Using Tragedy for Racial Propaganda
After the horror in Buffalo, President Biden and others peddle an entirely false charge: that whites are the biggest source of hate crime and interracial violence in the U.S.
President Joe Biden has been lecturing white Americans about hate again. On May 15, the day after an 18-year-old white supremacist massacred ten black shoppers in a Buffalo supermarket, Biden called on Americans to “address the hate that remains a stain” on the country’s soul. Those stained by hate were not named by race, but the reference was clear.
Two days later, Biden gave a longer speech in Buffalo about the attack. In Biden’s telling, white Americans are at best indifferent to the racist slaughter of their fellow black citizens. “We need to say as clearly and forcefully as we can that the ideology of white supremacy has no place in America. None,” Biden insisted. Biden’s exhortations and moral clarity were the only forces impeding a slide back toward Jim Crow and the reign of the KKK: “I promise you. Hate will not prevail. And white supremacy will not have the last word. . . . We can’t allow . . . these hate-filled attacks . . . to destroy the soul of the nation.” We can’t allow this violence, the president intoned, to “be the story of our time.” To “confront the ideology of hate requires caring about all people”—something that whites, in their silent complicity with racist rampages, apparently fail to do.
Last week’s remonstrances were not new. In an August 2019 press briefing, then-presidential candidate Biden claimed that racism was a “white man’s problem visited on people of color.” “White folks are the reason we have institutional racism,” he said. On November 6, 2019, the day before the press declared Biden the president-elect, he claimed a “mandate” to eliminate “systemic racism.”
Biden carried over the conceit into his presidential victory speech—the same speech hailed across the political spectrum as “unifying.” Among the “great battles of our time” was the still-unaccomplished goal of “root[ing] out systemic racism in this country.” Millions of Americans represent what Biden called “our darkest impulses.”
The Buffalo rampage is indeed a horrifying reminder of this nation’s white supremacist past, a past that took far too long to move beyond. Because of that history, white acts of terror have an elevated significance over other racist assaults. It is appropriate to be vigilant against any revival of such racial cruelty. Blacks’ anger is understandable—as is their feeling, following any such assault, that they remain under racial siege.
But what is not justified, especially from the nation’s political leaders, is racial propaganda. Biden’s recurring suggestions that white hate crimes are America’s dominant reality are false. Whites are not the biggest source of hate crime and interracial violence in the U.S.; blacks are. From 2016 to 2020, blacks nationally were twice as likely to commit a hate crime as whites, according to FBI data, among hate-crime suspects whose race and ethnicity were known.
Local data tell the same story. In New York City, from 2010 to 2020, blacks were 2.42 times as likely as whites to commit a hate crime, among hate-crime suspects whose race and ethnicity were known. Blacks in Los Angeles committed anti-Asian hate crimes at 4.8 times the rate of whites in 2021, according to internal LAPD data. Blacks in L.A. committed anti-gay hate crimes at seven times the rate of whites, and anti-Semitic hate crimes at 2.4 times the rate of whites, among hate-crime suspects whose race and ethnicity were known. Blacks committed anti-trans hate crimes at 2.5 times the rate of Hispanics; there were no white suspects in anti-trans hate crimes in L.A. in 2021.
Biden, the mainstream media, and Democratic politicians claim that demographic angst is driving whites to paroxysms of violence. As Biden himself said in 2015, an “unrelenting stream of immigration, nonstop,” was eliminating the white majority population share. If whites were lashing out against this immigration-fueled shift in U.S. culture, you would think Los Angeles would experience a particularly disproportionate level of white-committed hate crimes, since whites are only 28 percent of the L.A. population, and Hispanics 49 percent. But that is not the case. Blacks committed anti-Hispanic hate crimes in Los Angeles at 13.5 times the rate of whites in 2021.
The media and race activists seize on absolute numbers of hate-crime victims to argue that blacks are the target of disproportionate violence from whites. This is statistical sleight of hand, based on disparate population shares. Take a hypothetical population of 80 whites and 20 blacks, for example, where, for the sake of illustration, blacks commit hate crimes against whites at a 100 percent rate and whites commit hate crimes against blacks at one-quarter that rate. Blacks would commit 20 anti-white hate crimes and whites would commit 20 anti-black hate crimes. Every black would be victimized by a hate crime because of the smaller black population, not because of disproportionate white offending.
In the U.S., blacks commit the vast share of the interracial violence between blacks and whites that is not classified as a hate crime: 88 percent. Some portion of the gratuitously brutal beatings and carjackings that have become even more of a routine occurrence in the aftermath of the 2020 George Floyd race riots undoubtedly have racial animus behind them. The authorities treat black-on-white crime as unremarkable, however, and rarely look into motive. Authorities almost always scrutinize white-on-black crime, rare as it is, for a hate enhancement, precisely because it is so rare.
Maintaining the fiction of white hate-crime dominance takes work. Video evidence relentlessly shows that blacks are the predominant torturers of frail elderly Asians. Media still present the March 2021 Atlanta spa shooting as an anti-Asian hate crime, though religious torment and sexual guilt motivated it. In Dallas, Asian businesses experienced a wave of drive-by shootings starting in April 2022 and stretching into May, with bullets being fired into Asian-owned establishments from a passing car. On May 11, a man entered an Asian-run hair salon in Dallas and fired off at least 13 rounds, hitting three people, one in the lower back. The victims survived this attempted mass murder only because of the shooter’s poor aim. Police believe the assailant is connected to the previous drive-bys. Had he been white, his shooting spree would have been an international story. Because he was black, it was barely covered outside of Dallas. There has been no handwringing about black hate.
Teenage bullying is racially lopsided. On November 22 of last year, four white female Catholic school students were riding a city bus home in the Bronx. Two black male teenagers started taunting them and were joined by three black girls who beat the white girls up. Riders of mass transit in cities across the country know the dynamic and keep their heads down. Had the races on the Bronx bus been reversed, the incident would have been a national scandal—think the Covington Catholic hate-speech hoax.
The problem facing blacks today is not whites; it is black criminals. In his May 17 speech from Buffalo, Biden scolded his white listeners for their apparent apathy: “We have to refuse to live in a country where Black people going about a weekly grocery shopping can be gunned down by weapons of war deployed in a racist cause.” Biden may not have noticed, but sorrow and outrage over the attack were universal. Furthermore, awful as the Buffalo massacre was, it was almost sui generis. White-supremacist shootings like the Buffalo massacre are so rare that they do not show up statistically in the tidal wave of black homicide victims between the ages of ten and 34. Blacks going about their quotidian chores in inner-city areas do have reason to fear, but the threat is not from white supremacists. It is from other blacks.
On Thursday, May 19, a group of Baltimore city council members denounced a level of violence in the city that it called “beyond comprehension.” On Tuesday, May 10, a gunman had opened fire with an assault rifle at midday, spraying more than 60 bullets onto the street. He killed a 25-year-old male and injured three other people. There was another mass shooting hours later. Two days later, a pregnant woman and her fiancé were shot and killed in a car outside their home. The seven-month-old fetus, delivered prematurely, is fighting to survive.
The next day, Friday, saw two other homicides: an 18-year-old killed in East Baltimore and a man found dead inside a vacant house in the Carrollton Ridge neighborhood. Three other males were injured in separate shootings that Friday across the city, including a young man shot in the chest and seriously injured in South Baltimore.
A 51-year-old resident of Baltimore told the Baltimore Sun this month after another mass shooting: “It’s like a norm now.” Residents tear police tape down and “carry on like nothing happened,” he said. The man, a former gangbanger, said he has been afraid to leave his house at night, but now that fear extends to broad daylight.
The day of the Buffalo massacre, Saturday, May 14, a nine-year-old boy was fatally shot in an apartment building in Skokie, Illinois; a six-year-old was wounded in the same shooting.
The Wednesday before, May 11, in the West Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, a drive-by shooting from one car to another struck a six-year-old boy, an 11-year-old boy, a 21-year-old woman, and a 24-year-old man.
On Tuesday, May 10, in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood, assailants emerged from a stolen Mazda and started spraying gunfire. They killed a 19-year-old with a bullet to the head and injured four other teenagers. The shooters took off, crashed the Mazda, and fled on foot. Investigators recovered three guns from the car and at the scene. Members of a crowd assaulted police officers who tried to administer first aid to the victims. Gunfire broke out in the same area a few hours later.
On Friday, May 13, at least 17 people were shot in a mass shooting in downtown Milwaukee after an NBA playoff game. Police recovered ten guns at the scene. Two hours before that shooting, three people were shot in another downtown nightlife area, following a fight among a group of females. An hour and a half later, another shooting occurred on the same block as the NBA playoff game shooting, wounding one person.
On Thursday, May 19, two people were killed and seven others wounded in downtown Chicago, blocks from the Magnificent Mile, in a fight between the usual hordes of violent teens who colonize downtown in the summer months. The police chased the shooter and several accomplices into a nearby subway station; a female accomplice was burned on the subway’s third rail. Bystanders yelled at responding officers. The next morning, subway commuters walked through puddles of blood outside the McDonald’s where the shooting happened, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
At least a hundred rounds were fired in a gunbattle at a state fair in Jackson, Mississippi, on April 30. Only poor marksmanship prevented a large loss of life.
On Friday, May 20, one person was killed and eight wounded in gunfire outside THA Blue Flame hookah lounge in Highland, California (in San Bernardino County), the latest outburst of the mayhem that trails large gatherings of black teenagers, whether at spring break in Miami or at New York’s West Indian Day Parade, on party buses or in AirBnB party rentals. That same Friday, May 20, another shooting took place at Chicago’s Millennium Park, following a fatal shooting at that same location on Saturday, May 14. From Friday night, May 20, though Saturday, 21 people would be shot and one killed in Chicago.
The typical mass shooter in America is not a white supremacist. He is black and either retaliating for a previous shooting or impulsively reacting to a current dispute. In 2020, more than two dozen blacks were killed every day—more than all white and Hispanic homicide victims combined—even though blacks are only 13 percent of the population. The country turns its eyes away. As the former Baltimore gang member said of his community: “It’s like a norm now.” The black homicide toll will be higher in 2021 and 2022.
Fervent government pronouncements about soaring white supremacy are notable for their absence of data, as The Federalist has pointed out. The press invokes the Christchurch shooting in New Zealand, the 2019 shootings in El Paso and at a San Diego synagogue, and the 2016 gay nightclub attack in Orlando, Florida. All were repugnant crimes resulting in tragic losses of life. But they are not, thankfully, an epidemic. The Waukesha Christmas parade massacre, the Brooklyn subway shooting, the 2016 cop assassinations in Dallas and Baton Rouge, among other shootings, are out of sight, out of mind.
The Democratic, media, and academic establishments are nevertheless going to exploit the Buffalo atrocity. The recently proposed government disinformation office may be on ice for now, but the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022 could be an even more powerful tool for suppressing opposing viewpoints by falsely characterizing them as white supremacy. Though there is no shortage of government officials already investigating domestic terrorism, the bill would create three new offices in the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, and the FBI tasked with assessing white supremacist and neo-Nazi threats in the U.S. and inside public agencies.
A Democratic congresswoman laid out the chain of reasoning these bodies will likely use to characterize “white supremacist” terror groups: “America has a racism problem. America has a hate problem, and America has a domestic terrorism problem,” said Texas representative Veronica Escobar. Expect the government to use the college campus definitions of “racism” and “hate”: any political position with which the Left disagrees. If you don’t think that children should have their innocence stripped from them by premature knowledge of sexuality, you are filled with hate. If you think that a country has a right to determine who crosses its border, you are filled with hate. If you think that college admissions and faculty hiring should be based on academic merit, you are filled with hate. If you think parents should have a role in deciding whether their children are castrated, you are filled with hate.
The media and Democratic politicians are tying the Buffalo atrocity to discourse opposed to mass illegal immigration from Third World countries. Glenn Greenwald has laid out the definitive rebuttal of efforts to blame ideas and the people who hold those ideas for violence committed by homicidal madmen who may also share some of those ideas. As a legal matter, Greenwald’s free-speech absolutism is unequivocally correct. Yet his robust assertion of the bright-line distinction between speech and action fails to capture our intuition about the power of language and ideas. To be sure, our inclination to connect repugnant acts to speech is in direct proportion to the degree to which we find that speech repugnant. While the Left blames Great Replacement theory for the Buffalo massacre, others may see demonization of the police since 2015 as responsible for increased cop killings, which rose by 59 percent in 2021.
Figures from President Biden on down are telling blacks, nonstop, that they are under lethal threat from whites, and that it is white supremacists, not black criminals, who pose the greatest threat to their safety. “Buffalo attack ignites safety worries for Black Angelenos,” reads a headline in the May 22 Los Angeles Times. New York representative Jerrold Nadler, a sponsor of the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, says, “Democrats are taking the fight straight to the . . . violent extremists that are terrorizing minority institutions.” A Washington Post-Ipsos poll found that 75 percent of black Americans were very or somewhat worried that they or someone they love will be attacked because of their race. A respondent interviewed by the Post says that he is “apprehensive at stoplights, imagining a White man getting out and shooting him in his car.”
The false claim that we are living through an epidemic of racist shootings of black men by police officers arguably led to the crime waves of 2015 and 2016, and to the more dire anarchy since 2020. With the two-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death upon us, it’s not hard to imagine that the equally false claim that we are living through an epidemic of white-supremacist shootings of blacks could escalate America’s violence.
Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images
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