Abraham Lincoln described America as a nation “conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Today’s Left portrays America as a nation conceived in slavery, and dedicated to the perpetuation of racial oppression. When CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell asked Joe Biden in the summer of 2020, “Do you believe there is ‘systemic racism’ in law enforcement,” Biden answered, “Absolutely. But it’s not just in law enforcement. It’s across the board. It’s in housing. It’s in education. It’s in everything we do.”
Such assertions of “systemic racism,” both in our police forces and in America writ large, are the topic of the latest issue of the American Main Street Initiative’s Quick Hits: “Are Cops ‘Systemically Racist’—and Is America?” Quick Hits are readable four-pagers, chock-full of key information on important issues of the day.
During the same summer Biden told America that its cops and its broader society are systemically racist, the Bureau of Justice Statistics—the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Justice—undertook a meticulous examination of the demographics of those who commit crimes and those who are arrested for crimes. I was the director of BJS at the time, and this inquiry was led by Allen J. Beck, Ph.D., who was the top-ranked statistician at the bureau and had begun his tenure there during the Reagan Administration. Our aim was to see whether police disproportionately arrest alleged offenders of one racial group or another—that is, whether police appear to be biased against, or in favor of, any particular race.
The results of this inquiry were released in mid-January 2021 and are discussed in the newly released Quick Hits. BJS compared victims’ accounts of who committed crimes against them (rather than relying upon cops’ own reporting) with the arrest records of police. For serious nonfatal violent crimes reported to police, BJS found following:
- White people accounted for 41 percent of offenders and 39 percent of arrestees;
- Black people accounted for 43 percent of offenders and 36 percent of arrestees;
- Asians accounted for 2.5 percent of offenders and 1.5 percent of arrestees.
None of these differences between the percentage of offenders and the percentage of arrestees of a given race were statistically significant. (The findings are limited to nonfatal crimes for the simple reason that murder victims are unable to identify their assailants.)
In other words, the best available evidence suggests that, in terms racial demographics, cops are arresting those who actually commit the crimes. As the Quick Hits says, “Far from providing evidence of ‘systemic racism,’ such statistics provide evidence of systemic justice.”
The latest Quick Hits also highlights other illuminating statistics. For example, according to victims’ own accounts, a whopping 70 percent of violent incidents involving black victims also involved black perpetrators. BJS writes, “Among black victims, the percentage of violent incidents perceived to be committed by black offenders (70%) was 5.8 times higher than the representation of black persons in the population (12%).”
Despite such high rates of intraracial violent crime committed against black residents, however, black Americans on the whole are victimized by violent crime at rates similar to other Americans. To quote Quick Hits, “The reason for this is that there are comparatively few violent crimes committed by white (or Hispanic) residents against black residents.” Indeed, violent incidents involving black offenders and white victims were 5.3 times as likely as those involving white offenders and black victims—a huge disparity.
Again, all of these statistics are according to victims.
“Our history shows that America is a nation conceived in liberty, which fought for and won the freedom of the English colonists and later of the slaves,” the new Quick Hits concludes. “And while today’s race-obsessed Left seeks to re-instill a divisive race-consciousness, the evidence indicates that the actions of our police forces are consistent both with the hard-won colorblind ideal and with our founders’ dedication to the proposition that all men are created equal.”