of the backlash it may incur and this has, tragically, has resulted in an increase in violent crime in some of America’s most dangerous regions. The exception to this rule, however, is among black officers, who are more likely to shoot black suspects than white officers are.

Police Brutality is Overblown
Do they kneel to protest police brutality? An in-depth analysis of data from the Police-Public Contact Survey (PPCS) by Philippe Lemoine shows there’s little behind this charge, too. The PPCS is a nationally representative questionnaire conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics with a sample of more than 70,000 U.S. residents ages 16 and up. Based on these 
data, Lemoine finds that black men are less likely to experience contact with police than white men—at 17.5 percent versus 20.7 percent, respectively. Between black and white men, blacks only slightly edge out whites when it comes to experiencing more than one contact with police in a given year—1.5 percent versus 1.2 percent, respectively. Most importantly, Lemoine notes that “physical violence” as defined by the PPCS includes pushing and grabbing, while actual injuries—the “brutality” in police brutality—are rare. Just 0.08 percent of black men are injured by police in any given year, which is approximately the same rate as for white men. “Moreover, keep in mind that these tallies of police violence include violence that is legally justified,” Lemoine adds.

What we are left with is kneeling because of the claim that blacks and other minorities commit more violent crime due to invisible, yet omnipresent power structures that perpetuate injustice in our society.

To believe this, one must first accept that minorities have no free will and are therefore incapable of making good choices. If minorities had free will, they could overcome purported power structures or at the very least choose to eschew crime. According to those taking a knee, minorities are ironbound to their natural inclination for crime and society must learn to punish them less, for they know not what they do. This amounts to Progressive paternalism at its finest.

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Photo credit: Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group/TNS via Getty Images

About the Author:

Pedro Gonzalez
Pedro Gonzalez, a writer based in California, is a Mount Vernon Fellow of the Center for American Greatness.