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Are Wrens Smarter Than Racists?

Race realists and racial supremacists have many odd notions. For one, they believe humans are separate species, despite all the evidence to the contrary (e.g., unusually low genetic diversity as compared similar species; two random humans are more likely to be genetically similar than two random chimpanzees).

But an even stranger belief is that humans, despite being such a highly social species, are assumed to be incapable of cooperating with other humans who are perceived as different based on modern social constructions of ‘race’. Yet, even ignoring the fact that all humans are of the same species, numerous other species cooperate all the time across large genetic divides. This includes the development of close relationships between individuals of separate species.

So, why do racists believe that ‘white’ Americans and ‘black’ Americans must be treated as separate species and be inevitably segregated in different communities and countries? That particularly doesn’t make sense considering most so-called African-Americans are significantly of European ancestry, not to mention a surprising number of supposed European-Americans in the South that have non-European genetics (African, Native American, etc).

Wrens don’t let racism get in the way of promoting their own survival through befriending other species who share their territory. Do human racists think they have less cognitive capacity than wrens? If that is their honest assessment of their own abilities, that is fine. But why do they assume everyone else is as deficient as they are?

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Birds from different species recognize each other and cooperate
by Matt Wood, University of Chicago

 

Cooperation among different species of birds is common. Some birds build their nests near those of larger, more aggressive species to deter predators, and flocks of mixed species forage for food and defend territories together in alliances that can last for years. In most cases, though, these partnerships are not between specific individuals of the other species—any bird from the other species will do.

But in a new study published in the journal Behavioral Ecology, scientists from the University of Chicago and University of Nebraska show how two different species of Australian fairy-wrens not only recognize individual birds from other species, but also form long-term partnerships that help them forage and defend their shared space as a group.

“Finding that these two species associate was not surprising, as mixed species flocks of birds are observed all over the world,” said Allison Johnson, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Nebraska who conducted the study as part of her dissertation research at UChicago. “But when we realized they were sharing territories with specific individuals and responding aggressively only to unknown individuals, we knew this was really unique. It completely changed our research and we knew we had to investigate it.”

Variegated fairy-wrens and splendid fairy-wrens are two small songbirds that live in Australia. The males of each species have striking, bright blue feathers that make them popular with bird watchers. Their behavior also makes them an appealing subject for biologists. Both species feed on insects, live in large family groups, and breed during the same time of year. They are also non-migratory, meaning they live in one area for their entire lives, occupying the same eucalyptus scrublands that provide plenty of bushes and trees for cover.

When these territories overlap, the two species interact with each other. They forage together, travel together, and seem to be aware of what the other species is doing. They also help each other defend their territory from rivals. Variegated fairy-wrens will defend their shared territory from both variegated and splendid outsiders; splendid fairy-wrens will do the same, while fending off unfamiliar birds from both species.

“Splendid and variegated fairy-wrens are so similar in their habitat preferences and behavior, we would expect them to act as competitors. Instead, we’ve found stable, positive relationships between individuals of the two species,” said Christina Masco, PhD, a graduate student at UChicago and a co-author on the new paper.

21st Century American Violence and Authoritarianism

From Gods & Radicals, by Dr. Bones:

The rules of honor common among herding societies, marked by an aggressive stance towards the world and a wariness towards outsiders who might take what has been rightfully stolen — still remain as well. Southern white males commit murder at a rate of 2 to 1 when compared to the rest of the country; in small cities (pop. 10k-50k) the ratio is 3 to 1; in rural areas it is 4 to 1. Shiftless, fiddle-footed, they wander into the towns and outposts of the coast and become painfully aware they don’t belong, that somehow they’ve been left behind and they are angry about it.  As our time progresses and the old trades close down they are once again becoming abandoned, shuttered from the social standing they hold so dear. The old compacts are gone, Rhyd. High school and a knowledge of engines won’t cut it. The land and the money are going fast and by god they know it. […]

Trump knows his audience. He framed the government shutdown as the Democrats choosing “illegal immigrants” over paying the troops. The polls seem to show the people ate it up, which should come as no suprise. Trump strongholds in the South and rural America send a much higher proportion than the national average of their children into the armed forces, so any patriotic gesture is a sure winner among them. Recall too that polls indicate American troops continue to be stronger supporters of Trump than the public at large, U.S. veterans more pro-Trump than almost any other group. […]

Last year The Military Times conducted a confidential poll that revealed 42 percent of non-white troops polled had personally experienced examples of white nationalism in the military. When asked whether white nationalists pose a threat to national security, 30 percent of respondents labeled it a significant danger, more than many international hot spots, like Syria (27 percent), Pakistan (25 percent), Afghanistan (22 percent) and Iraq (17 percent).

Most disturbingly “a notable number of poll participants also bristled at the assertion that white power ideology is a real problem.”

“Nearly five percent of those polled left comments complaining that groups like Black Lives Matter — whose stated goal is to raise awareness of violence and discrimination towards black people — weren’t included among the options for threats to national security…

‘White nationalism is not a terrorist organization,’ wrote one Navy commander, who declined to give his name…

‘You do realize white nationalists and racists are two totally different types of people?’ wrote another anonymous Air Force staff sergeant.”

These ideas come home, not only in the soldiers but in the children they raise, spreading like the sound of laughter at a politician’s promise. Kathleen Belew, in her forthcoming book Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America, reveals a 2009 report by the Department of Homeland Security that states the single factor correlating most highly with surges in Ku Klux Klan membership (going all the way back to the 1860’s) is an influx of veterans returning from war. […]

4 in 10 Southerners still sympathize with the Confederacy. Those are the same people making up the majority of the military, which is to say a large amount of people with a lot of guns holding a certain fondness for the idea of a civil war. Imagine if they had the blessing of the president, the highest honor in the land…

Read full article here:
Trump’s Military Parade Isn’t Fascist. It’s Older and Much Worse.

And from The Violent Ink, by rauldukeblog:

While it’s true that the train will now move to the next station what matters is what has mattered since day one: Trump is not normal. Even Nixon was, by governmental standards, normal. A cursory look at the facts shows that Nixon was as much of a monster as any number of other people who were creatures of the system but he turned on the system and that’s when things went off the rails. It’s one thing to rattle the nuclear saber but to do it while drunk and high on pills and to seriously say you want to drop a fat one on someone is where the other goons start looking for the nearest exit and a tranquilizer dart in the shape of impeachment.

Which brings us to Trump. It’s not just that, as we’ve said elsewhere and repeatedly, he’s an unhinged professional demagogue and amateur fascist. It’s that he really is incapable of understanding how the system works and he really is in the grip of several out of control pathologies each of which is at any moment capable of causing him to do something truly dangerous. Like pick up the phone and order someone to drop a bomb somewhere setting in motion a catastrophic chain of events.

It is not a joke, though it is funny, that at various times senior military figures have said in not so coded language, that they will not obey crazy orders from a crazy man. While that is a relief, it should still be cause for alarm. […]

Or, there will be a very loud coup which will be called something else (like the 25th amendment). […]

The damage that he can do lays in his causing the thugs to actually have to remove him and in forcing the spineless whores and old ladies of both sexes in the House and Senate and judiciary and the media to do the dirty work of what amounts to, staging a coup.

One of the things that so far has gone more or less unremarked upon in regards to the utterly vile Harvey Weinstein mess is the look – a hard look – at complicity. […] the entire creaking mess ran on complicity because the entire system demands obedience and is corrupt. And when someone says I didn’t see anything it all depends on the definition of seeing and of things.

Trump did not arrive from another planet any more than Franco, Pinochet, Mussolini, Mao, Stalin, Hitler or Kissinger arrived from another planet. They were here all along.

That he is a monster is undeniable. That he is a symptom and not the disease is also undeniable but just look at all the complicit creeps lining up for their moment when he’s gone and the smouldering wreckage of the constitution and the limp remains of the shattered republic are on display and you’ll be able to hear them say (with unintended irony just as they did when they sent off Nixon) the magic words: the system worked.

Read full article here:
The Russians are Coming! And so is The Day of Reckoning.

Violence: Categories & Data, Causes & Demographics

Not all violence is the same. There are specific demographics for specific kinds of violence and other harmful behaviors: homicide, suicide, drunk driving, accidental shootings, hate crimes, rapes, etc. But one category that stands out in the public mind is that of mass violence, specifically mass murder. And mass violence, depending on how it is defined and measured, does have a specific demographic profile. Before I get to that, let me take a broad approach.

Most violent crime correlates to social problems in general. Most social problems in general correlate to economic factors such as poverty but even moreso inequality. And in a country like the US, most economic factors correlate to social disadvantage and racial oppression, from economic segregation (redlining, sundown towns, etc) to environmental racism (ghettos located in polluted urban areas, high toxicity rates among minorities, etc) — consider how areas of historically high rates of slavery at present have higher levels of poverty and inequality, impacting not just blacks but also whites living in those communities.

The main difference among the races is that privilege within the racial order makes it easier for poor whites to escape poverty (and hence escape the related health problems, social problems, and criminal problems) because of a long and continuing history of racialized housing and employment practices, as seen in how more poor minorities than poor whites face intergenerational poverty in being trapped within poor communities. Compare this to the higher percentage of poor whites living in economically well off communities, one way that racial privilege allows whites to take advantage of wealth and resources unavailable to others by using their whiteness to cross class boundaries.

Historical legacies, intergenerational trauma, and epigenetic effects powerfully shape our entire society. Bad conditions lead to bad results. It’s unsurprising that poor minorities have experienced the worst oppression and have experienced the worst social problems, have been the most disadvantaged in the economy and most impoverished, have been most affected by the violence and have been more likely to get caught up in a racially-biased criminal system. When external factors are controlled for, racial disparities in violent crime mostly disappear as do racial disparities in IQ and much else — for similar reasons such as how racially disparate rates of lead toxicity is a proven contributing factor to racially disparate rates of aggressive behavior and neurocognitive impairment.

But what stands out is that specific categories of violent and dangerous behavior are to a greater extent found among whites, such as abuse and bullying, not to mention drunk driving and suicide. Even more interesting is that not all of it can be explained by economics, in scapegoating poor ‘white trash’ (related to this, it was middle-to-upper class whites and not poor whites who were the strongest, loudest, and largest group of supporters for Donald Trump). It is specifically middle class whites, not poorest of the poor, who appear to be predisposed to becoming violently radicalized in American society (militias, neo-Nazis, etc) and committing violent rampages, specifically public mass murder. By the way, it isn’t only middle class whites who join right-wing militant groups as was seen with the Second Klan for middle class whites also join left-wing militant groups like the Weather Underground, although the latter never sought to kill people. Middle class whites in general are the most politically engaged demographic and, when they become outraged, they are the most politically violent demographic. The violence of poor people, on the other hand, doesn’t tend to be politically-oriented and so is less often publicly enacted as terrorism.

Speaking more generally, no one knows the actual racial breakdown of total crime and other dangerously deviant behavior. What we do know is that minorities are disproportionately targeted and more harshly treated by the police and judicial system. FBI statistics only show arrests and not convictions or anything else. Besides, most crimes including most violent crimes (along with most mass killings) don’t lead to arrest or conviction. And because of racial profiling and greater police patrolling in minority areas, whites more easily get away with crimes. Whites, especially middle-to-upper class whites, are less likely have to deal with legal and criminal consequences such as the low prosecution rate of whites for drug addiction, white collar crime, and other illegal behavior.

Even many crimes that whites commit at higher rates (e.g., per capita of whites using, carrying, and selling illegal drugs) are prosecuted at higher rates among non-whites. Studies show that police are more likely to perceive blacks as carrying guns when they’re not and more likely to perceive whites as not carrying guns when they are, which unsurprisingly leads to large numbers of innocent blacks being victimized, brutalized, and killed by cops (and no official records are nationally kept for homicides by police, maybe the single largest category of serial killers, whether or not one thinks it is justified serial killing). Some data from stop and frisk shows that whites are more likely to carry illegal weapons just as they are more likely to carry illegal drugs, likely for the reason that whites for good reason are less afraid of being targeted by police. Also, even when arrested for homicide, whites are more likely than blacks to be deemed justified in their killing others such as with stand your ground laws, in particular when those killed aren’t white. This relates to how white killers tend to be portrayed positively or sympathetically by the media — called mentally ill rather than thugs or terrorists, although sometimes called heroes depending on who they kill such as the race, religion, or politics of their victim (e.g., right-wing media praised and celebrated the targeted assassination of Dr. George Tiller, a doctor at a women’s clinic).

The main thing I was thinking about is the varieties of violence, how we label crime and how we divide up the data. The US is a more violent country than comparable Western countries. It’s not that there is more overall crime in the US but that crime is more likely to end in violence, partly because US laws incentivize criminals to kill their victims so as to leave no witnesses — one of the sad consequences of emphasizing punishment over rehabilitation. But such general criminal violence is in some ways less interesting because the motivations are more obvious.

Large-scale violence tends to get more attention. There is gang violence and drive-by shootings, of course. Some prefer to separate that out from other forms of major violence: school attacks, homicidal rampages, terrorist bombings, etc. Does the purpose and method matter or should all violence be thrown together? Are harmed bystanders to be treated as the same as intended victims? Is the focus on mass acts of violence in how many are targeted or in how many are actually killed? Should we exclude violent actions that lead to large numbers of injuries but few if any deaths? Yet if it is specifically the success rate of killing we are concerned about, then how many victims do there need to be: 2 or more deaths, 3 or more deaths, 4 or more deaths? Also, does it matter if it is a private act such as someone killing their family versus a public act such as someone plowing their car into a crowd?

Much of the decrease in killings, individual and mass, has to do with improved emergency healthcare. And emergency healthcare has improved the most in wealthy white communities and the least in poor minority communities, which is to say for the exact same injury a poor minority is more likely to die than a wealthier white, a significant issue considering minorities have a higher rates of poverty and residence in poor communities. Racial disparities in criminal victimhood in terms of mortality rates is directly correlated to racial disparities in healthcare, which is to say that our society considers some people more worth saving, and that would directly contribute to the violent crime data since it isn’t a homicide or mass murder when the victims don’t die. That is ignoring the issue that higher rates of lead toxicity among poor minorities also contributes to brain damage and violent crime, a lack of healthcare being exacerbated by a lack of public health concern. And on top of that, the poor are also less likely to get the mental health services to deal with the consequences. So, both victimizers and victims among the poor are affected by physical and mental health issues, which contributes to the victimization cycle.

Depending on the focus of concern and frame of interpretation, depending on how violence is being defined and measured, depending on the source of data and how it is analyzed, the demographic breakdown varies immensely. There is rarely any media reporting on the inaccuracy and unreliability of much of the data itself, such as the bias in the very criminal system that records the data. This goes beyond who the police primarily target and who the courts treat unfairly. It also is about how the arresting officer records the details, such as they’re more likely to list the race of a black suspect than the race of a white suspect since in a racist society being black is central to being accused of a crime, which affects how the accused is perceived such as more likely to be seen as threatening and so to get shot or more likely to be judged guilty and so arrested, convicted, and imprisoned. Even black jurors are more likely to deem blacks to be guilty and more likely to do so the darker their skin. Racism is pervasive not only within the system but also within our psyches, all of it probably more often than not operating unconsciously.

Here is a clear example. The New York Times used the loosest definition of mass shooting possible and found the majority of alleged shooters who had their race recorded were black. They took the data at face value and concluded that most mass shooters were black. But if we were to be honest, all this can tell us is that blacks are the majority of people arrested, whether or not convicted, who are then judged according to their race. This says nothing at all about those within communities that are less heavily policed, those who weren’t arrested, weren’t convicted, or didn’t have their race recorded which is to say the majority of shooters and alleged shooters. We should keep in mind that most violent victimizations remain unreported (3.4 million from 2006 to 2010, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics) and much that is reported goes unsolved because in most cases no one is caught in the act and so little of gets investigated; the proportion of violent crime investigated in poor minority communities is even lower as the victims are considered of low value in our society (the higher rates of black arrests is caused by higher rates of patrolling in black communities, not higher rates of investigating crime in black communities). The fact of the matter is most violent criminals aren’t arrested and a large number of the arrested are innocent, even though many take plea deals because of immoral and anti-democratic threats made by prosecutors in their piling on charges that they know won’t stick, while few of the accused ever get legal counsel (studies have found that upwards of 7% of prisoners are innocent of the crimes they were convicted of).

Furthermore once in the criminal system, the lives of ex-cons are under careful scrutiny which increases the likelihood of further arrests. And because of discrimination, ex-cons have a hard time finding work which leads to recidivism. And because ex-cons are legally disallowed to receive welfare or live in assisted housing, they are often faced with the option of turning to the black market or becoming homeless. That combined with the fact that poor minorities, even compared to poor whites, are already disproportionately affected by high unemployment, economic segregation, environmental racism, heavy metal toxicity, inadequate healthcare, lack of public funding, etc. To add insult to injury, blacks without a criminal record are less likely to get hired than whites with a criminal record, similar to how blacks with a college degree are less likely to get hired than whites with only a high school diploma. This is a sad state of affairs since unemployment is an obvious risk factor for criminal activity. So, it is easier for a white person to escape poverty and to escape their own criminal pasts, while blacks even when they do everything right have lower rates of socioeconomic mobility.

About a specific category of violent crime, consider serial killings that is defined by the FBI as “The unlawful killing of two or more victims by the same offender(s), in separate events.” That is so broad as to be meaningless, as it has no correlation whatsoever to how most people think about serial killers. Someone living in a dangerous neighborhood who kills two people in separate acts of defense but gets convicted of homicide because of racism will be categorized as a serial killer, whereas a white person who does the same thing is less likely to get arrested, convicted, and labeled in the same manner (it is a similar problem to including someone with a public exposure charge for publicly urinating on a sex offender list along with pedophiles and rapists; labels socially construct public perception with those controlling the former controlling the latter). One set of data from Radford University found that most serial killers were blacks according to this broad definition, although it should be noted that other analyses of data shows the complete opposite pattern with the vast majority of serial killers being white (see below: African Americans and the Criminal Justice System by Marvin D. Free). Depending on what purpose or bias one has, it will determine the results one finds for there is a lot of data out there that can be diced and spliced in so many ways. And as researchers admit, there is little agreement about how to define specific categories of violence: mass murder, serial killing, terrorism, etc. What definition one uses will determine which data one uses and how one analyzes it.

That is even more problematic considering that homicides committed by whites, specifically against minorities, are more likely to be deemed as legally justified within the criminal system (along with socially and morally justified within the media) and so less likely to lead to a criminal charge, not to mention white criminals being less likely to be arrested in the first place. But if all killings were included and if whites were policed and arrested, prosecuted and convicted to the same degree as blacks for the exact same crimes, the percentage of whites in the violent criminal data would increase drastically no matter the definitions and measure used.

A violent crime is still a violent crime, even when it doesn’t lead to prosecution and punishment. If a loved one was killed by a white guy who isn’t arrested or else isn’t convicted such as his claiming justification through racially-biased stand your ground laws, would you feel better than a loved one having been killed by a black guy who was imprisoned? Probably not. Yet according to the data, the former is perfectly legal and only the latter is a violent crime. That is why a violent killer like George Zimmerman is still walking free. All of us should be worried about this for we are all less safe with violent people out in the general population, as seen with the continued violence that Zimmerman has been involved in. This is the moral hazard of racial privilege.

Some would like to dismiss the fact that violent crime taken as a whole is largely caused by whites, arguing that it is comparable to their proportionate numbers. Nonetheless, it remains problematic that, in a white dominant society, most of the violence is committed by whites. What doesn’t get acknowledged or appreciated is that these white dangerous perpetrators, for the most part, aren’t only whites but almost entirely white men who as a demographic are less than a third of the total population and represent an even more specific sub-group(s) among white men. Besides, it’s not just any violence we are talking about since this white male violence includes several of the largest terrorist attacks in US history and involves political and religious radicalization, from bombings of abortion clinics to bombing of the trade center, not to mention the likes of the Ted Kaczynski and Joe Stack. One might note that these are part of the same general white male demographic that is primarily responsible for passing, enacting, and enforcing laws; not to mention that is disproportionately culpable for most state-sanctioned violence, from police committing brutality on the public to politicians starting wars of aggression against poor brown people.

That isn’t to say we should use this as an excuse to instead overlook violence found in other demographics (besides violent neocon politicians like Hillary Clinton, women as mothers and caretakers do commit high rates of child abuse and neglect which no doubt contributes to the system and cycle of victimization). Still, we aren’t likely to improve our society by focusing on the lesser problems caused by the rest of the population with the least representation, advantages, and influence — specifically racial, ethnic, and religious minorities but also in terms of gender (and all of those within an intersectional understanding). No one is denying that poor minorities are dealing with problems and when involving crime should be held accountable, but even then many of those problems are part of a larger history of problems caused and benefited by mostly white men from the comfortable classes: colonial imperialism, genocide, slavery, re-enslavement through trumped-up charges and chain gangs, Jim Crow, KKK, sundown towns, redlining, housing covenants, racially-biased New Deal programs, race wars, COINTELPRO, war on drugs, tough-on-crime laws, mass incarceration, school-to-prison pipeline, ghettoization, environmental racism, neoliberal exploitation, and the list could go on and on. More importantly, it is an issue of leverage and impact. Because of the white majority and white dominance, white male violence has a greater and wider impact across society and so decreasing white male violence would decrease overall violence more than decreasing any other demographic of violence.

The fact remains that most Americans aren’t white men, even as most violent criminals are white men. It is hard for the rest of the citizenry to not notice this fact. And pointing out per capita isn’t always helpful, even though it is certainly relevant, specifically when we consider the total violence including slow violence and state violence. As a white man myself, I take racial problems as a personal issue. But the consequences are far beyond the mere personal. It’s about responsibility, not blame. Since white men have most of the power and authority, privilege and influence, resources and opportunities in our society, white men also have the most capacity to effectively deal with the problems of our society when those problems primarily involve white men like themselves. And if you are one of the many white men far from the echelons of the ruling elite, don’t make excuses for those seeking to manipulate you to their own advantage.

I must admit that I’m wary about putting too much emphasis on the male aspect, as it isn’t limited to men being the majority of violent criminals but also the majority of police, soldiers, firemen, paramedics, etc; any activity or occupation involving the risk of life, one’s own or others, including while saving lives. If men in general get most of the blame, then men in general also get most of the credit. But such simplistic generalizations aren’t entirely helpful, albeit sometimes necessary to emphasize in making a point about systemic patterns and biases.

The issue is that, no matter how it is analyzed, white men in particular including the wealthier are far from being above these problems of violence and other crimes even as they are better positioned to evade consequences. Not that white male privilege is all that much of a comfort to poor white guys. The purpose isn’t to scapegoat white men, even as it is to clarify the historical legacies of racism and patriarchy. I realize, as a working class white guy, I have little direct influence over systemic problems and yet I also realize that if enough white guys spoke out along with others speaking out then the systemic problems would begin to change. Still, let’s be honest in acknowledging that the system is rather shitty all around, including for most white guys which is all the more reason for the average white guy to not defend the system.

Data is a great thing when used well. But what is the purpose of the data we are keeping? And does the data we keep say more about specific sub-populations described in the data or does it simply express the biased worldview of the data-keepers along with the vested interests of the system that is being served? White men are disproportionately found among professional positions within police forces, courts, the FBI, academia, think tanks, corporate media, etc  — all of the places where data gets collected and disseminated, analyzed and interpreted. That might be a relevant detail to consider in discussing that data.

I’m not arguing you can’t find some data that supports any particular argument, including prejudices of race realists and white supremacists. It is unsurprising to find all kinds of social problems in a problematic society and it is equally unsurprising to find those social problems disproportionately found among those disproportionately oppressed, victimized, and disadvantaged. We live in a society that has been continuously racist, not to mention sexist and classist, for centuries and that is going to leave massive consequences on the victimized populations, such as being caught up in every aspect of violence coming from within and outside specific communities.

The question is what does any of this mean. Ignoring the most horrific public violence typically committed by more economically comfortable whites such as radicalized terrorism and state violence, most general violence happens in the most impoverished and desperate communities — as true for poor whites as for poor blacks. But that is like pointing out that Afghanistan and Iraq are violent places, after the US destroyed the government, infrastructure, and economy through mass bombing and ongoing military actions, one of those wars clearly being an internationally illegal war of aggression and crime against humanity. Why don’t the millions of innocent people killed in those countries by the US get counted as victims of violent crime with the politicians behind it prosecuted as war criminals? And why doesn’t the 40% of worldwide deaths of mostly poor dark-skinned people by pollution get labeled as violence? The same goes for the high mortality rates of racial minorities in the US not only because of similar problems but also because of toxicity, poverty, lack of healthcare, police violence, and much else.

Who keeps the data gets to decide what data gets kept and how it gets kept. The same system of power and authority decides who is guilty and who is innocent, who is a victimizer and who a victim. They decide whose suffering gets recorded, whose existence even gets acknowledged. They control the media narrative and political debate. As such, what does the data show and what does it hide? What does it distort and spin toward what end?

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Study shows disparity in how media portray mass shooters of different races
by Brendan Crowley

She studied 170 stories printed from 2008 to 2017 that focused on lone, mass shooters. The stories came from the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and USA Today. She defined a mass shooter as someone who kills four or more people in a public place.

Frisby’s study broke the stories into four possible frames: the shooter was mentally ill; the shooter was a thug; the shooter was a terrorist; and the shooter was heroic, meaning the violence was portrayed as a justified way to resolve conflict and blame wasn’t put on the shooter.

The study showed how often each frame was used to talk about shooters of different races.

  • Mental illness: 80 percent referred to white shooters, 16 percent to black shooters, 4 percent to Muslim shooters.
  • Thug: 53 percent referred to black shooters, 28 percent to Hispanic shooters, 16 percent to white shooters and 3 percent to Muslim shooters.
  • Terrorist: 37 percent referred to Muslim shooters, 34 percent to black shooters, 17 percent to white shooters, and Hispanic and Asian shooters were each referred to in 6 percent of the stories.
  • Hero: 75 percent of stories referred to white shooters, 16 percent to black shooters and 9 percent referred to Hispanic shooters.

Frisby said how the news media frames a story may cause readers to make false associations.

Killings of Black Men by Whites are Far More Likely to be Ruled “Justifiable”

by Daniel Lathrop and Anna Flagg

When a white person kills a black man in America, the killer often faces no legal consequences.

In one in six of these killings, there is no criminal sanction, according to a new Marshall Project examination of 400,000 homicides committed by civilians between 1980 and 2014. That rate is far higher than the one for homicides involving other combinations of races.

In almost 17 percent of cases when a black man was killed by a non-Hispanic white civilian over the last three decades, the killing was categorized as justifiable, which is the term used when a police officer or a civilian kills someone committing a crime or in self-defense. Overall, the police classify fewer than 2 percent of homicides committed by civilians as justifiable.

The disparity persists across different cities, different ages, different weapons and different relationships between killer and victim.

[…] killings of black males by white people are labeled justifiable more than eight times as often as others. This racial disparity has persisted for decades and is hard to explain based solely on the circumstances reported by the police data.

In comparison, when Hispanics killed black men, about 5.5 percent of cases were called justifiable. When whites killed Hispanics, it was 3.1 percent. When blacks killed whites, the figure was just 0.8 percent. When black males were killed by other blacks, the figure was about 2 percent, the same as the overall rate. […]

Still, the disparities in how police classify these cases remain across widely different circumstances and causes of death. Whether the killer and victim were married, lovers, neighbors or complete strangers, whether they were shot, stabbed or beaten, the trend holds. The killings of black men by whites were two to 10 times as likely to be called justifiable.

Even after adjusting for the ages of the killer and victim, their relationship and the weapon used, the likelihood of a white-on-black-male case being called justifiable was still 4.7 times higher than in other cases.

Black Crime Rates: What Happens When Numbers Aren’t Neutral
by  Kim Farbota

(1) If a black person and a white person each commit a crime, the black person is more likely to be arrested. This is due in part to the fact that black people are more heavily policed.
Black people, more often than white people, live in dense urban areas. Dense urban areas are more heavily policed than suburban or rural areas. When people live in close proximity to one another, police can monitor more people more often. In more heavily policed areas, people committing crimes are caught more frequently. This could help explain why, for example, black people and white people smoke marijuana at similar rates, yet black people are 3.7 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. (The discrepancy could also be driven by overt racism, more frequent illegal searches of black people, or an increased willingness to let non-blacks off with a warning.)

(2) When black people are arrested for a crime, they are convicted more often than white people arrested for the same crime. 
An arrest and charge does not always lead to a conviction. A charge may be dismissed or a defendant may be declared not guilty at trial. Whether or not an arrestee is convicted is often determined by whether or not a defendant can afford a reputable attorney. The interaction of poverty and trial outcomes could help explain why, for example, while black defendants represent about 35% of drug arrests, 46% of those convicted of drug crimes are black. (This discrepancy could also be due to racial bias on the part of judges and jurors.)

(3) When black people are convicted of a crime, they are more likely to be sentenced to incarceration compared to whites convicted of the same crime. 
When a person is convicted of a crime, a judge often has discretion in determining whether the defendant will be incarcerated or given a less severe punishment such as probation, community service, or fines. One study found that in a particular region blacks were incarcerated for convicted felony offenses 51% of the time while whites convicted of felonies were incarcerated 38% of the time. The same study also used an empirical approach to determine that race, not confounded with any other factor, was a key determinant in judges’ decisions to incarcerate.

Black And White Homicide Rates: Who’s Killing Whom?
comment from steven tucker

update:
why is nobody apparently aware that the fbi data is for ARRESTS, and is not the number of crimes or criminals? Just arrests.

In 2014, a full 1/3 of murders (higher percentage for other violent crimes) did not even result in a known suspect. of ~12,500 murders (reported to fbi…) only 8200 arrests were made.

of these, only 5800 convictions were had, and 4100 of those were plea bargains. a full 30% of arrestees, race undocumented, were acquitted or case dismissed…

So – 35% of murderers unknown. 30% of supposedly known murderers arrested but not convicted. That means we have stats showing that of 12,500 homicides in 2014, 4100 people plea bargained, 1700 were convicted in court, 2450 were arrested and released, and so (at least) about 6700 killers are still at large, race unknown.

5800 killers in jail. A few no doubt wrongly, but 5800 nonetheless. but 6700 unknown.

The conclusions being drawn about crime and race from such data are, in total, without the slightest validity. They are neither right nor wrong, they are pure nonsense.

Why Counting Mass Shootings is a Bad Way to Understand Gun Violence in America
by Lois Beckett

Counting “mass shootings” is notoriously complicated and contested, since there is no standard definition of what they are. Is it best to count shootings that injure or kill a certain number of people? Or should the definition focus more narrowly on attacks in which the motivation of the shooter “appears to be indiscriminate killing”?

Which race does the most mass shootings per capita in the US?
by Brady Postma

There is no generally accepted definition of a “mass shooting.” Without one, we can’t count how many there are or the races of the shooters

The most obvious definition is a certain number of deaths from a single shooting; three perhaps, or four. But should a shooting with 20 victims none of whom die be excluded from the definition? What if two people are shot and two are stabbed; does that count as a shooting with four deaths? Is a case where someone kills their whole family in their home the same as a shooter killing strangers in a public place? Should a shootout between rival gangs count?

These questions alter the answer to your question, so they must be answered first.

School shootings are primarily (though not exclusively) white, as data from Mother Jones’ list of mass shootings by their definition shows. Gang shootings tend otherwise. There are other clusters of mass violence with different perpetrator demographics. Scaling perp counts to racial proportions of the population, as you’ve asked for, skews the data away from whites and toward minorities.

Ultimately, though, the results depend on your methodology

What makes a ‘mass shooting’ in America
by Christopher Ingraham

For starters, it’s important to realize that there has never been one universally accepted definition of a “mass shooting.” The government has never even defined “mass shooting” as a stand-alone category.

The FBI used to consider someone a “mass murderer” if they killed four or more people during one event, regardless of weapons used. But starting in 2013, federal statutes defined “mass killing” as three or more people killed, regardless of weapons. And unlike the tracker, the tally doesn’t include the killer if he or she is eventually killed by law enforcement or takes his or her own life.

But, according to the tracker’s users, that definition has a bit of a problem. It includes non-gun killings, for instance, and it excludes cases in which a lot of people are shot but few of them die.

Most victims of US mass shootings are black, data analysis finds
by Lois Beckett

A new analysis of 358 mass shootings in America in 2015 found that three-quarters of the victims whose race could be identified were black.

Roughly a third of the incidents with known circumstances were drive-by shootings or were identified by law enforcement as gang-related. Another third were sparked by arguments, often among people who were drunk or high.

About one in 10 of the shootings were identified as related to domestic violence. In these shootings the majority of victims and perpetrators were white. Domestic violence incidents were also much more likely to be fatal. The 39 domestic violence cases represented 11% of the total incidents but 31% of victims who died.

The analysis, conducted by the New York Times with data collected by Reddit’s mass shooting tracker and the Gun Violence Archive, used law enforcement reports on shootings that left four or more people injured or dead in 2015.

Few of the incidents resembled the kinds of planned massacres in schools, churches and movie theaters that have attracted intense media and political attention. Instead, the analysis, defined purely by the number of victims injured, revealed that many were part of the broader burden of everyday gun violence on economically struggling neighborhoods.

Nearly 90% of the zip codes that saw mass shootings had higher-than-average poverty rates. […]

Only about half of the mass shootings had been solved, the Times found. In some cities, the number was lower. Chicago had made arrests in only two of 16 mass shootings, while Baltimore had 11 incidents in 2015 and had not solved one.

Mass Shooters Aren’t Disproportionately White
by Daniel Engber

According to the study, white and Asian mass murderers perpetrated crimes with more victims, on average, and they were more likely to carry out those crimes in public places. Nearly one-fourth of the white mass murderers and one-fifth of the Asians in the group engaged in public killings. Among the black mass murderers, this proportion was just 6 percent. Lankford suggests the relative whiteness of public killings, in particular, could indeed result from structural advantage and “aggrieved entitlement.”

MASS SHOOTERS HAVE A GENDER AND A RACE
by Tiffany Xie

Although White individuals made up 69.2% of arrests for crimes in 20111, Black men still account for the majority of the prison population, more than six times as likely to be incarcerated than White men. Black men are also subjected, according to Lawrence Grossman, former President of CBS News and PBS, to media stereotyping where TV newscasts “disproportionately show African Americans under arrest, living in slums, on welfare, and in need of help from the community.” However, men of color do not represent the majority of school shooters or mass murderers.

Recent studies reveal that most school shooters are White males, with 97 percent being male and 79 percent White. Over the last three decades, 90 percent of high school or elementary school shootings were the result of White, often upper-middle class, perpetrators.

White-On-White Crime Strikes Again In Waco
by Julia Craven

Around 83 percent of white victims in 2011 were murdered by other whites, based on the most recent FBI homicide data.

As many as 3,172 white people were killed in 2011 — and 2,630 of them lost their lives at the hands of another white person. This is compared to 2,695 black people, 2,447 of whom were killed by another black person. […]

Whites lead when it comes to gang violence too: 53.3 percent of gang-related murders between 1980 and 2008 were committed by white people, according to the Justice Department, compared to 42.2 percent committed by blacks. Victims of gang-related violence were also mostly white.

White on White Crime: An Unspoken Tragedy
by Kerry Coddett

In America, whites commit the majority of crimes. What’s even more troubling is that they are also responsible for a vast majority of violent crimes. In 2013, whites led all other groups in aggravated assault, larceny-theft, arson, weapons-carrying, and vandalism. When it comes to sexual assault, whites take the forcible rape cake. They are also more likely to kill children, the elderly, family members, their significant others, and even themselves! They commit more sex-related crimes, gang related crimes, and are more likely to kill at their places of employment. In 2013, an estimated 10,076 people died in the U.S. due to drunk driving crashes. Driving while drunk is almost exclusively a white crime because everyone knows black people prefer to drink on their porches or inside their homes.

So why is white on white crime so prevalent, one may ask? Is it the music they listen to? Is it the white divorce rate, resulting in more white children coming from broken homes? Perhaps it’s the TV shows they watch or the violent sports they play. More than likely, it is a combination of all of those things, with the exact root cause unclear. What is clear, though, is that not enough people are talking about the crime plaguing the white community. We need to spread the word, holding protests and demonstrations that call attention to this growing matter. Because, after all—-white lives matter, too.

White Men Commit Mass Shootings More Than Any Other Group — Why Aren’t We Talking About That?
by Cate Carrejo

Yet there is little public discourse about how to address this longstanding problem, because in large part, people aren’t ready to fully admit the problem exists. White men commit more mass shootings than any other demographic, but their white privilege prevents people from approaching the problem from a systemic perspective. […]

But the narrative surrounding white men are simply different than that of other groups. Even after the anecdotal and statistical evidence connecting white men to violence, people are disinclined to readjust their thinking about white men, in part because it would be so triggering all the time. If Americans walked around being as terrified of white men as many are of Muslims, society wouldn’t be able to function.

Arguably though, people, and particularly women, have every reason to walk around being terrified of white men. It’s proof positive of white men’s privilege that people still go about their lives under the constant threat of white men as a whole. White men commit the vast majority of rapes and murders, and according to some studies, they commit the most violent crimes in this country. Six in 10 sex offenders are white men, and white men kill more people in America every year than international terrorists. You can say all you want that it’s “Not All (White) Men,” but the statistics point to white men being the most dangerous of all other groups in the country.

How common are African-American mass shooters?
by TheGrio

Of the approximately 62 mass shootings (in which four or more people were killed) in the U.S. since 1982, including 25 since 2006 (and seven in 2012 alone), according to figures compiled by Mother Jones, “more than half of the cases involved school or workplace shootings (12 and 20, respectively); the other 30 cases took place in locations including shopping malls, restaurants, and religious and government buildings. Forty four of the killers were white males. Only one of them was a woman.”

The percentage of black assailants who kill on a scale such as Monday’s Navy Yard shootings is about equal to the percentage of black Americans, says former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt.

“African-American shooters tend to at least represent their statistical portion of the U.S. population and include past killers like like Omar S. Thornton, Maurice Clemmons, Charles Lee Thornton, William D. Baker, Arthur Wise, Clifton McCree, Nathan Dunlap, Colin Ferguson, and the DC Snipers, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo,” Van Zandt told theGrio.

Hunting Serial Predators
by Grover Maurice Godwin

[…] most likely victims of serial murderers are White (Caucasian). This finding is given importance when coupled with the fact that in this study of 107 serial murderers, 81% of the offenders were White. This finding supports the claims by other researchers that suggest that serial murder is primarily intra-racial. […]

82% of the serial murderers in this study were White. In research by James, he found that 86% of his offender sample was White (Caucasian).154 Also, in Hanfland’s study of child murderers, 80% of the child killers were White.

Race Matters: Study Claims White Men Are More Likely To Commit Mass Murders Than Blacks Or Any Other Racial Group
by Bossip Staff

Is there something about the white, male, middle-class experience that makes it easier for sick young men to turn schools and movie theaters into graveyards? Some studies say, yes.

Via LAWSONRY News And Analysis reports:

While the majority of all violent crimes are perpetuated by men, American mass murders in particular seem to be the territory of white men. The Encyclopedia of Murder and Violent Crime writes that, “Compared with assailants who kill but one victim, mass murderers are overwhelmingly likely to be male, [and] are far more likely to be white,” and the numbers prove it. According to Wikipedia, 75% of the rampage killings on US record were perpetrated by white males, as were 71% of massacres in schools, and 60% of workplace rampages – a seriously disproportionate number for the number of white males that make up the general population. Clearly, there is more at play here than the advantage of opportunity.

Historically, the focus on serial killers and mass murderers has been on the individual motives for the crimes, and little on the overarching trend. It’s plausible that the elevated social status of white males combined with isolation, desperation, opportunity, and mental illness has led the white men who have gone on rampages to make their pain felt by those around them in a very violent way.

Of course, it isn’t just male privilege that makes men more prone to violent crime than their female counterparts. From the time they are toddlers, men are socialized to express their emotions through violence. Western culture – and especially American culture – teaches boys that emotional intelligence and expression is worthless and effeminate, and that the acceptable masculine response to anger, sadness, and/or frustration is to act out physically. If this mentality is particularly deeply rooted in an individual man, he may find it incredibly difficult to form an emotional support system, leading to more self-inflicted and outwardly motivated violence among men.

 News outlets have a also broken down by demographic, shooter’s identities, weapons and number of victims of these shooters. The most common denominator, most of these killers were white men…Via MotherJones reports:

Since 1982, there have been at least 62 mass murders* carried out with firearms across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii. We’ve mapped them below, including details on the shooters’ identities, the types of weapons they used, and the number of victims they injured and killed.

*Mass Murder- The shooter took the lives of at least four people. An FBI crime classification report identifies an individual as a mass murderer—as opposed to a spree killer or a serial killer—if he kills four or more people in a single incident (not including himself), and typically in a single location.

Here is a sample of the timeline of mass murders. Only 6 of the 62 mass muderers featured were people of color…

Why Are So Many Mass Shootings Committed by Young White Men?

by Josiah Hesse

When trying to decipher gun violence, it’s tempting to focus on impoverished minority neighborhoods defined by structural woes like mass incarceration, poverty, lack of education, and so on. But research shows that mass shootings are primarily committed by white males—the most privileged class in society. So why are they the ones who snap? And is calling them “mentally ill” a way to avoid talking about race?

“If you look at how the James Holmes case has played out, it’s amazing how the themes [of other shootings] line up,” true-crime author Stephen Singular, who collaborated with his wife, Joyce, on the new book The Spiral Notebook: The Aurora Theater Shooter and the Epidemic of Mass Violence Committed by American Youth, tells VICE. “Most of these young white shooters—they’re not underprivileged, they have so many advantages, particularly in the Holmes case. He was dealing with an inner reality that he didn’t know how to contend with.”

As Mother Jones reported, “Since 1982, there have been at least 70 mass shootings across the country… Forty four of the killers were white males. Only one of them was a woman.” So white men have been responsible for about 63 percent of mass shootings in that span, despite comprising a far smaller portion of the total population. And while the motives for mass murder vary from perpetrator to perpetrator, since the Columbine school shooting in 1999, there has been a remarkable consistency—if not uniformity—in the age, gender, and race of the people who carry out these egregious crimes. […]

A 2013 study at the University of Washington looked at the disproportionately high numbers of mass killings—defined as having at least three or more victims during a single episode—committed by young white men in America, and found a correlation between feelings of entitlement among white males and homicidal revenge against a specific demographic.

“Among many mass killers, the triple privileges of white heterosexual masculinity which make subsequent life course losses more unexpected and thus more painfully shameful ultimately buckle under the failures of downward mobility and result in a final cumulative act of violence to stave off subordinated masculinity,” the authors wrote. […]

“There’s a feeling of entitlement that white men have that black men don’t,” Alan Fox, a professor at Northeastern University and co-author of Extreme Killing, told the Washington Post in a 2012 interview. “They often complain that their job was taken by blacks or Mexicans or Jews. They feel that a well-paid job is their birthright. It’s a blow to their psyche when they lose that.”

African Americans and the Criminal Justice System
by Marvin D. Free
pp. 58-60

The preceding theories also tend to ignore the possibility that some of the discrepancy in black-white rates of offending may be due to differential patrolling by the police. Because many lower-class African Americans live in heavily patrolled ares of the city, any transgression of the law is more likely to result in a police contact than a similar violation of the law occurring in suburban or rural areas. Using arrest data for 1975, Hawkins (1983, p. 410) observed that African Americans living in rural areas comprised 10 percent of the rural population and 10 percent of the arrests for all types of crimes. African Americans living in suburbs were actually slightly underrepresented in arrest statistics (15 percent of the suburban population and 12 percent of all arrests). Only in the heavily patrolled urban areas were African Americans disproportionately arrested.

Coramae Mann (1993, p. 103), in commenting on mainstream theories of minority crime, notes the irony “that so many of the explanations of minority crime focus on minority violence when American history is filled with violence, particularly as directed against its minority citizens.” And despite the preoccupation of some sociological theories with African American violence, Hickey (1991, p. 77) found that black serial murderers constituted only 10 percent of the offenders in is study. In fact, 97 percent of the female serial killers and 85 percent of the male serial killers were white (pp. 110 & 133). […]

Despite these condemnations of the theory, conflict theory (along with labeling theory) has helped criminology to overcome its preoccupation with criminal actors by redirecting its attention to the role of law enforcement in the creation of crime. It has also served the purpose of reminding criminologists of the fallacy involved in assuming that laws always reflect a consensus in society. Moreover, there is some empirical support for the basic tenets of the theory. Jackson and Carroll (1981), for example, examined the relationship between race and police expenditures for 90 nonsouthern U.S. cities. Because conflict theory asserts that the law is an instrument of oppression used by the dominant group against subordinate groups, they hypothesized that “the amount of resources devoted to policing will vary directly with the threat posed by subordinate to dominant groups (p. 293). If African Americans (the subordinate group) are viewed as a treat by whites (the dominant group), then conflict theory would predict that expenditures for police should be related to the racial composition of the city, the number of race riots during the 1960s, and the level of civil rights mobilization activity. The authors found general support of their hypothesis.

Violent Offenders
by Matt DeLisi and Peter J. Conis
pp. 106-17

It is plausible to suggest that race predicts homicide offenders and victims because African American and Caucasian boys differ on predictive risk factors. According to this hypothesis, race should not predict homicide offenders and victims after controlling for predictive risk factors. Indeed, after entering the eight significant explanatory risk factors in a logistic regression analysis, race did not significantly predict homicide offenders. After entering the nine significant explanatory risk factors in a logistics regression analysis, race was still a significant predictor of homicide victims (LRCS=4.61, p=.032). However, the predictive power of race was considerably reduced after controlling for other risk factors. It might be concluded that race predicts homicide offenders and victims primarily because of racial differences in predictive risk factors. The most important risk factors that were significantly associated with race and that predicted homicide offenders and/or victims were a bad neighborhood, a broken family, the family on welfare, and a young mother.

* * *

The Moral Arc
by Michael Shermer
Kindle Locations 6724-6737

[C]riminals— especially psychopathic criminals (which, recall, make up at least half of the prison population of violent offenders)— show different physiological responses to such emotions as distress or sadness when compared to noncriminal brains. “They failed to show the emotions required; they failed to show the physical response. It was as though they knew the words but not the music of empathy.” Brain scans revealed that “Our population of inmates had a deficient amygdala, which likely led to their lack of empathy and their immoral behavior.” 26

One avenue of treatment for these neurologically impaired psychopaths is neurogenesis, or the birth of new neurons in the adult brain. Take mice. If you raise them in a prison-cell-like environment devoid of stimulation, they lose their capacity to form bonds with their fellow mice when they are reintroduced to them. But if you raise mice in an enriched environment, they not only form normal attachments with their fellow group members, they also experience the growth of new brain cells and connections, which not only leads them to “perform better on a range of learning and memory tasks,” says Reisel, but also “their improved environment results in healthy, sociable behavior.” Reisel then draws the analogy with prison: “When you think about it, it is ironic that our current solution for people with dysfunctional amygdalas is to place them in an environment that actually inhibits any chance of further growth.” Of course, our natural propensity to punish wrongdoers results in a system of retributive justice, but Reisel would like us to also consider the treatment of these broken brains through rehabilitation programs and restorative justice programs,

Neuronal depletion of the amygdala resembles the learning deficits induced by low level lead exposure in rats.
Munoz, Garbe, Lilienthal, and Winneke

The behavioral deficits observed after lead exposure have been related to limbic system dysfunction. In a previous study it was shown that the neurotoxicity of lead could not be explained by the damage of the hippocampus alone. The purpose of the present investigation was to use behavioral comparisons to test the hypothesis that the intrinsic neurons of several nuclei of the amygdala, where lead has been found to accumulate, can be a target of the effects of the metal as well. A group of rats were maternally and permanently exposed to lead (750 ppm in the diet as lead acetate). Another group of equally aged and housed rats, never experimentally exposed to lead, were injected ibotenic acid into the amygdala. All groups plus sham-operated and unoperated controls were tested in the open field, the radial arm maze, and a passive avoidance task. The results showed that lead exposure (both permanent and maternal) and amygdalectomy produced a) no effect on locomotor activity, b) impairments in the acquisition phase of the radial maze, and c) impairments in passive avoidance. These results suggest an involvement of the amygdala in the neurotoxic action of lead, but not as the only brain structure. The deficits in permanently lead-exposed rats are more pronounced than in only maternally-exposed animals suggesting a longlasting, but not totally irreversible effect of early lead exposure.

Regional distribution of lead in human brains
by Philippe Grandjean

Brains from four adult males without occupational exposure to lead have been analyzed for lead. The highest lead levels were found in the hippocampus and the amygdala, while lower lead concentrations were present in the medulla oblongata and the cerebellum. The corpus callosum and the optic tract were lowest in lead. The lead concentrations were significantly correlated to the potassium concentrations in the regions studied. This indicates that lead is mostly accumulated in cell-rich parts of the brain. Differences in the vulnerability of brain regions in lead poisoning is, therefore, possibly a result of differences in cellular sensitivity to lead.

Environmental Policy As Social Policy?
by Jessica Wolpaw Reyes

This paper argues that the removal of lead from gasoline in the late 1970s under the Clean Air Act is an additional important factor in explaining the decline in crime in the 1990s. The main result of the paper is that changes in childhood lead exposure are responsible for a 56% drop in violent crime in the 1990s. This paper argues that the removal of lead from gasoline in the late 1970s under the Clean Air Act is an additional important factor in explaining the decline in crime in the 1990s. The main result of the paper is that changes in childhood lead exposure are responsible for a 56% drop in violent crime in the 1990s.

The decline in crime among black youths
by Max Brantley

In the last 20 years in particular, the FBI reports, rates of crime among African American youth have plummeted: All offenses (down 47%), drug offenses (down 50%), property offenses (down 51%), serious Part I offenses (down 53%), assault (down 59%), robbery (down 60%), all violent offenses (down 60%), rape (down 66%), and murder (down 82%).

New, 2012 figures from California’s Criminal Justice Statistics Center reveal that the state’s black youth show the lowest level of homicide arrest since statewide racial tabulations were first assembled in 1960. Nearly every type of offense—felony, misdemeanor, and status—is much rarer among black youth today than in past generations.

Did removing lead from petrol spark a decline in crime?
by Dominic Casciani

Dr Bernard Gesch says the data now suggests that lead could account for as much as 90% of the changing crime rate during the 20th Century across all of the world.

Crime Is at its Lowest Level in 50 Years. A Simple Molecule May Be the Reason Why.
by Kevin Drum

If this curve were the only bit of evidence we had, the connection between lead and violent crime would be pretty thin. But it’s not. You should read the story to understand just how many different studies confirm this relationship. In addition, over the last decade there’s been a tsunami of new medical research about just what lead poisoning—even at very low levels—does to children. […]

We now have a huge amount of evidence linking lead to violent crime. We have evidence not just at the national level, but also at the state level, the city level, and the international level. We have longitudinal studies that track children from birth to adulthood to find out if higher blood lead levels lead to more arrests for violent crimes. And perhaps most important, this is a theory that just makes sense. Everything we now know about the effects of lead on the brain tells us that even moderately high levels of lead exposure are associated with aggressivity, impulsivity, ADHD, and lower IQ. And right there, you’ve practically defined the profile of a violent young offender.

Lead and Crime: Some New Evidence From a Century Ago
by Kevin Drum

Cities with at least some lead piping had murder rates that were, on average, 8.6 percent higher than cities with galvanized iron or wrought iron pipes. Other causes of death were mostly unrelated. Only the murder rates changed1.

Red Barns and White Barns: Why Rural Crime Skyrocketed in the Late 1800s
by Kevin Drum

In the post-World War II era, lead exposure came mainly from automobile exhausts, but in the post-Civil War era it came mainly from the growth in the use of lead paint. And when lead paint became available in rural areas, farmers found it just as useful as everyone else. Given what we now know about the effects of lead, it should come as no surprise that a couple of decades later the murder rate in rural areas went up substantially.

Are Big Cities More Dangerous Than Small Ones?
by Kevin Drum

So where did we see the most exposure to gasoline lead? Answer: in places with the densest concentration of automobiles. And that’s in the inner core of big cities. In the early ’60s, big cities had double the ambient air lead levels of midsize cities, which in turn had air lead levels 40 percent higher than small cities. (Nevin, p. 316.) So if lead exposure produces a rise in crime, you’d expect to see a bigger rise in big cities than in small ones. Over time, big cities would become increasingly more dangerous than small ones.

Likewise, when lead was removed from gasoline, and children started to grow up normally, you’d expect to see a bigger crime decrease in big cities. Over time, crime rates would start to converge.

And that’s exactly what we see in the data.

Children, Brain Damage and Lead
from The Franklin Institute

Low-income children are eight times more likely to be exposed to lead paint, and African-American children are five times more likely than Anglo children to suffer from lead poisoning.

Violent Behavior: A Solution in Plain Sight
by Sylvia Onusic

Heavy metal exposure compromises normal brain development and neurotransmitter function, leading to long-term deficits in learning and social behavior. Studies show that hyperactive children and criminal offenders have significantly elevated levels of lead, manganese or cadmium compared to controls; high blood lead at age seven predicts juvenile delinquency and adult crime.

Environmental racism
from Wikipedia

The study revealed, “ Three of the four commercial hazardous waste landfills in the Southeast United States were located in majority black communities.” The General Accounting Office Study, or GAO study, solely studied off-site hazardous waste landfills in the Southeastern United States limiting the scope of the study.[60] In response to this limitation the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, or CRJ, directed a comprehensive national study on demographic patterns associated with the location of hazardous waste sites.[60] The CRJ national study conducted two examinations of areas surrounding commercial hazardous waste facilities and the location of uncontrolled toxic waste sites.[60] The first study examined the association between race and socio-economic status and the location of commercial hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities.[60] After statistical analysis, the first study concluded that “the percentage of community residents that belonged to a racial or ethnic group was a stronger predictor of the level of commercial hazardous waste activity than was household income, the value of the homes, the number of uncontrolled waste sites, or the estimated amount of hazardous wastes generated by industry”.[61] The second study examined the presence of uncontrolled toxic waste sites in ethnic and racial minority communities, and found that 3 out of every 5 African and Hispanic Americans lived in communities with uncontrolled waste sites.[62]

Other studies like the 1987, “Toxic Waste and Race in the United States,” by the Commission for Racial Justice, found race to be the most influential variable in predicting where waste facilities were located.[63]

Freddie Gray’s life a study on the effects of lead paint on poor blacks
by Terrence McCoy

“A child who was poisoned with lead is seven times more likely to drop out of school and six times more likely to end up in the juvenile justice system,” Norton said. She called lead poisoning Baltimore’s “toxic legacy” — a still-unfolding tragedy with which she says the city has yet to come to terms. Those kids who were poisoned decades ago are now adults. And the trauma associated with lead poisoning ­“creates too much of a burden on a community,” she said.

* * *

The Desperate Acting Desperately
Are White Appalachians A Special Case?
Opportunity Precedes Achievement, Good Timing Also Helps
Facing Shared Trauma and Seeking Hope
Society: Precarious or Persistent?

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
by Michelle Alexander

Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistance of Racial Inequalit in America
by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City
by William Julius Wilson

Worse Than Slavery
by David M. Oshinsky

Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism
James W. Loewen

Slavery by another Name: the Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civll War to World War II
by Douglas A. Blackmon

Locked Out: Felon Disenfranchisement and American Democracy
by Jeff Manza and Christopher Uggen

Who Are the Criminals?: The Politics of Crime Policy from the Age of Roosevelt to the Age of Reagan
by John Hagan

Imprisoning Communities: How Mass Incarceration Makes Disadvantaged Neighborhoods Worse
by Todd R. Clear

The Many Colors of Crime
by John Hagan

Race, Incarceration, and American Values
by Glenn C. Loury

Punishing Race: A Continuing American Dilemma
by Michael Tonry

Marked: Race, Crime, and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration
by Devah Pager

Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment
by Marc Mauer and Meda Chesney-Lind

Crime Is Not the Problem: Lethal Violence in America
by Franklin E. Zimring and Gordon Hawkins

The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America
by Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Daedalus 140:2 (Spring 2011) – Race, Inequality & Culture, Vol. 2

Unequal Under Law: Race in the War on Drugs
by Doris Marie Provine

Race to Incarcerate
by Marc Mauer

Doing Time on the Outside: Incarceration and Family Life in Urban America
by Donald Braman

When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Prisoner Reentry
by Joan Petersilia

Thinking About Crime: Sense and Sensibility in American Penal Culture
by Michael Tonry

Making Crime Pay: Law and Order in Contemporary American Politics
by Katherine Beckett

Banished: The New Social Control in Urban America
by Katherine Beckett and Steve Herbert

The Culture of Punishment
by Michelle Brown

Harsh Justice: Criminal Punishment and the Widening Divide between America and Europe
by James Q. Whitman

The Perils of Federalism: Race, Poverty, and the Politics of Crime Control
by Lisa L. Miller

The Politics of Imprisonment: How the Democratic Process Shapes the Way America Punishes Offenders
by Vanessa Barker

American Homicide
by Randolph Roth

Disciplining the Poor: Neoliberal Paternalism and the Persistent Power of Race
by Joe Soss, Richard C. Fording and Sanford F. Schram

Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity
by Loic Wacquant

The Anatomy of Racial Inequality
by Glenn C. Loury

Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress Toward Racial Equality
by Patrick Sharkey

Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor
by Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh

Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys
by Victor M. Rios

Ghosts of Jim Crow: Ending Racism in Post-Racial America
by F. Michael Higginbotham

Daedalus 139:3 (Summer 2010) – On Mass Incarceration

The Color of Wealth: The Story Behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide
by Barbara J. Robles, Betsy Leondar-Wright, Rose M. Brewer, Rebecca Adamson and Meizhu Lui

When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold Story of Racial Inequality in the Twentieth-Century
by Ira Katznelson

The Segreated Origins of Social Security: African Americans and the Welfare State
by Mary Poole

Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life
by Annette Lareau

The Moynihan Report Revisited: Lessons and Reflections after Four Decades
by Douglas S. Massey and Robert J. Sampson

The Sociology of Discrimination: Racial Discrimination in Employment, Housing, Credit, and Consumer Markets
by Devah Pager and Hana Shepherd

Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do About It
by Claude M. Steele

Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know About Our Biological Diversity
by Guy P. Harrison

Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History
by Keith Wailoo, Alondra Nelson and Catherine Lee

Race Decoded: The Genomic Fight for Social Justice
by Catherine Bliss

Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century
by Dorothy Roberts

The Emperor’s New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the New Millennium
by Joseph L. Graves Jr.

Race?: Debunking a Scientific Myth
by Ian Tattersall and Rob DeSalle

Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in Ameican Life
by Barbara J. Fields and Karen Fields

White Out: The Continuing Significance of Racism
by Ashley W. Doane and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

State of White Supremacy: Racism, Governance, and the United States
by Moon-Kie Jung, Joao Costa Vargas and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority
by Tom Burrell

What Is Intelligence?
by James R. Flynn

Intelligence and How to Get it: Why Schools and Cultures Count
by Richard E. Nisbett

The Myth of Inteligence
by Patrick Winn

The Group Conformity of Hyper-Individualism

When talking to teens, it’s helpful to understand how their tendency to form groups and cliques is partly a consequence of American culture. In America, we encourage individuality. Children freely and openly develop strong preferences—defining their self-identity by the things they like and dislike. They learn to see differences. Though singular identity is the long-term goal, in high school this identity-quest is satisfied by forming and joining distinctive subgroups. So, in an ironic twist, the more a culture emphasizes individualism, the more the high school years will be marked by subgroupism. Japan, for instance, values social harmony over individualism, and children are discouraged from asserting personal preferences. Thus, less groupism is observed in their high schools.

That is from Bronson and Merryman’s NurtureShock (p. 45). It touches on a number of points. The most obvious point is made clear by the authors. American culture is defined by groupism. The authors discussed this in a chapter about race, explaining why group stereotypes are so powerful in this kind of society. They write that, “The security that comes from belonging to a group, especially for teens, is palpable. Traits that mark this membership are—whether we like it or not—central to this developmental period.” This was emphasized with a University Michigan study done on Detroit black high school students “that shows just how powerful this need to belong is, and how much it can affect a teen.”

Particularly for the boys, those who rated themselves as dark-skinned blacks had the highest GPAs. They also had the highest ratings for social acceptance and academic confidence. The boys with lighter skin tones were less secure socially and academically.

The researchers subsequently replicated these results with students who “looked Latino.”

The researchers concluded that doing well in school could get a minority teen labeled as “acting white.” Teens who were visibly sure of membership within the minority community were protected from this insult and thus more willing to act outside the group norm. But the light-skinned blacks and the Anglo-appearing Hispanics—their status within the minority felt more precarious. So they acted more in keeping with their image of the minority identity—even if it was a negative stereotype—in order to solidify their status within the group.

A group-minded society reinforces stereotypes at a very basic level of human experience and relationships. Along with a weak culture of trust, American hyper-individualism creates the conditions for strong group identities and all that goes with it. Stereotypes become the defining feature of group identities.

The worst part isn’t the stereotypes projected onto us but the stereotypes we internalize. And those who least fit the stereotypes are those who feel the greatest pressure to conform to them in dressing and speaking, acting and behaving in stereotypical ways. There isn’t a strong national identity to create social belonging and support. So, Americans turn to sub-groups and the population becomes splintered, the citizenry divided against itself.

The odd part about this is how non-intuitive it seems , according to the dominant paradigm. The ironic part about American hyper-individualism is that it is a social norm demanding social conformity through social enforcement. In many ways, American society is one of the most conformist countries in the world, related to how much we are isolated into enclaves of groupthink by media bubbles and echo chambers.

This isn’t inevitable, as the comparison to the Japanese makes clear. Not all societies operate according to hyper-individualistic ideology. In Japan, it’s not just the outward expression of the individual that is suppressed but also separate sub-group identities within the larger society. According to one study, this leads to greater narcissism among the Japanese. Because it is taboo to share personal issues in the public sphere, the Japanese spend more time privately dwelling on their personal issues (i.e., narcissism as self-obsession). This is exacerbated by the lack of sub-groups through which to publicly express the personal and socially strengthen individuality. Inner experience, for the Japanese, has fewer outlets to give it form and so there are fewer ways to escape the isolated self.

Americans, on the other hand, are so group-oriented that even their personal issues are part of the public sphere. It is valuing both the speaking of personal views and the listening to the personal views of others — upheld by liberal democratic ideals of free speech, open dialogue, and public debate. For Americans, the personal is the public in the way that the individualistic is the groupish. If we are to apply narcissism to Americans, it is mostly in terms of what is called collective narcissism. We Americans are narcissistic about the groups we belong to. And our entire self-identities get filtered through group identities, presumably with a less intense self-awareness than the Japanese experience.

This is why American teens show a positive response to being perceived as closely conforming to a stereotypical group such as within a racial community. The same pattern, though, wouldn’t be found in a country like Japan. For a Japanese to be strongly identified with a separate sub-group would be seen as unacceptable to larger social norms. Besides, there is little need for sub-group belonging in Japan, since most Japanese would grow up with a confident sense of simply being Japanese — no effort required. Americans have to work much harder for their social identities and so, in compensation, Americans also have to go to a greater extent in proving their individuality.

It’s not that one culture is superior to the other. The respective problems are built into each society. In fact, the problems are necessary in maintaining the social orders. To eliminate the problems would be to chip away at the foundations, either leading to destruction or requiring a restructuring. That is the reason that, in the United States, racism is so persistent and so difficult to talk about. The very social order is at stake.

The Violent Narcissism of Small Differences

“As a kid, I saw the 1968 version of Planet of the Apes. As a future primatologist, I was mesmerized. Years later I discovered an anecdote about its filming: At lunchtime, the people playing chimps and those playing gorillas ate in separate groups.”
~ Robert Sapolsky

There are “many features of… warfare that turn out to be shared with wars in many other traditional societies… Those shared features include the following ones… So-called tribal warfare is often or usually actually intra-tribal, between groups speaking the same language and sharing the same culture, rather than inter-tribal. Despite that cultural similarity or identity between the antagonists, one’s enemies are sometimes demonized as subhuman.” (Jared Diamond, The World Until Yesterday, p. 120)

That isn’t something I’ve heard before. I’m surprised it isn’t a point brought up more often. It entirely undermines the case for racism being biological and instinctual. This intra-tribal warfare involves people who are extremely similar — in terms of ethnicity/culture, linguistics, lifestyle, diet, health, genetics, etc (and one would presume also in terms of epigenetics and microbiome). They are more similar to one another than is the rather diverse population of white Americans. Yet these basically identical tribal bands are able to not just see each other as different but even as subhuman, not that ‘subhuman’ has a scientific meaning in this context. It gives credence to Freud’s theory of the narcissism of small differences.

In modern nation-states, we forget how abnormal is every aspect of our society. Based on unrepresentative WEIRD research, we’ve come to some strange conclusions about human nature. Looking at the anthropological record demonstrates how far off from reality is our modern understanding. We think of warfare as only or primarily occurring between nation-states and we think of nation-states in ethno-racial terms. The world wars were fought with rhetoric declaring the other side to be of a different race or not fully human. That happened between the English and Germans who today are thought of as being so similar, what we now think of as white Westerners. But perceived differences has never had much to do with objective reality.

We should also put violence in perspective. We obsess over some violence while ignoring other violence. Most killings happen within societies, not between societies (unless your one of the populations historically targeted by Western imperialism). And most killings happen within specific demographics, not between demographics. For example, most American whites are killed by American whites, not by foreign terrorists or American blacks. About terrorism, most of it is committed by Americans against Americans; in fact, often whites against whites.

Race is as much a rationalization of violence than it is a cause. Westerners wanted to steal land and resources, to exploit populations. So, they invented racial ideology to justify it. But this basic tendency toward justification of violence is nothing new. As Jared Diamond describes, even groups that are essentially the same will use othering language in order to psychologically distance themselves. Otherwise, it would be harder to kill people. But creating perceived differences is quite simple (as shown numerous times: Jane Elliott’s eye color experiment, Rebecca Bigler’s shirt color experiment, Muzafer Sherif’s Robbers Cave experiment*, etc).

Race is a social construct and a rather recent invention at that — for certain, it didn’t exist in the ancient world. There is nothing in human nature that demonstrates an instinct for racism. Rather, what humans are talented at is seeing differences and turning them into categories. This could be as simple as where one lives, such as two tribal bands or two neighborhood gangs fighting. Or it could be based on what clothes are worn and, when people are too similar, they will create artificial differences such as gang colors. But once we’ve created these differences, our minds treat them as essential. We need to learn to step back from our learned biases.

* * *

* For additional insight, there is more recent analysis of the Robbers Cave experiment. It is The Lost Boys: Inside Muzafer Sherif’s Robbers Cave Experiment by Gina Perry. Along with a book excerpt at The Guardian, David Shariatmadari has a book review of it, A real-life Lord of the Flies: the troubling legacy of the Robbers Cave experiment.

It isn’t only that the researchers were partly, albeit questionably, successful in creating perceived differences but that it took a second attempt in highly manipulating the boys to finally get them to see the others as ‘other’. The moral of the story is it can require immense effort to creative divisiveness and conflict because, without intervening factors such as severe external stressors, humans naturally seek to bond with one another. Separate identities based on social categories often don’t emerge organically but typically have to be enforced upon a population by those with power, authority, and influence.

As Shariatmdari wrote:

The robustness of the boy’s “civilised” values came as a blow to Sherif, making him angry enough to want to punch one of his young academic helpers. It turned out that the strong bonds forged at the beginning of the camp weren’t easily broken. Thankfully, he never did start the forest fire – he aborted the experiment when he realised it wasn’t going to support his hypothesis. […]

If Middle Grove and Robbers Cave aren’t scientifically rigorous, does that mean they’re of no value? Perry doesn’t think so. “There was a kind of breadth of vision about Robbers Cave that is very much missing in that tightly controlled laboratory deception of something like Milgram. He was trying to tackle big issues.”

And, from today’s perspective, perhaps there is some reassurance to be gleaned from boys’ behaviour at Middle Grove. Despite attempts to influence them that a Russian troll farm would be proud of, they remained independent-minded and did what they thought was best.

“I do think it is a kind of optimistic view,” says Perry. “It makes you smile, doesn’t it? The fact that they mutinied against these guys, really, and refused to be drawn into it.”

* * *

Why Your Brain Hates Other People
by Robert Sapolsky, Nautilis

We all have multiple dichotomies in our heads, and ones that seem inevitable and crucial can, under the right circumstances, evaporate in an instant.

Lessening the Impact of Us/Them-ing

So how can we make these dichotomies evaporate? Some thoughts:

Contact: The consequences of growing up amid diversity just discussed bring us to the effects of prolonged contact on Us/Theming. In the 1950s the psychologist Gordon Allport proposed “contact theory.” Inaccurate version: bring Us-es and Thems together (say, teenagers from two hostile nations in a summer camp), animosities disappear, similarities start to outweigh differences, everyone becomes an Us. More accurate version: put Us and Thems together under narrow circumstances and something sort of resembling that happens, but you can also blow it and worsen things.

Some of the effective narrower circumstances: each side has roughly equal numbers; everyone’s treated equally and unambiguously; contact is lengthy and on neutral territory; there are “superordinate” goals where everyone works together on a meaningful task (say, summer campers turning a meadow into a soccer field).

Even then, effects are typically limited—Us-es and Thems quickly lose touch, changes are transient and often specific—“I hate those Thems, but I know one from last summer who’s actually a good guy.” Where contact really causes fundamental change is when it is prolonged. Then we’re making progress.

Approaching the implicit: If you want to lessen an implicit Us/Them response, one good way is priming beforehand with a counter-stereotype (e.g., a reminder of a beloved celebrity Them). Another approach is making the implicit explicit—show people their implicit biases. Another is a powerful cognitive tool—perspective taking. Pretend you’re a Them and explain your grievances. How would you feel? Would your feet hurt after walking a mile in their shoes?

Replace essentialism with individuation: In one study, white subjects were asked about their acceptance of racial inequalities. Half were first primed toward essentialist thinking, being told, “Scientists pinpoint the genetic underpinnings of race.” Half heard an anti-essentialist prime—“Scientists reveal that race has no genetic basis.” The latter made subjects less accepting of inequalities.

Flatten hierarchies: Steep ones sharpen Us/Them differences, as those on top justify their status by denigrating the have-nots, while the latter view the ruling class as low warmth/high competence. For example, the cultural trope that the poor are more carefree, in touch with and able to enjoy life’s simple pleasures while the rich are unhappy, stressed, and burdened with responsibility (think of miserable Scrooge and those happy-go-lucky Cratchits). Likewise with the “they’re poor but loving” myth of framing the poor as high warmth/low competence. In one study of 37 countries, the greater the income inequality, the more the wealthy held such attitudes.

Some Conclusions

From massive barbarity to pinpricks of microaggression, Us versus Them has produced oceans of pain. Yet, I don’t think our goal should be to “cure” us of all Us/Them dichotomizing (separate of it being impossible, unless you have no amygdala).

I’m fairly solitary—I’ve spent a lot of my life living alone in a tent in Africa, studying another species. Yet some of my most exquisitely happy moments have come from feeling like an Us, feeling accepted, safe, and not alone, feeling part of something large and enveloping, with a sense of being on the right side and doing both well and good. There are even Us/Thems that I—eggheady, meek, and amorphously pacifistic—would kill or die for.

If we accept that there will always be sides, it’s challenging to always be on the side of angels. Distrust essentialism. Remember that supposed rationality is often just rationalization, playing catch-up with subterranean forces we never suspect. Focus on shared goals. Practice perspective taking. Individuate, individuate, individuate. And recall how often, historically, the truly malignant Thems hid themselves while making third parties the fall guy.

Meanwhile, give the right-of-way to people driving cars with the “Mean people suck” bumper sticker, and remind everyone that we’re in this together against Lord Voldemort and House Slytherin.

 

Non-White Elites and Ordinary Americans

Blacks and other minorities don’t like Bernie Sanders, an old white guy, because he is some combination of racist and out of touch. That is what some non-white elites keep repeating. I guess they’re hoping that if they repeat it enough voters will be persuaded to support the DNC establishment, which is to say the Clinton cronies. The implication seems to be that blacks should prioritize abstract identity politics over bread-and-butter progressivism. But most blacks aren’t persuaded. Maybe that is the reason for the ever more desperate obsession with this DNC talking point. What the elite fail to understand or else try to obfuscate is that economic populism cuts across the racial divide. Non-whites in the comfortable class are as much of problem as the rest.

This came up again in a clickbait article at The Roots, Bernie Sanders Is Not a Real Progressive by Terrell Jermaine Starr. I shouldn’t be surprised by still seeing this. But it is such  cynical ploy. Starr writes that, “All of this is fine with Trump’s supporters, as study after study after study (pdf) reveals that racism is what drives their support of him, not economic fears.Sanders seems unwilling to accept this. After robust criticism for lacking a racial analysis to complement his economic equality-heavy framework, he still insists on ignoring the fact that racial inequality is a leading concern of black voters in the United States and that racial anxiety was a motivating factor behind Trump’s base.” That is unreasonably simplistic. Much of the racism is xenophobia about immigrants stealing American jobs, which rather overtly makes it an economic concern. No one is arguing that it isn’t easy to rile up people with fear-mongering during economic hard times. Anyone who knows American history would be familiar with the reality that issues of race and economics have always been intertwined and often conflated. In fact, racism has been so powerful for the very reason it is typically how Americans talk about class, as the prevailing rhetoric has always been that the US isn’t a class-based society and hence that no class war exists. This is obvious bullshit. Even those pushing identity politics know it is bullshit. But just like the racist demagogues, the identitarian demagogues don’t want to talk about the problems of class and economics.

Continuing, he brings up this accusation: “So black and Latinx people aren’t concerned with bread-and-butter issues? We aren’t ordinary Americans? Why put such a break between race and economics? Sanders clearly means white Americans when he says “ordinary Americans.”” Sanders’ entire platform was based on the assumption that most Americans of all races and ethnicities are ordinary Americans who are concerned with bread-and-butter issues. It was his opponents who assumed otherwise, which is why like this author they keep trying to cynically use identity politics to divide these ordinary Americans. “Minorities disaffected with the political process should be Sanders’ true target,” is the suggestion he offers, apparently based on the view that many ordinary Americans are disaffected. I would agree and so would Sanders. So what is the point? The very demographics that Sanders won majority support from were those that were most disaffected in terms of low voter turnout, such as the poor and young minorities. But Sanders didn’t need to ‘target’ them to win their support. He just needed to treat them like normal humans, like ordinary Americans, and not as demographic categories in a campaign scheme to manipulate voters. Starr obviously doesn’t believe blacks are ordinary Americans and so should be treated differently. That is what Hillary Clinton did in her targeted speeches that shifted rhetoric according to demographics of each crowd. And that is why she lost the election.

The relentless accusations go on: “His most avid backers consistently point to his notable showing with young black voters in some states, while dismissing the votes of their parents and grandparents.” It’s progress that people this clueless are being forced to admit that many minorities did support Sanders after all. But even here he feels the need to lie about it. Sanders’ support of young minorities wasn’t limited to certain states, considering he won the majority of young minorities across the country. Look at the demographics. Starr comes across as an angry older black voter in his portraying young minorities as being told to, “Fuck your parents’ vote. And your parents’ parents’ vote, too.” If he really is concerned, maybe he should drop his paternalistic condescension toward young minorities. I’m sure young minorities know the reason they preferred Sanders. Just ask them. It’s not up to Sanders or any other white person to explain to cynical irate black journalists of the liberal class about why less economically secure younger minorities disagree about economic issues with more economically secure older minorities. Anyway, in speaking for older blacks, this black journalist’s words can be reversed: Fuck your kids’ vote. And your kids’ kids’ vote, too. But shouldn’t the younger generations be prioritized considering they represent the hope for the future and survival of our society? When older generations put their own interests before the well being of their children and grandchildren, that is a society that is on a suicidal decline. Besides, there is no need to make this into a generational fight, as presently Sanders’ popularity has grown beyond young minorities to now include most minorities over all. So, it appears there is no significant argument in the black population to sacrifice the future of the youth in order to appease old black voters with empty rhetoric. I suspect even older blacks, many of them having been loyal partisans, have begun to see through the con game that has been played on them by the Democratic establishment.

Racists like to complain that blacks all think alike and all vote alike. It’s amusing to see a black guy complaining that all blacks don’t behave in lockstep, daring to value their personal experience and economic position over identity politics. Why is it surprising that secular young minorities who are liberal progressives support different politicians than older black church ladies who are social conservatives? Related to this is the accusation that Sanders is not a Democrat. Sure. Then again, 70% of eligible voters aren’t Democrats either and that includes plenty of minorities. That is ignoring the further issue that a ton of eligible voters, across all races, don’t vote in most elections. This is what gets lost in identity politics. The average minority voter in the Democratic Party isn’t the same as the average minority in the general population. One argument used is that one in ten Sanders primary voters ended up voting for Trump. But the same pattern of one in ten was seen with Obama primary voters switching parties in the general election. I don’t know why it is surprising that there is a significant portion of non-partisans whose support of individual politicians doesn’t indicate any partisan loyalty. Besides, if that is evidence that Sanders isn’t a Democrat, then neither is Obama and Clinton. One in four of Clinton’s primary voters went to McCain in the general election, many of them having stated that racism was deciding factor. By the Clintonista’s own arguments, that proves that Clinton is a racist. And that point is emphasized by how much worse Clinton did among minorities compared to previous presidential candidates.

Obviously, Hillary Clinton was the favorite among conservative Democrats, including conservative blacks. The complaint seems to be that Sanders was ineffective in reaching out to conservatives, which is what establishment-supporting partisans call ‘moderate’. Well, why would someone on the political left appeal to those on the political right? And why would someone on the political left support those who are pushing the entire political spectrum toward the right? Asking why Sanders didn’t appeal to black conservatives is akin to asking why he didn’t appeal to black libertarians, black fascists, and black plutocrats. Sanders is a progressive liberal and so appealed to people who share his values and views. Should Sanders have cynically sacrificed all principles like Clinton in order to manipulate people to vote for him? Why should he do that when, while fighting a corrupt political system, he was already getting the largest crowds of any presidential candidate in US history? The point is that most blacks, like most other Americans, are far to the left of Clinton and her supporters. Why should most minority voters be dismissed for the sake of a small but influential group of older black church ladies and their liberal class handlers? Still, let’s keep in mind that not all older blacks are church ladies. Sanders still won a sizable portion of older blacks with Clinton only doing marginally better. It’s not as if Clinton won a landslide among minorities. She actually did quite badly.

Starr next brings the situation into the present: “For the moment, Sanders’ supporters are celebrating Donna Brazile’s allegations that Clinton hijacked the primary process. It will further bolster his base and the “Bernie would have won” crowd, but it will do nothing to unify the Democratic Party.” Considering that most Americans (including most minorities) are independents and not partisans, why should they be concerned about sucking the cock of the party establishment? Most Americans support Sanders even stronger now than they did a year ago. They don’t want the Democratic status quo. They want actual progressivism. No doubt they are pissed about having the election stolen from them. Most Americans are tired of the corruption and want functioning democracy. Even after admitting that Clinton was ‘seedy’, he sticks to his talking points: “None of this will help Sanders win over critical black and brown votes in the 2020 primaries, if he does decide to run.” That isn’t a problem. Sanders already is the most popular politician in the country. Why is that so hard to understand?

This is what stands out to me. This black journalist is the senior reporter for this respectable publication. He has had a successful career and, at this point, he is a professional firmly lodged within the liberal class. Yet he wants to pretend to speak for all black people. Most of the black people he interacts with on a regular basis would also be part of the liberal class. The media professionals working at The Root aren’t typical blacks, much less ordinary Americans. He is so disconnected from most blacks and most Americans that he can’t comprehend or even acknowledge why, among both whites and blacks, Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician. It appears that Sanders is speaking to blacks and they are listening, no matter what elite blacks may want to believe.

Let me bring this point home. One commenter summarized it well: “Still, nothing you say can change the fact that Sanders is, in reality, more popular among Latinx and black voters than he is among whites, and more popular among women than he is among men. This is shown to be true in poll after poll. […] Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in America, and has been for some time, and continues to gain strength. He is viewed favourably by 92% of Democrats, and its more popular among Hillary voters than even Hillary is.” The most basic fact is that the policy positions of Bernie Sanders are rather moderate and smack in the center of public opinion. That is to say most Americans, across multiple demographics, agree with him. That is the actual center, the moral majority. If Sanders is a socialist, then so are the silenced majority. Why do some in positions of power and influence want to continue silencing this majority and those who speak to them and for them? I was about to say that Bernie Sanders represents the future. But the reality is that he represents the present, for most Americans. This is at a time when the American public is shifting left. If majority opinion matters whatsoever, including among the majority of minorities who soon will be the minority majority in the entire country, then the future will be far to the left of Bernie Sanders.

* * *

Skip to my Bayless
11/06/17 3:46pm
Everyone Bernie endorses loses.
This is completely false. So much so, that I’m not even going to take the time to correct you. Here’s the thing, what you libs don’t seem to get is that to us on the left, Bernie is the compromise. His policies are barely progressive enough. You all act like he’s a lunatic with these crazy assed ideas, when I see him as the only option. It’s crazy.
If you want to start stacking up losses, I’m down. 1,000 State Legislature Seats since 2009. 34 of 50 governorships. The House. The Senate. The Presidency. I guess Bernie started endorsing candidates to lose going back to 2009, now? Give me a fucking break.

Skip to my Bayless
11/06/17 4:00pm
Riiiiiight. The losses and the fact that the democratic party completely went to shit under Obama and Wasserman Schultz doesn’t count because Bernie is shallow. You people are legitimately insane. Seriously. I’ve never seen a group who has deluded themselves more. But you’re right. All I ever heard Obama and Clinton talk about was gerrymandering and the VRA and Citizens United (it was always thus). They wouldn’t shut the fuck up about it.
Even now, when Donna Brazile has basically said that the dems are a complete and total mess you just won’t come to terms with the fact that being “not the republicans” is not a platform that people will vote for. And then come the backhanded racism accusations. I’m shocked you didn’t slip something about russia in there. I think we’re done.

NoSale
11/06/17 10:39am
“Sanders isn’t the absolute, 100%, perfect candidate ever
…… so he’s trash, and I will never vote for him.”
This is how you get Donald Trump.

NoSale
11/06/17 11:25am
I’m not seeing that ‘act’ here. Economic insecurity affects minorities just as much if not more so than whites. Same with lack of universal healthcare, over-criminalization, and a poor minimum wage.
His whole message has been to not let anyone divide us up, and I feel like this over-analysis of this one statement (this article references another root article that basically says the same thing) is doing exactly that.

NoSale
11/06/17 11:30am
I really can’t answer that. It’s hard to be pragmatic and progressive. But you have a guy that wants to bring power to citizens and not corporations and obscenely rich people, all of which are verily skewed white. That has to count for a lot, and seems to be a rare thing.

NoSale
11/06/17 4:30pm
I feel like he’s done more than just tersely say it, though:
https://berniesanders.com/issues/racial-justice/
I also feel like Democrats have miserably failed to identify just how bad racism and sexism is here, and while there may be a few that have comprehensive plans to address the issue, I feel like they’ve been all talk, little to no results.
Bernie doesn’t have magical solutions for everything, but he’s getting PoCs and women involved in his orgs. I feel like he’s doing his best. Without corporate dollars or party backing. I’m willing to give him that benefit of the doubt.

skeffles
11/06/17 10:13am
There is another article up today asking why the left is failing. This article is why. Like him or loathe him, Sanders did more to energize the voting left than anyone else has done recently.

Skip to my Bayless
11/06/17 11:01am
Oh, let me make it more explicit for you: There are “crossover voters” in every election. The difference is that no Sanders surrogate went out and explicitly endorsed Trump. Brining this up as if it tipped the election is asinine. Your “claim” (if you can call it that) that Bernie did more harm than good (what metric are using and how are you defining those terms) because 10% of Sanders voters turned around and voted for Trump is dumb. Does that work for you?

Spencer Walker
11/06/17 6:47pm
More bernie supporters voted for Hillary than Hillary supporters voted for Obama what happened buttercup facts disagree with you

BazBake
11/06/17 11:52pm
Heh…
http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/329404-poll-bernie-sanders-countrys-most-popular-active-politician
Democrats: “This Bernie Sanders guy is awesome.”
Progressives: “This Bernie Sanders guy is amazing.”
Black folks: “This Bernie Sanders guy is great.”
Women of color: “This Bernie Sanders guy knows what he’s talking about.”
Latinos: “This Bernie Sanders guy is pretty good.”
Asians: “This Bernie Sanders guy seems solid.”
The Root: “Fuck this dude.”
Also, here’s the actual video everyone keeps linking Daily Beast quotes about. He’s not comparing economics to bigotry, he’s comparing economics to Russian crap.

dudebra
11/06/17 10:39am
The fact that nice, church going older black ladies lock stepped for “super predator” labeling Hillary is almost as weird to me as union members who vote for republicans. Hillary would have been much better than Trump but that is the lowest bar in American political history.
Hillary 2016 may have limited her racist dog whistles but she has never been progressive. There is no corporation, including all-time serial worker abusers Tyson and WalMart, that she wouldn’t sell out consumers or employees for.
Blacks, Hispanics, women and LGBTQ people, along with other oppressed groups, have to work for a living. Single payer health care and enforced, fair labor regulations would help 99% of all American citizens. That is the foundation of Progressive political thought and any hope of a just society is not possible without it. Bernie is not perfect but he is a thousandfold more Progressive than Hillary or the majority of the Democratic leadership.

11/06/17 11:01am
He did energize PoC. He energized PoC under 30.

Or do only “Older church-going black ladies” count as PoC?

RebZelmele
11/06/17 11:49am
From the sound of things, conservative old people who would normally move to the Republican party stick with the dems when they’re black despite still having a lot of Republican views on homosexuality, religion, and economics, and that gave Clinton an advantage with the black vote.

Juli
11/06/17 11:59am
Actually all of the church going black ladies I know voted for Sanders because they knew about Sanders. That’s the power of the media blackout. Church going black ladies who didn’t know they had options because they get their information from TV

Juli
11/06/17 12:05pm
This is not true. He energized POC when they knew about him. This is what happens when one candidate controls the party. This is so obvious. All of the manipulation of the debate schedule was so POC would not get this information. All of the media black outs. Showing Trump being offensive instead of streaming Sanders speeches was all so that POC would not get the information they needed to make an informed decision so the defaulted for the familiar instead of voting Trump (because duh) and she still lost. I am a black woman not a bro. But I don’t watch TV and Bernie Sanders is a progressive. Who paid for this nonsense.

Edgar
11/08/17 6:12am
Yes Congress votes on the bill my point was ,Do you honestly believe things would have been less progressive under his presidency . Like would things like abortion becoming illegal be a thing if Bernie were president? I don’t believe any of that was an actual worry for anyone . Theres nothing wrong with compromise , I don’t believe even you have a problem with a little compromise , I’m sure if you voted you most likely voted for Hillary which is proof that you don’t have an issue with compromise
Reply

Edgar
11/08/17 6:18am
This from the article you linked “If we are going to protect a woman’s right to choose, at the end of the day we’re going to need Democratic control over the House and the Senate, and state governments all over this nation,” he said. “And we have got to appreciate where people come from, and do our best to fight for the pro-choice agenda. But I think you just can’t exclude people who disagree with us on one issue.” how is he wrong ? I find it easier to compromise by electing a Democrat that might be behind on a few issues but can be shown the light ,than compromising by electing a republican that would never consider progressive thought what do you think

Ole Olson
11/06/17 5:10pm
You’re correct, he’s NOT a Democrat. You know who else isn’t? 70% of eligible voters. If 2016 should have demonstrated one thing with absolute clarity it’s that we can’t win elections with Democrats alone, we need independents to win.
And who is the most popular person in any party with independents? Bernie Sanders. He’s actually the most popular member of Congress in the entire nation too with the best net favorability ratings to boot.
So the real question is: do you want to start winning elections for a change, or are you happy that our party has lost over 1,000 seats nationally, and ultra-right wing Republicans now dominate EVERY branch of the federal government and have a trifecta of power in two thirds of states?

austroberta
11/06/17 10:59am
It is really quite a telling assumption, as nowhere in quote do you hear anything to suggest that POC are not ordinary assumptions. The folks that hate Bernie have ceased to argue a point without grasping at straws.
When Sanders is referring to ordinary Americans, he is referring to the working class, which includes White AND Black AND Latinos AND LGBTQ citizens, who struggle against a very small sliver of American society that is wealthy, powerful and can create laws which benefit them and only them.
Many times this country has made significant strides in social justice and economic progress, when POC AND Whites join together to fight the forces that oppress. Not all whites are demons and not all of them are exclusionary.

CrunchyThoughts
11/06/17 11:51am
Posts like this spur thoughts that theRoot is simply another establishment beachhead in the battle for our minds. No, he’s (Sanders) not perfect, but black people and black media have backed the Clintons for decades, and they’ve done nothing substantively positive for black/brown people or race relations.
Black people are not in position for any mass of dramatic change or severing from the system. So why not work with this man if you’re going to, currently, support this paradigm? He’s offered solutions that would ease the economic burden for everyone, and lessen if not remove the economic stress that inhibits real dialog and listening on the topic of race (as it pertains to anything). Just like mama doesn’t care about whatever game her kid wants when she can’t keep food on the table, when folks are struggling with debt (the real enemy) and hope, they leave little mental and emotional space for doing anything but solving that subsistence problem.
Stop playing checkers and think about the next generations.

ArtistAtLarge
11/06/17 10:55am
This country has moved so far right that ANY halt or reversal, no matter how small, it very damn important!
Fuck this purity bullshit. This country is in deep, deep shit, Poster child police state, deep state.

FireroseNekowolf
11/06/17 10:36am
I been through this on another one earlier. I think you’re reading it wrong. I think you got his strategy wrong. I think, personally, some people don’t get it because they’re not of the same political mindset.
Edit: Which, well, I am. I am a social democrat. Or “socialist” if you want. Just don’t tell that to the Communists, oh boy they get so salty when you compare social democracy to socialism!
You’re right, he’s not a progressive. He’s a social democrat. He’s not a “liberal,” he’s a “socialist.”
I’m not saying he’s perfect, but I always hear about how he ignores race or however you’d prefer to put it, I’m not really sure myself, but I’ve never seen it really explained why. Just “he does.”
He’s not saying minorities are not concerned with economic issues. But yes, he is saying “equally or more important, economics.” Because he’s a social democrat!
Look. Who are the poorest demographics in the US? Black and Latino minorities, no? So who would benefit the most from economic changes? Those same minorities.
But “equally or more importantly,” look throughout modern history. Social politics is tied to the state of economics, and economics is more widespread than minority issues. This is not to invalidate those issues or to suggest they’re put on the back burner. Absolutely not. Both can be engaged at the same time, because we’re humans, not some fucking computer from the 70s that can only run one process at a time.
However, economics is a cornerstone to leading that social change, both for the benefit of minorities, who with a new economic landscape would be able to have health care, have college, which brings down future debts and improving quality of life while finally getting at least a foot in the door, at all, even if small, for some degree of upward economic mobility, and for the benefit of the social policies that affect them, because when people have greater economic protections, they are more likely to be convinced of changing social attitudes.
No, it won’t stop racism, or solve it, or whatever. What it would do, however, is help level the playing field by bringing minorities upward most significantly, thereby aiding, with concerted efforts among lawmakers and representative organizations, in tackling racism in a way that could be quite effective because you’ve weakened one of the greatest tools of those who seek superiority – economics.
After all, what’s one of the best ways to suppress a minority? Keeping them poor, because when they’re poor, they’re not as integrated into the wider social system. By bringing them up economically, it allows them to become more integrated, where they became closer to the familiarity of the superior, for a lack of a better way of phrasing it.
That’s how we social democrats look at this issue. It isn’t that racism doesn’t matter, it’s that you have to tackle the economic structure otherwise you won’t make fruitful gains in the arena of social policy as well as economics, and that’s not even going into the distinction of class politics, which encompasses whites, blacks, latinos, etc. So it’s kind of a “greater good” kind of thing, cause, you know, classism is kind of our biggest deal as a social democrat.

AarghAarghII
11/06/17 11:58am
Speak for yourself, I may not be black or Latinx, but I am still an immigrant and proud to be a Sanders supporter. Your repeated attempts to paint Sanders as a whites-only candidate while devoid of any substantial policy discussion is telling in itself – it’s not the policies that matter, it’s the cult of personality that matters to you. For me, Sanders’ position as the best candidate was cemented when he boldly stood up against the leverage of Israel in US politics during the primaries and advocated for Palestinians. That was one of the most exciting moments of the 2016 election for me, especially considering the debate took place in NYC.
I’ll tell you what matters to me: a candidate that is willing to swing back at the economic conservatives in the DNC and RNC who insist that all deficits are bad (see the MMT article from Splinter for more on this) and those that are willing to overlook the harmful effects of austerities in small towns all across the US, including Flint and now Oakland, MI, Kansas, Puerto Rico and Wisconsin. All disproportionately affecting poor people, certainly including people of color. I challenge you to point out the real, substantial differences in identity politics between Hillary and Sanders if you really believe that Sanders is a whites-only candidate. As far as I can tell, their differences in this area are miniscule at best, it is their economics that differ widely with one candidate deriding the other’s economic ambition as ‘ponies.’ I bet fiscal conservatives felt they were real clever when PROMESA was enacted, sounding fiscally prudent and all. Enjoy the big bill coming your way as I laugh at your pennywise, pound foolishness. We have seen this movie before from the Tequila crisis to Argentina to the IMF age to modern day Greece, and some of us will not go along with any candidate that endorses the perverse notion of socialism for the rich and monetarism for the poor.

Torslin
11/06/17 11:45am
Really whether Bernie would have won or not is predicated on one specific group. The Obama voters who voted for Trump.
If you believe they voted for Trump because he appealed directly to their racism and they voted for Obama because he offered policies he liked, while Romney offered neither, Trump would have won anyway.
If you believe they voted for Trump because either they were worried economically, or because the Clintons have been hated in the midwest since Bill backtracked on NAFTA. He would have won.
While most voters who voted for Trump went with the former, i think that small group went with the latter, just because i know how angry people get about Clinton in those areas and did well before sanders. In a way i think Sanders support was over inflated due to Clinton hate. There are plenty of middle of the road people i know who voted Sanders.
That said, an actual progressive who excites the base could make winning way easier, as republicans have shown crossover moderate plans don’t work anymore.

Nightfox360
11/06/17 11:35am
These articles talking about immagration from a non hispanic or non immigrant writers is like me a hispanic person writing an article about slavery or black issues. And as much as i hate hearing people say it as I fully understand what went down, Obama was known as the Deporter in Chief and as for Bernie he spoke of fundamental issues that will plauge Americans weither a Republican racist or a Social Liberal Democrat hold office. Talking about both race relations and other social issues is important but so are economic issues the two arent mutualy exclusive both play a part in both uniting and dividing people. Even I someone who Im sure lacks the education this writer was fortunate enough to attain knows fully well that racial equality and equality of opportunity are needed to create a strong and fully functioning society.

What Kind of Diversity?

Let me respond to a few articles and papers. They cover different aspects of diversity. I have long been bothered by some of the issues involved and how they are handled. It is disappointing and frustrating to see the endless flow of low quality discussion and analysis, not to mention the inadequate research.

I’ll begin with The Costs of Ethnic Diversity With Garett Jones from The Economics Detective. It’s an old argument, that diversity is bad, bigotry gussied up in scientific language. I’m not racist because I’m a good liberal, says the author; it’s just the damning facts speaking for themselves. Yet other facts say otherwise, as it always depends on which facts one uses and interprets, behind which can be hidden beliefs and biases. To emphasize this point, one could note that fairly high diversity is found among some of the wealthiest, not to mention among the most stable and influential, countries in the world: UK, US, Canada, Australia, Spain, etc. And most of the struggling and dysfunctional countries are extremely homogeneous (or at least perceived as ‘homogeneous’ from the perspective of the Western racial order). That isn’t to blame homogeneity instead, as there are other factors involved such as post-colonial legacies and neo-imperial meddling. But obviously there is no consistent global pattern in lack of diversity, however defined, and societal problems. Even outside of the West, there are diverse societies that manage to get positive results — Amanda Ripley writes (The Smartest Kids in the World, pp. 160-161):

“In Singapore, the opposite happened. There, the population was also diverse, about 77 percent Chinese, 14 percent Malay, 8 percent Indian, and 1.5 percent other. People spoke Chinese, English, Malay, and Tamil and followed five different faiths (Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, and Hinduism). Yet Singaporeans scored at the top of the world on PISA, right beside Finland and Korea. There was virtually no gap in scores between immigrant and native-born students.
“Of course , Singapore was essentially another planet compared to most countries. It was ruled by an authoritarian regime with an unusually high-performing bureaucracy. The government controlled most of the rigor variables, from the caliber of teacher recruits to the mix of ethnicities in housing developments. Singapore did not have the kind of extreme segregation that existed in the United States, because policy makers had forbidden it.”

Other research shows that segregation is a key factor. Diversity only correlates to social problems when populations are segregated. As Eric Uslaner explained (Segregation and Mistrust, Kindle Locations 65-73): “[C]orrelations across countries and American states between trust and all sorts of measures of diversity were about as close to zero as one can imagine… [L]iving among people who are different from yourself didn’t make you less trusting in people who are different from yourself. But that left me with a quandary: Does the composition of where you live not matter at all for trust in people unlike yourself? I had no ready answer, but going through the cross-national data set I had constructed, I found a variable that seemed remotely relevant: a crude ordinal measure (from the Minorities at Risk Project at my own university, indeed just one floor below my office) of whether minorities lived apart from the majority population. I found a moderately strong correlation with trust across nations – a relationship that held even controlling for other factors in the trust models I had estimated in my 2002 book. It wasn’t diversity but segregation that led to less trust.” Then again, high inequality studies show that economic segregation causes the exact same problems as racial/ethnic segregation. Maybe it isn’t diversity itself that is problematic but how some societies have failed to deal with it well.

It’s interesting that these people who criticize diversity of race, ethnicity, religion, language, etc rarely if ever talk about other forms of diversity such as socioeconomic class, involving issues of vast differences in funding and resources, education and healthcare, environmental racism and toxicity rates, police brutality and ghettoization, biases and prejudices, opportunities and privileges, power and influence. Capitalism (specifically in the form of corporatism, plutocracy, inverted totalitarianism, and social darwinism) causes high levels of income and wealth diversity, i.e., inequality. If diversity was bad, then so is capitalism that causes class diversity. But maybe the main problem of class diversity or any other form of diversity is social division that leads to political divisiveness. Diversity wouldn’t necessarily be problematic, if there were movement between populations. Without racial/ethnic segregation, there is more racial/ethnic integration and assimilation. And without economic segregation, there is more economic mobility and cross-generational wealth accrual. That means the solution is to not isolate populations out of xenophobia and bigotry, especially to not create permanent underclasses of any variety.

Here is the complaint I have with this kind of people, besides some of them expressing anti-diversity fear-mongering or else complicitly going along with it. Between them and I, we are focusing on different evidence which is fine to an extent. But the difficulty is that, generally speaking, I know their evidence while most of them don’t know mine. And I can explain their evidence while they can’t explain mine. It isn’t usually a meeting of minds through fair debate based on mutual respect and mutual concern for truth-seeking. Their arguments almost always come down to cherrypicked data. That isn’t to say their data shouldn’t be accounted for. It’s just it’s hard to take them seriously when they refuse to even acknowledge the data that disproves, undermines, and complicates their dogmatic beliefs or half-thought opinions. I admit that diversity is problematic under particular circumstances. What most of them can’t acknowledge is that diversity is beneficial under other circumstances. That would force them to admit that it isn’t diversity itself that is the crux of the matter. That said, the above piece from The Economics Detective does admit the profit motive for businesses being diversity-friendly and so I’ll give the author some credit for genuinely being a good liberal, but I must take off a few points for his all too typical carelessness in not being fully informed.

Now to the next example. Someone stated that: “The article below said that people are less willing to give when different groups are different status/class/privilege, not necessarily when different in and of itself” This person was referring to the following: Economic versus Cultural Differences: Forms of Ethnic Diversity and Public Goods Provision by Kate Baldwin and John D. Huber. I’d point out there was further research that showed it is more complicated than the original paper’s conclusion: Ethnic divisions and public goods provision, revisited by Rachel M. Gisselquist. Even taking the original paper as is, it still doesn’t answer my criticisms. They aren’t dealing with social identity (race, class, etc) as social construction and social perception created through social control and maintained through social order. That is where such things as segregation come in.

I’m not seeing much good research to explore these more fundamental issues, which leaves them as confounding factors that remain uncontrolled and unaccounted for. There are so many problems and limitations in this area of research. The world we live in was created by centuries of colonial imperialism that has been continuously racist and classist up into the present. What is being measured in any of these countries is not necessarily about diversity but about the legacies of systemic and institutional racism and classism on a global scale. And I’d argue there is no way to separate the racism from the classism, which should be obvious to anyone who has given it much thought. We are talking about complex systems with inseparable factors, such as segregation/ghettoization and integration/assimilation. With diversity, this issue is who gets to define and enforce social identities. Colonial imperialism gave birth to both a particular social/racial/class order and what became the WEIRD culture. The researchers are the inheritors of this all and then enforce their biased views onto their research.

I don’t trust that many of these political and economic researchers understand what is involved. An anthropologist would better understand what I’m talking about, not just the diversity of subjects but more importantly the diversity between scientist and subjects. Researchers from entirely different cultures might approach this far differently. Anthropologists have done much interesting work that probes much deeper than most research (David Graeber could be a useful anthropologist to look into about these overlapping issues). For example, how would an anthropologist who is a Native American study the diversity of Native Americans in states or regions where multiple tribes live, specifically across a history of white supremacy in creating the reservation system? Also, how does the perceived diversity of European-Americans in earlier US history compare to perceived homogeneity of Europeans at present? Might it be important who was in power when diversity was enforced on a population in contrast to when homogeneity was enforced? What about the power dynamic of mostly WEIRD researchers have in a WEIRD society in imposing their views and biases? Is Asia, the majority of the world’s population, diverse as Asians experience it or homogeneous as Westerns perceive it?

Here are the last two I’ll respond to: Why Does Ethnic Diversity Undermine Public Goods Provision? by Habyarimana, Humphreys, Posner, & Weinstein; and Ethnic diversity, social sanctions, and public goods in Kenya by Edward Miguel & Mary Kay Gugerty. These miss a major point. Diversity and homogeneity are built on social constructs. They are dependent on public perception and social control. A society can choose to maintain diversity or not. If we don’t economically and racially/ethnically segregate people while instead treating people fairly and equally, promoting integration and assimilation, and ensuring the social democratic resources and opportunites for all, including geographic and economic mobility… if we do that, then diversity will over the generations turn into homogeneity, as has been historically proven across the world many times over. It has happened repeatedly since the beginning of the species. The Germanic tribes were once diverse, but now they just think of themselves as Germans. The British were once diverse, but have slowly developed a common identity. The Piraha originated from separate ethnic tribes that came together, but now they are just the Piraha. The opposite can happen as well. Take people from the same society and treat them differently. In a short period of time, the two invented groups will immediately take on the new social identities. To go along with this, it won’t take them long to create new cultures, traditions, attire, and ways of talking. You can see this when people join an organization, convert to a religion, get a new group of friends — they will change their appearance and behavior.

Whether enforced from above or taken on by individuals, social influences are powerful. One great example of this was Jane Elliott’s eye color experiment. Along these lines, a ton of interesting studies have been done about the observer-expectancy effect, subject-expectancy effect, Pygmallion/Rosenthal effect. Hawthorne/observer effect, golem effect, etc. I’d add stereotype effect to this list, which deals with group identities more directly. How people are identified doesn’t just shape how they identify but also determines how they are treated and how they behave. Basically, these are self-fulfilling prophecies. Such experiments were only done over short periods. Imagine the results attained by continuing the same experiment across multiple generations or even centuries. Social constructs should be taken seriously, especially when made socially real through disenfranchisement, impoverishment, high inequality, segregation/ghettoization, systemic prejudice and biases, concentrated power, an authoritarian state, police enforcement, and much else. When we are talking about ethnic diversity in terms of immigration and refugee crises, this includes centuries of colonialism, resource exploitation, military actions, covert operations, political intervention, economic sanctions, and on and on. There are long, ugly legacies behind these racial, ethnic, and national divides. In many cases, ethnic immigrants come from countries that were former colonies and have borders that were artificially created by empires. First and foremost, there is the immeasurable diversity of justice and injustice, power and oppression. Diversity as racial order didn’t naturally develop but was violently enacted, a racial ideology shaping racial realities.

So what do these people think they are studying when they research diversity? And what are they actually studying? The confounding factors are so immense that it’s hard to wrap one’s mind around it. About people who study and discuss these kinds of topics, one gets the sense that many of them aren’t deep and careful thinkers. Things that seem obvious to me never occur to them. Or else these things do occur to them but for ideological reasons they can’t acknowledge them. I wonder what some people even think diversity means. As I’ve said before, I have more in common with a non-white Midwesterner than I have with a white Southerner. And I have more in common with a non-white American than a white European. Diversity of skin color doesn’t necessarily correlate to diversity of ethnicity, language, religion, etc. The average African-American shares the same basic culture as other Americans. A large part of African-Americans should technically be called European-Americans, both in terms of genetics and culture. As Thomas Sowell argues, African-Americans don’t have an African culture, rather a Southern culture. What makes African-Americans stand out in the North is that because of segregation they have more fully maintained their Southern culture. But that depends on where one lives. Here in Iowa City, most of the African-Americans are either immigrants of African ethnicties or individuals whose families have been in the region so long that they are assimilated to Midwestern culture, but African-Americans with Southern culture are rare around here.

If cultural diversity is what is deemed problematic, then that has nothing directly to do with skin color. But if we are talking about conflict based on skin color, that is simply an issue of racism. So, what exactly are we concerned about? Let’s get clear on that first. And then only after considering all the evidence, let’s begin the process of honest debate and informed analysis.

It’s Time to End the Myth That Black Voters Don’t Like Bernie Sanders

The saddest part of racism is how it is used by blacks in the comfortable classes to silence the voices of blacks in the lower classes. Allegations of racism thrown at Sanders didn’t just dismiss white Bernie Bros but throws the entire cross-racial support under the bus. And it tramples on one of Martin Luther King’s greatest dreams, to join blacks and whites in a common cause of class war against an oppressive capitalist class.

“Last spring, a Harvard-Harris poll found Sanders to be the most popular active politician in the country. African Americans gave the senator the highest favorables at 73 percent — vs. 68 percent among Latinos, 62 percent among Asian Americans and 52 percent among white voters. It wasn’t a fluke: This August, black voters again reported a 73 percent favorability rating for Sanders. Critics, such as Starr, continue to point to the senator’s 2016 primary numbers among older African American voters to claim that his message somehow doesn’t resonate with people of color as a whole — and continue to ignore that, according to GenForward, Sanders won the black millennial vote in the primaries.

“So why does the myth that black voters don’t like Sanders persist? It certainly isn’t because black voters can’t relate to his focus on the working class. According to the Economic Policy Institute, people of color will form the majority of the American working class by 2032. In other words, the white working class does not have a monopoly on economic marginalization.

“Folks in McDowell County, W.Va., and inner-city St. Louis are encountering many of the same challenges. So, an economic message that includes advancing policies that will close the wage gap, raise the minimum wage, ensure equal pay for equal work, create jobs, make education affordable, and ensure health care as a human right is a message that cuts across demographics.

“Thus Democrats should be careful not to continue the false association of working class issues strictly with the white working class — a major fixation after last year’s election and an assumption of many criticisms of Sanders’s message. As someone who traveled across the country with Sanders during his campaign, I know firsthand that the narrative of working-class politics as exclusively white erases the stories of so many of the people who believed in and fought for a political revolution — and a government that works for all of us, not just a wealthy or connected few.”

It’s Time to End the Myth That Black Voters Don’t Like Bernie Sanders
by Symone D. Sanders

Social Order and Strict Parenting

“I remembered when I was a child being in a bank and other places of business with my mother and experiencing the same phenomenon of watching the white kids play while my mother insisted that I stay near her. Watching the repeat of my experience, I wondered how the little black girl who stood in the bank line felt while she watched the white boy run and play in the bank. I suspect she felt a number of emotions: fear of the consequences she might receive from disobeying her mother; shame from the curious looks of her white peers; anger at not being able to move about freely.

“Without explicitly saying so, the black mother sent a message to her children and the message was, ‘little white children can safely run and play but you cannot because it is not okay or safe for you.’ These experiences teach black children that somehow this world does not belong to black boys and girls, but it does belong to the little white children.”

This is from a book I somewhat randomly was perusing. It is Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Joy DeGruy (Kindle Locations 580-599). I get the point the author is making, but I’d widen the significance to the social order. This isn’t just a race thing. Many poor white children have had similar experiences, even without the harsh legacy of slavery. My mother grew up working class and her parents grew up poor. Her family was very strict in their parenting and it was assumed children would not stray.

By the time my brothers and I were born, the family was joining the ranks of the middle class. After living in a factory town on the edge of Appalachia, we moved to a wealthy suburb of Chicago. My mother has told me how the children of the wealthier families were given great freedom and made the center of attention. That isn’t how my mother was raised and that wasn’t how she raised us. I can’t say that my brothers and I clung to my mother’s dress, but we knew we were to be obedient and not cause trouble. As children, we most definitely didn’t run around in places of business. We stood still or sat quietly. We weren’t raised as if we had the privilege to do whatever we wanted, not matter how much it bothered others. Instead, we were raised as lower class kids who should know their place in the world.

Consider a rich kid. When Donald Trump was a little boy, did anyone tell him what he couldn’t do? Probably not. If his mother was in a bank line, he could have ran screaming around the place, punched the bank guard in the balls, and no one would have done anything about it. That isn’t because Trump was a white boy but because he had the privilege of being born into immense wealth. Everyone in that bank would have known who the Trump family was or at the very least they would have known these were rich people who were used to doing whatever they pleased.

That explains the kind of person Trump grew up to be. Trump bragged that he could shoot someone in public and he would lose no support. That mindset comes from someone who has spent his life getting away with everything. It doesn’t even take immense wealth to create this kind of a spoiled man-child. I live in a town with plenty of well off professionals in the medical field, living the good life even if not filthy rich like the Trump family. Yes, most of them are white but more importantly they have money as part of an upper class identity. As a parking ramp cashier, I’ve experienced many people get upset. This has included a wide variety of people, including minorities. Yet of those who have exploded into full tantrums, I must admit that most of them are wealthier whites.

In dealing with such tantrums of privilege, does it help that I’m a white guy? Not that I can tell. Their sense of privilege is in no way checked because of our shared whiteness, as they are upper class and I am not. The only thing I have going for me is that I have the authority of the government behind me, as a public employee. I can threaten to call the police and make good on that threat, for the police will come. I’ve done that before on a number of occasions.

I remember dealing with an upper middle class white lady who simply wouldn’t cooperate in any kind of way, while a long line of cars piled up behind her. You’d think that she’d be better behaved because she had young kids in the car, but maybe that was all the more reason she felt a need to demonstrate her sense of entitlement in getting her way. Still, I wouldn’t budge and I eventually gave her an ultimatum, with my calling the police being one of the options. She went batshit crazy and it amused me to no end, although I remained outwardly professional. I’m sure she contacted my boss later and maybe even demanded I be fired. Fortunately, I’m a union member which offers some small amount of protection. If not for that protection, my whiteness wouldn’t have saved me.

Many upper class people don’t think the same rules apply to them that apply to everyone else. I’m sure that is even true of many upper class blacks. Does anyone honestly think that Obama or Oprah would accept being treated in the way poor whites are treated in this country? I doubt it. Just imagine if a wealthy black was having a tantrum in a parking ramp and a poor schmuck like me threatened to call the police on them. Do you think that they would act with submissive deference just because of some kind of supposed white privilege? I also doubt it. To return to the original example, I simply can’t imagine that the Obama daughters when they were children huddled in anxious obedience around their mother when they were at the bank.

None of this lessens the harsh reality of racism. Even so, there is an even longer history and entrenched legacy of class hierarchy. It’s easy forget that poor whites were the original oppressed race in European society, when race first developed as a scientific concept during late feudalism. Racialized slavery replaced feudalism, but it didn’t eliminate the ancient prejudices of a class-based society. No matter how racially biased is our society, that doesn’t change the fact that whites represent the majority of the poor, the majority of those abused by police, and the majority of those in prison.

As with blacks, whites aren’t a monolithic demographic with a singular experience. Most Americans, if given the choice, would take being a rich black over being a poor white. To put it more simply, most Americans would rather be rich than poor, whatever other details were involved. A large reason racial order has so much power is because it is overlaid upon and conflated with the class-based hierarchy, as blacks are disproportionately of the lower classes. That is an important detail, but the point is what makes being black so tough is that for so many it has meant being condemned to poverty for generations. Nonetheless, this is true for many whites as well, as a large part of the white population in the US has continuously been poor for longer than anyone can remember, going back to a time prior to slavery.

Strict parenting among the poor, black and white, is a central part of the maintaining the social order. There is a good reason why poor parents willingly participate in this system of control. After all, the consequences are very much real, if their children don’t learn to behave accordingly. There are many dangers in poverty, not just from the violence of poor communities but more importantly from the power of authority figures. This is why poor people, black and white, less often have tantrums in dealing with parking ramp cashiers for they have no desire to deal with the police nor any expectation that police would treat them leniently.

The Less Fortunate And More Frustrated

Someone commented that, “there’s just something about alt-right that is extremely draining. I’m not even sure if it’s my own personal reactions. It’s just such a negative, cynical, and above all hopeless lens to view things from. Friends say it’s not healthy to get immersed in it, but I wonder if it’s also unhealthy for the alt righters themselves, not just for outsiders.” I agree, but I’d put it in context.

It’s draining because it isn’t natural, far from the normal state of humanity. It’s not tribal hate. If alt-righters ever met actual tribal people, the two groups would not recognize or understand each other’s worldviews. Alt-right isn’t really about tribalism, any more than it really is about race or any other overt issue. What it is about is frustration, anger, and outrage.

That isn’t to deny the racism. It’s just to point out that we have a severely messed up society where racism is inseparable from other forms of oppression and social control that harm most Americans. Very few people are privileged enough to entirely escape the shit storm. Heck, even the wealthy are worse off in a society like ours, as has been shown in the research on economic inequality. This is not a healthy and happy society.

Part of me has a lot of sympathy for these lost souls. I understand what turns the mind in such dark directions. We live in a society that chews people up and spits them out. Nothing in our society is as advertised. Many people actually want to believe in the American Dream of upward mobility, of a growing middle class, of the good life, of each generation doing better than the last. People can only take all of the bullshit for so long. Alt-right gives them a voice, in a society that seeks to silence them.

Such things as alt-right are an indication of societal failure, not just individual failure. If we had increasing upward mobility instead of worsening downward mobility, if we had a growing instead of shrinking middle class, if we had no severe poverty and extreme inequality, if basic needs were taken care of and people had a sense of their own value in society, if people were supported in their aspirations and could live up to their potential, no one would ever turn to ideologies like the alt-right.

The average alt-righter isn’t a poor rural hick, hillbilly, or redneck. The alt-right tends to draw from the middle class, which mostly means the precarious lower middle class. Many people in the alt-right are those who want to be part of the liberal class, to live the liberal class dream, but something failed along the way.

There is a white guy I know. He is in academia and, though liberal in many ways, he became drawn to the alt-right. He wasn’t making much money and he felt stuck. He didn’t want to be living here and yet couldn’t find good job opportunities elsewhere. Even as he technically was in the liberal class, he was economically struggling and his life was not going according to plan. Worse still, there is little hope that the economy is going to improve any time soon for people like him.

That is type of person in the failed liberal class that the rest of the liberal class would prefer to ignore. What the liberal class doesn’t get is that their dream is desirable for many people even outside of the liberal class. But when it becomes unattainable for most of the population that leads to frustration. There are many poor whites who would love to go to college or send their kids to college, to have professional careers, to work toward a better life for themselves and their families, and to have all the good things that are available in liberal class communities such as nice parks, well-funded schools, etc.

If the liberal class is serious, they shouldn’t be supporting policies that make it harder for people to join the liberal class. New Democrats like Clinton support tough-on-crime policies, mass incarceration, privatized prisons, endless wars, growing military-industrial complex, corrupt corporatism, international trade deals that harm the lower classes, and all the other ways that screw over average and below average people. Why is it that the liberal class can’t understand that supporting neocon and neoliberal candidates is actually self-destructive to the liberal vision of society?

Liberals often like to pride themselves on not being racist or whatever. I call bullshit. If many of these liberals ever faced the threat of serious economic problems, downward mobility, and constant frustration of their dreams and aspirations, the majority of them easily could be swayed toward racism and other similar forms of bigotry. Research shows that such biases lurk just beneath the surface. What the liberal class lifestyle allows is for such people to not just be oblivious of what is going on in the world but also oblivious to what is hidden within their own minds.

After a period of societal stress and economic uncertainty, if an authoritarian came along promising progressive economics along with law-and-order rhetoric, most in the liberal class would support him. That is what the liberal class did in Germany when they supported Hitler. You are ignorant of history and human nature if you think it can’t happen here. As I put it in an earlier post:

“By the way, if your concern about Trump voters relates to right-wing authoritarianism, there is a key point to keep in mind. Groups like the Klan and the Nazis drew their strongest support from the middle class. That shouldn’t be surprising, as it is the middle class that is the most politically engaged. One would predict almost any political movement will attract many from the middle class. Also, it’s not so easy to pin this down ideologically. What you should really fear is when the liberal middle class (AKA liberal class) submits to the authoritarian trends in society, as happened in the past. Never forget that the Klan and the Nazis were rather progressive in many ways. Hitler rebuilt infrastructure and promoted policies that helped many ordinary Germans. The Klan supported child labor laws, public education, etc.”

I could add much to that, as I did in some comments to that post. Consider the Progressive Era. Many progressives supported eugenics, immigration control, and similar policies. The New Deal institutionalized racial biases that impacted the generations following.

Overt racist bigots and white supremacists would be a lot less powerful without the tolerant complicity and sometimes direct support of the liberal class. This can be broadened to the oppression that liberals so often allow and promote, such as their participation in anti-communist red-baiting and witch-hunts. Minorities (racial, ethnic, and religious) along with poor people and the political left have always been favorite targets of the liberal class, at least when they feel their privileged lifestyle is being challenged or there is a threat of social disruption. The liberal class, first and foremost, will always defend the status quo that makes possible their liberal good life… even when their defense betrays their stated liberal values.

The liberal class in a society like the US are among the fortunate few. Most of them don’t know what it is like to deal with tough times. They don’t know what is in their own hearts, what could emerge under much worse conditions. None of us ever knows what we are capable of until our back is against the wall, but many people are privileged enough to never find out. That is no reason for feeling self-righteous toward the less fortunate and more frustrated.