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Racist Ezra Klein Counts Blacks As American. Hey, Wait . . .

When an article with the headline “The Implicit Racism of Ezra Klein” crossed my Twitter stream, I was naturally drawn to click through. I’ve been reading Ezra going on a decade now and, while I have some objections to his work from time to time, racism, implicit or otherwise, has never been evident to me.

What’s the evidence?

Klein baldly tells us that America is an unusually violent country, and that the South is its most violent region. But he doesn’t tell you why. He doesn’t tell you that among cases where the race was known, blacks committed 5,486 murders in 2011, while whites committed only 4,729. So when Klein says that America is an unusually violent country, he’s really saying that blacks are an unusually violent race.

Similarly, if you look at the prevalence of murderers vs. black population on a state-by-state basis, you find a strong correlation between the two.

So when Klein says that “The South is the most violent region in the United States,” he’s really saying that “Blacks are the most violent race in the United States.” Sounds racist when you put it that way, doesn’t it?

So . . . Klein is being racist, at least implicitly, by ignoring race and lumping blacks in with regular Americans? Why, if I didn’t know better, I’d say that notion is—how do I put this?—racist.

Now, as it turns out, the author, a geoff, is taking a page out of the Rush Limbaugh handbook and attempting to illustrate absurdity by being absurd.

Of course, that’s not a fair characterization – not at all. There’s certainly a big problem, but making a statement like “Blacks are the most violent race” is not justified or productive.

And that’s exactly the sort of statement that Klein made about the South and the United States. By slapping some lame statistics on the web with no context or data-mining, he’s smeared them with a sloppy and unfair characterization.

And when you conduct your research like that, it’s easy to be a racist.

Since I’m not sure what they hell he’s trying to get across here, for all I know that’s a very trenchant point. But I’m a mite skeptical.

Geoff doesn’t actually explain what’s wrong with the notion that Americans, and particularly Southerners, have an unusually high propensity for violent crime. This is as close as we get:

[Y]ou’re undoubtedly wondering why he picked deaths to indicate violence, rather than number of assaults. You may also be wondering why he picked victims instead of offenders. Finally you may wonder, after reading through his posts, why he found it difficult to break out deaths due to firearms from all assault deaths, when the data is readily available via the FBI.

Now, I’m open to an argument for measuring violence in a way other than counting fatalities from violent crime. But it’s not intrinsically obvious to me why that’s a bad measure. To the extent violent crime is a bad thing, surely the “people often wind up dead” thing plays some part in that. Personally, I’m more opposed to the sort of violence in which people wind up dead than the sort where they just walk away with their feelings hurt. And, by the same token, victims count for something. The fact that 20 little kids were murdered at Sandy Hook is a more meaningful statistic than the fact that there was only one shooter.

And I’m not sure why you’d single out gun deaths from non-gun deaths if you’re measuring violent deaths. If you’re arguing that guns are the problem to be solved, sure.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. geoff says:

    Since you’re having a little difficult following the arguments, I’ll repeat what I said in the comments at teh post:

    …I’m making three points here:

    1) Klein is basically acting as a bigot towards America and the South, which are really surrogates for his real target: gun culture. His bigotry is absolutely parallel to racism.

    2) Klein has walked into a trap of his own making by using these facts, since even a cursory look at the data shows that he’s really criticizing blacks, and he’s doing it in very harsh terms. That’s racist.

    3) Klein is attempting to assemble essential facts for the gun control debate, but his research is crap.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 42

  2. James Joyner says:

    @geoff:

    1. But it’s indisputable that America has a very high murder rate and that the South contributes disproportionately to that. I’m an American and a Southerner; I can also count.

    2. Uh, no, you’re singling out blacks. Klein just counts crimes committed by blacks like crimes committed by people of other races and lumps them all together as if we’re all equal citizens of the same country. Crazy, I know, but it’s often done in international comparative studies.

    3. I’m open to persuasion on this point. Persuade me.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 0

  3. geoff says:

    Personally, I’m more opposed to the sort of violence in which people wind up dead than the sort where they just walk away with their feelings hurt.

    Aren’t we all. But we’re addressing “violence” and not “hurt feelings.”

    And, by the same token, victims count for something. The fact that 20 little kids were murdered at Sandy Hook is a more meaningful statistic than the fact that there was only one shooter.

    Not if you’re trying to characterize the violent nature of a populace, as Klein and Healy are. That violent nature is properly measured by counting violent offenders, not their victims.

    And I’m not sure why you’d single out gun deaths from non-gun deaths if you’re measuring violent deaths. If you’re arguing that guns are the problem to be solved, sure.

    I’m addressing a complaint that Healy made in his posts – he wanted to single out gun-related deaths, but was unable to due to . . .?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 16

  4. Brummagem Joe says:

    @geoff:

    Since you’re having a little difficult following the arguments, I’ll repeat what I said in the comments at teh post:

    Er…..what’s the relevance of color here that YOU introduced into the conversation? Aren’t these black southerners Americans? Are they Martians or Italians because if they are we’d better send them back to their own planet or Italy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  5. mattb says:

    @geoff:
    It’s still an exceptionally stupid line of argument, especially when you spend a moment with it, given that your two numbers:

    blacks committed 5,486 murders in 2011, while whites committed only 4,729.

    That’s a net difference of 757 murders. In percentage terms, we’re talking about blacks making up 53% of murders versus 47% of murders committed by whites. So beginning your essay with “he’s really saying that blacks are an unusually violent race” [emphasis mine] tells us a lot more about you than it does about Klein.

    Further the chart that you use to make your point (which you don’t link to a source file on) shows most clustering at the 20%-30% range with three major outliers. I’m interested as to where those three major outlier states exist?

    I’d also be interested if you could account for the reason why the south still lead the nation in gun related murders by a far wider standard of deviation than the difference between white and black murders on a national level?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  6. Brummagem Joe says:

    @geoff:

    This is baloney. You’re trying to create a separate class of Americans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  7. MM says:

    Geoff has defined bigotry down to the point where nobody can point out anything about anybody. Once upon a time, that was called political correctness run amok. Of course it’s different when Republicans do it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

  8. C. Clavin says:

    Shorter Geoff:

    “…I’m not a racist, but…”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  9. geoff says:

    But it’s indisputable that America has a very high murder rate and that the South contributes disproportionately to that.

    This is a semantic difference that I make that others may not. Saying “America has a very high murder rate” is undeniably true. Saying “America is an unusually violent country” has quite a different tone, in that the implication is that it is a violent country because it is America. Similarly, one can fairly say “Blacks have a very high murder rate,” but saying “Blacks are an unusually murderous race,” would be rightfully considered racist. To me, the former statement suggests a course of study, the latter expresses a conclusion.

    When Klein says we should base our gun control debate on America’s violence, and the South’s violence in particular, he’s presuming that those two facts demonstrate that gun culture is at the heart of the problem, i.e., America has been poisoned by gun-totin’ rednecks from the South. To my mind, that’s transparent bigotry.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 13

  10. geoff says:

    That’s a net difference of 757 murders. In percentage terms, we’re talking about blacks making up 53% of murders versus 47% of murders committed by whites.

    You might trouble yourself to look up the respective compositions of the American population. Never mind, I’ll do it for you: Blacks comprise 12.6% of the population, while whites (including Latinos, as the FBI stats do) comprise 72.4%. When one sub-population has a murder rate that is 7X another’s, it is strong indication that lumping the statistics together will lead you to poor conclusions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 13

  11. mattb says:

    @geoff:

    Similarly, one can fairly say “Blacks have a very high murder rate,” but saying “Blacks are an unusually murderous race,” would be rightfully considered racist. To me, the former statement suggests a course of study, the latter expresses a conclusion.

    Part of the issue is clear with the use of “unusually” and the passage from Klein you take offense with:
    “Klien [paraphrasing Healy]: The South is the most violent region in the United States.”

    Looking at Klein’s data, it’s clear that the South is a significant outlier, far more significant than the 6% points that separate data between the two races.

    Beyond that, most of your questions about Healy’s data and methods could have been answered by reading Healy’s writings on the data at his site and in it’s thread at crooked timber.

    For example, as to why assault death rates vs gun death’s Healy responds:

    2. Why Assault Death Rates and not just Gun-Use Deaths?
    The problem across the board here is getting consistent, reliable, cross-national data. The goal of the original post was to set the U.S. in some kind of longitudinal context with broadly comparable countries—in brief, the advanced industrial democracies—and the OECD is the best source for time-series data of this kind. But there is no good long-run cross-national data on deaths due to gun-use alone. Death as a result of violent assault is the best available series. There are some single-year cross-country datasets, and there are some smaller country-to-country comparisons, too. As a reminder, my original posts did not make any claims at all about guns, gun violence, or gun laws. I was interested in comparing rates of violent death across developed democracies, and that’s exactly what I did.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  12. Brummagem Joe says:

    @geoff:

    This is a semantic difference

    You’re still dodging the question. YOU not Klein have attempted to claim Black Americans are somehow different and not really Americans therefore should be excluded from comparative stats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  13. Brummagem Joe says:

    @geoff:

    You might trouble yourself to look up the respective compositions of the American population. Never mind, I’ll do it for you: Blacks comprise 12.6% of the population,

    You might want to take your own advice. While blacks represent about 12% of the population nationally they are a much higher share of the population in the south.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  14. James Joyner says:

    @geoff:

    This is a semantic difference that I make that others may not. Saying “America has a very high murder rate” is undeniably true. Saying “America is an unusually violent country” has quite a different tone, in that the implication is that it is a violent country because it is America.

    No, it isn’t. There’s no implied causation; it’s a statement of fact.

    Similarly, one can fairly say “Blacks have a very high murder rate,” but saying “Blacks are an unusually murderous race,” would be rightfully considered racist. To me, the former statement suggests a course of study, the latter expresses a conclusion.

    But that’s not an equivalent statement. “America” is a self-contained entity, so a statement about its murder rate and its tendency toward violence is interchangeable. The black race, such as it exists as a definable entity, is a global phenomenon. So, one can’t make judgments about said race based on US crime statistics.

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  15. Brummagem Joe says:

    @geoff:

    There I’ve done it for you. 57% of blacks live in the south with the remainder scattered across the NE, midwest, rocky mountain and west coast states.

    http://2010.census.gov/news/releases/operations/cb11-cn185.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  16. mattb says:

    @geoff:

    Similarly, one can fairly say “Blacks have a very high murder rate,” but saying “Blacks are an unusually murderous race,” would be rightfully considered racist. To me, the former statement suggests a course of study, the latter expresses a conclusion.

    Given that the statement you are taking offense to was phrased ““Klien [paraphrasing Healy]: The South is the most violent region in the United States”, I’m having a hard time seeing how that can’t be taken to both state fact and contain a course of study.

    You are, btw, entirely correct, about the issue of % of population. Your argument would have been far stronger if you had managed to include that part of it in the text of your essay.

    That said, in both establishing why there is such a high rate of violence in the South and anong Blacks, the real thing a scholar should do is use those discoveries to explore the cultural pressures.

    And at a minimum, they should avoid making an essentialist argument (i.e. that by living in the south you are some how inherently more violent). It seems to me you’re objecting to an essentialist argument that I don’t see anywhere within Klein or Healy’s work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. geoff says:

    Crazy, I know, but it’s often done in international comparative studies.

    In poorly conducted international studies. Drawing valid conclusions from statistics analysis requires understanding and treatment of the inhomogeneities in the data. Klein decided that the most important inhomogeneity to break out was regional, since that fit his anti-gun bias. It turns out that the regional statistical differences are largely driven by racial composition, which should mortify him.

    Of course that sort of observation just shows where a problem is, not what the problem is. We’re all familiar with the list of root causes that have led to this unusually high murder rate among blacks – the only argument is the relative importance and what to do about them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  18. mattb says:

    @geoff:
    Thanks for stopping by and engaging in the dialog BTW.

    When Klein says we should base our gun control debate on America’s violence, and the South’s violence in particular, he’s presuming that those two facts demonstrate that gun culture is at the heart of the problem, i.e., America has been poisoned by gun-totin’ rednecks from the South. To my mind, that’s transparent bigotry.

    Ahh… I’ve hit the crux of the issue… you’re reading something into Klein that he doesn’t state in the essay — that we should base our gun control debate on “the South’s violence in particular.” All he did is present a series of facts that can help shape the gun debate.

    At best the attention to violence in the South (or more accurately the entire Southern United States via the later point on Gun Legislation and mapping of gun violence) is an example of what you refer to as a fact that should used to lead to further examination. But it isn’t an essentialist argument.

    You are entirely right that this could also have been done by race. But I still don’t see how the decision (either implicit or explicit) to not choose demographic information is a fundamentally “racist” choice (unless of course you read everything as an essentialist).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  19. Brummagem Joe says:

    @geoff:

    In poorly conducted international studies. Drawing valid conclusions from statistics analysis requires understanding and treatment of the inhomogeneities in the data.

    How the hell would you know when you make totally false claims about the ethnic makeup of the south either as the consequence of ignorance or dishonesty.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  20. geoff says:

    You might want to take your own advice. While blacks represent about 12% of the population nationally they are a much higher share of the population in the south.

    That’s exactly the point of the last graph in the post. Congratulations, you’ve made my point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  21. legion says:

    [Y]ou’re undoubtedly wondering why he picked deaths to indicate violence, rather than number of assaults. You may also be wondering why he picked victims instead of offenders. Finally you may wonder, after reading through his posts, why he found it difficult to break out deaths due to firearms from all assault deaths, when the data is readily available via the FBI.

    In other words, Geoff is annoyed that Ezra wrote the article he wrote, rather than the one Geoff wanted to read…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  22. geoff says:

    How the hell would you know when you make totally false claims about the ethnic makeup of the south either as the consequence of ignorance or dishonesty.

    When did I do that? As noted above, I had already plotted ethnic makeup on a state-by-state basis in the original post. Which you apparently never read.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  23. Brummagem Joe says:

    @geoff:

    When did I do that?

    The subject under discussion and the one for which you were excoriating Klein was gun deaths in the south or had you forgotten? And this wasn’t you then?

    You might trouble yourself to look up the respective compositions of the American population. Never mind, I’ll do it for you: Blacks comprise 12.6% of the population, while whites (including Latinos, as the FBI stats do) comprise 72.4%.

    These numbers do not apply to the south. If can’t interpret the most simple data like this you have absolutely no competence to pronounce on the quality of international studies. I’m not sure whether it was ignorance or dishonesty but it was surely one of the two.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  24. geoff says:

    you’re reading something into Klein that he doesn’t state in the essay

    He doesn’t come out and say it explicitly, but look at the syllogism he constructs when you combine Facts 5 & 6 with Facts 8 & 9.

    5. America is an unusually violent country. But we’re not as violent as we used to be.

    6. The South is the most violent region in the United States.

    8. More guns tend to mean more homicide.

    9. States with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun-related violence.

    So you can see the logic chain he is trying to build: More guns and weaker controls means more deaths, as exemplified by the South in comparison to other regions, and America in comparison to other countries.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

  25. grumpy realist says:

    Sorry, Geoff. Before you can make such a flat statement as “blacks are as a race more violent than whites” you had better tease out a) the effect of culture (i.e., South vs. non-South.), b) economic class.

    Given that more African-Americans live in the South than outside the South, why shouldn’t the difference in murder rates be a reflection of Southern culture? Hot-headed, worried about “honor”, far too willing to whip out a gun and escalate a dispute via the gun rather than walk away from a confrontation?

    (Of course, all of the above is even more accurate of testosterone-filled young men among all races. Welcome to gang warfare.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  26. geoff says:

    These numbers do not apply to the south.

    Neither does the murder rate. But you seem quite happy to combine the lower national murder rate with a higher regional ethnicity to drop the murder rate among blacks. As I said, I’ve already plotted the data by state. It’s in the original post. Look at the graph and then tell me where I’ve mistreated the data. I’ve compared national data to national data, and state data to state data. In every case. Unlike yourself, who has serially abused the data.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  27. mattb says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    These numbers do not apply to the south. If can’t interpret the most simple data like this you have absolutely no competence to pronounce on the quality of international studies. I’m not sure whether it was ignorance or dishonesty but it was surely one of the two.

    The issue is that without a racial breakout of crime in southern states, you are proving Geoff’s implicit point. Basically he’s saying the south has a higher murder rate because more black people live there. Your citing that 57% of the nation’s black population lives in the South only goes to strengthen that argument.

    What we need, and I’m looking for at the moment, is a state-by-state demographic breakdown of the data to see what is says…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  28. geoff says:

    Sorry, Geoff. Before you can make such a flat statement as “blacks are as a race more violent than whites” you had better tease out a) the effect of culture (i.e., South vs. non-South.), b) economic class.

    I guess this discussion has now jumped the shark. It’s a shame, because there were a couple of good comments.

    Look, GR, as I’ve said repeatedly, I absolutely agree with you. That’s kind of the point – why is it OK to make flat blanket statements about the South and America without teasing out the root causes, but racist to make the equivalent statements about race? My argument is that it is bigotry in both cases.

    Thanks for the discussion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  29. mattb says:

    @geoff:
    I see that logic chain, but I’m having a hard time seeing how your counter logic chain reads particularly better or more accurate on the situation.

    Further, it seems like your biggest argument is not so much the logic chain Klein built, but rather the logic chains you accuse him of not building, out of what… fear of being perceived as a racist?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  30. geoff says:

    Forgot to answer a couple of concrete questions before I took off:

    For example, as to why assault death rates vs gun death’s Healy responds:

    That’s true – but for his regional comparison he could have, and should have, gone with the more relevant FBI data.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  31. geoff says:

    Further the chart that you use to make your point (which you don’t link to a source file on) shows most clustering at the 20%-30% range with three major outliers. I’m interested as to where those three major outlier states exist?

    The farthest right outlier is DC. The second farthest is Louisiana. The next one, which fits the overall trend, so I wouldn’t call it an outlier, is MIssissippi. Murder data came from 2011 FBI data (though it had a couple of holes I had to fill by going to state files), demographic data came from the Census bureau.

    I don’t believe that your clustering comment reflects the nature of the data. The majority of the states lie below 20% – Idaho and Maine are down around 1%. Only 7 states lie in the 20 – 30% range.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  32. geoff says:

    I see that logic chain, but I’m having a hard time seeing how your counter logic chain reads particularly better or more accurate on the situation.

    Fair enough.

    the logic chains you accuse him of not building, out of what… fear of being perceived as a racist?

    No, out of satisfaction at having arrived at the answer he wanted.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  33. mattb says:

    @geoff:
    Thanks for explaining the graph, any chance you did it in Google Docs? It always helps me to read the spreadsheet.

    We’ll have to disagree on the satisfaction point. It seems to me that any short article of that nature would fall prey to exactly the issue you seem to be going after here.

    [Healy's] regional comparison he could have, and should have, gone with the more relevant FBI data

    If this was his primary area of research that might have made sense. He was attempting to control things on one level and presented his findings. I think it says a lot that he doesn’t do media on those charts because it’s a side interest.

    At best, you could make an argument that Klein shouldn’t have used Healy’s data. But it seems to me for what Healy was doing the choice — as he rationalized it — made sense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. geoff says:

    No, it isn’t. There’s no implied causation; it’s a statement of fact.

    As I said, I make a distinction others may not. Saying “America is unusually violent” sounds judgmental to me, while “America has a high murder rate” sounds like a fact.

    So, one can’t make judgments about said race based on US crime statistics.

    Of course not, but that’s irrelevant. But if you expressed yourself in that way, it would be considered racist, and you would rightly be reviled by civilized and enlightened men. And that’s exactly the way that Klein treats the South.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  35. Septimius says:

    I don’t think Klein is a bigot or a racist. What he is guilty of is trying to sneak one past the goalie, and Geoff called him on it. Pointing out that the south is the most violent region of the country without giving any explanation as to why was incredibly lame. The fact is that there is a much stronger correlation between race and murder than there is with region and murder. Does the south have a “gun culture?” Of course. But, so do Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, Vermont, and Maine–states with little gun control, few murders, and a very low percentage of black residents.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  36. geoff says:

    Thanks for explaining the graph, any chance you did it in Google Docs?

    Excel, I’m afraid.

    At best, you could make an argument that Klein shouldn’t have used Healy’s data. But it seems to me for what Healy was doing the choice — as he rationalized it — made sense.

    It didn’t even make sense for Healy to use it. You can’t say that using the wrong data is justified just because that’s all you had. Does number of assault deaths correlate with incidence of violence? Probably only very roughly. But he’s happy to cite it as a reason for gun control, which is his real motivation. From the intro to his first post:

    The terrible events in Colorado this morning prompted me to update an old post about comparative death rates from assault across different societies. The following figures are from the OECD for deaths due to assault per 100,000 population from 1960 to the present. As before, the most striking features of the data are (1) how much more violent the U.S. is than other OECD countries (except possibly Estonia and Mexico, not shown here), and (2) the degree of change—and recently, decline—there has been in the U.S. time series considered by itself. Note that “assault” as a cause of death does not distinguish the mechanism of death (gunshot, stabbing, etc). If anyone knows of a similar time series for gun-related deaths only, let me know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  37. Tsar Nicholas says:

    There really are several of layers of irony embodied in this OTB blog post. Only within the cocoons of the academe and the Internet could someone miss the obvious ironic point of the underlying post to which it makes reference.

    This actually reminds me of when I was a blogger. I would say things like: “That’s nearly as ‘shocking’ as poor student test scores in big liberal cities controlled for decades by liberal Democrats.” And liberals who read that site would miss the point. Seriously. I’m not joking.

    Then just for the hell of it I would get into “debates” with this law professor type who stalked my posts. Apparently he was all verklempt about how my posts would make him feel ignorant about the law, given that I was writing from the standpoint of a seasoned practicing attorney, whereas he merely was a full-time academic. So I would respond to petty jabs of his intentionally incoherently, but while referencing complex legal items about which he had no f’n clue. I’d say things like: “Maybe there’s no Constitutional right to carry a concealed gun, but try structuring a reverse triangular merger or a reverse build to suit funded by a 1031 exchange.” And he’d miss the point. Sigh.

    Sure enough a blogger using rather-obvious irony to demonstrate how ignorant Klein is about the facts of life — and the subtle racism of effete liberals that lurks just beneath the surface — is lost upon a OTB blog author. Go figure.

    The Internet truly is a weird place.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

  38. mattb says:

    @geoff,

    General question — as I didn’t see this in the FBI statistics, but I didn’t necessarily go deep enough — do they do a breakout by state, by race in them? Or is that buried in a raw dump of the data?

    If not, do you (or anyone) know of a source with that breakout?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Neil Hudelson says:

    I’m just going to go ahead and assume everything Tsar wrote in that post was fiction.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  40. Jeremy R says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    There really are several of layers of irony embodied in this OTB blog post. Only within the cocoons of the academe and the Internet could someone miss the obvious ironic point of the underlying post to which it makes reference.

    Geoff’s post is basically an inadvertent Rorschach Test for how much exposure one has had to Right-Wing white resentment politics. His argument only makes sense if you assume certain american’s, for some reason, don’t actually count as real southerners, even though they live in the south, but anyway it’s somehow unfair to include them in southern crime statistics when making arguments that reflect on the South.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  41. MM says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: This actually reminds me of when I was a blogger.

    Run out of famous people and influential pundits to pretend you’ve never heard of?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  42. geoff says:

    do they do a breakout by state, by race in them? Or is that buried in a raw dump of the data?

    You can find the murders by state in several tables at the FBI, but this is the most convenient format.

    I never found an FBI table with a breakout by state & race, which is why I plotted the info the way I did. I believe the individual states do have that data, but that was too much of a PITA for a blog post.

    <emHis argument only makes sense if you assume certain american’s, for some reason, don’t actually count as real southerners

    Untrue. The argument is that if you try to base policy decisions on statistics that are flawed by lack of granularity, you’re very likely to make terrible policy. The second point, and here is the ironic part, is that Klein’s observations turn into racial commentary at only one level of finer granulation. I don’t really think Klein is a racist – he will be terribly embarrassed if the impact of what he’s said ever hits him.

    The third point is that while I don’t truly believe that Klein is a racist, I do believe that he’s a bigot. And that’s where I draw parallels between what he said about America and the South, and what it would sound like if he said it about blacks.

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  43. Rafer Janders says:

    Ezra Klein shouldn’t hold a whole South responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if he does, then shouldn’t we blame the whole system of regional differences? And if the whole system of regional differences is guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our political institutions in general? I put it to you, James – isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to me, but I’m not going to sit here and listen to you and Ezra Klein badmouth the United States of America!

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  44. wr says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: ” So I would respond to petty jabs of his intentionally incoherently, but while referencing complex legal items about which he had no f’n clue. I’d say things like: “Maybe there’s no Constitutional right to carry a concealed gun, but try structuring a reverse triangular merger or a reverse build to suit funded by a 1031 exchange.” And he’d miss the point. Sigh”

    Shorter: I post complete gibberish and then laugh at people who are too stupid to understand how brilliant this proves me to be.

    Next: The fact that I use the word irony to mean every possible condition proves that I have a great vocabulary.

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  45. wr says:

    @Neil Hudelson: “I’m just going to go ahead and assume everything Tsar wrote in that post was fiction”

    Really? I suspect about a quarter of it was hallucination and another quarter flat-out lies. Close to a third was gibberish. But the rest — yeah, that was fiction.

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  46. cd6 says:

    No no no you guys

    The south isn’t ultra violent or anything along those lines once you multiply their “number of deaths from violent crime” statistics by 3/5, like the founding fathers intended

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  47. TheColourfield says:

    This could be a Sailer thread. There is no such thing as “Black” or “White” morons

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  48. bill says:

    without googling stats that we’re all familiar with let’s just say that a lot of the black murders are “black on black” and /or “gang related” so there’s not much media attention- just another weekend in chicago as they say. but stats don’t lie, quite an accomplishment for 13% of the populace! now jut have a white guy shoot a black….fuggetaboutit.

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  49. An Interested Party says:

    So it’s wrong to to say that the South is an unusually violent place (poor Southerners, always being picked on *sniffle*) but it’s fine to say that blacks are an unusually violent people…hmm…interesting…

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  50. geoff says:

    So it’s wrong to to say that the South is an unusually violent place (poor Southerners, always being picked on *sniffle*) but it’s fine to say that blacks are an unusually violent people…hmm…interesting…

    Um, no. The point throughout has been that it’s wrong to say that the South is an unusually violent place because it’s wrong to say that blacks are an unusually violent people.

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  51. Dave A says:

    @geoff:

    So it’s wrong to to say that the South is an unusually violent place (poor Southerners, always being picked on *sniffle*) but it’s fine to say that blacks are an unusually violent people…hmm…interesting…

    Um, no. The point throughout has been that it’s wrong to say that the South is an unusually violent place because it’s wrong to say that blacks are an unusually violent people.

    geoff, in your blog you show a chart which compares prevalence of murder and black population. You say in the comments:

    The point is that while there is obviously a strong correlation between race and violence, violence is not inherent to race

    How do Ezra Klein’s comments specifically indicate that the relationship between blacks and violence is due to some inherent characteristic about black people, rather than poverty, cultural factors, etc.? Do you believe that the statement “X country is the happiest country in the world” indicates that the person who says that statement is indicating that happiness is due to inherent characteristics of the members of that country? If not, what about the happiness statement is different than Ezra Klein’s comments that removes the implication that the characteristic is an inherent one?

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  52. bill says:

    @Dave A: maybe we can google murder/genocide stats in continental africa the past century? sure, hitler, mao, stalin & pol pot would rank too bit they get way more media play!

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  53. geoff says:

    How do Ezra Klein’s comments specifically indicate that the relationship between blacks and violence is due to some inherent characteristic about black people,

    As I’ve explained several times previously, I have been making the counter argument – that Ezra Klein has claimed that the relationships between the South and violence and between America and violence are inherent to the South and to America. I think that is a bigotry that is akin to racism.

    Do you believe that the statement “X country is the happiest country in the world” indicates that the person who says that statement is indicating that happiness is due to inherent characteristics of the members of that country?

    When the person making that statement tells you that this is one of the key facts that you need to know to engage in a policy debate, yes, I certainly do. Klein assembles a set of facts to set the stage for a gun control argument. He tells us that we need to understand that America is an unusually violent country among OECD countries, and that the South is by far the most violent region within America. Those are apparently the essential demographic facts you need to include in the discussion.

    If I told you that all you needed to know about violence in America was that blacks murder people at 7X the rate of whites, you would tell me I was an idiot and a racist for making that the sole distinguishing characteristic in murder statistics. But that’s what Klein did with America and the South. “Americans murder people at a much higher rate than other OECD countries, and Southerners are even worse.” That’s his message, and I find it offensive.

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  54. al-Ameda says:

    @geoff:

    “Americans murder people at a much higher rate than other OECD countries, and Southerners are even worse.” That’s his message, and I find it offensive.

    Where is he wrong?

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  55. Dave A says:

    @geoff:

    When the person making that statement tells you that this is one of the key facts that you need to know to engage in a policy debate, yes, I certainly do.

    I agree that he says it is one of the key facts. Another one of his key facts is a graph of violence by state, in which he describes the relationship between gun control laws and violence. The south is shown having significantly higher rates of gun violence. I can’t help but feel that you saw that and ignored it. That fact suggests that he is indicating that the lack of gun control impacts gun violence in the south.

    If I told you that all you needed to know about violence in America was that blacks murder people at 7X the rate of whites, you would tell me I was an idiot and a racist for making that the sole distinguishing characteristic in murder statistics.

    Seriously? His article is a numbered list of graphs and statistics. The title of the article even states the number of facts about the issue that will arise in the article so there are no surprises. The graph in question is one of 12, and precedes a fact about gun control and region. Which makes sense, because by your own description of Klein’s goal he is trying to make a case for gun control.

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  56. matt says:

    What’s being missed is that you’re more likely to be a poor inner city youth living in a shithole of a neighborhood if you’re black. Crime tends to concentrate in those kinds of areas so it’s no surprise a large percentage of murders take place there.

    If we lived in a parallel universe where the history of blacks and whites was swapped I’m completely positive we’d be talking about whites having a disproportionately high violence rate and such…

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  57. Dave A says:

    @matt:
    I don’t think anyone disagrees with that here, except bill. The problem is that geoff says that Klein’s statements about region and gun violence (he ignores his other points) indicate that Klein disagrees with your comment.

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  58. geoff says:

    Where is he wrong?

    If you haven’t figured it out by now, I can’t help you.

    Another one of his key facts is a graph of violence by state, in which he describes the relationship between gun control laws and violence. The south is shown having significantly higher rates of gun violence. I can’t help but feel that you saw that and ignored it.

    Yes, I certainly saw it. Note that Florida’s chart includes accidental deaths and suicides with violent deaths, so he’s not showing gun violence exclusively. I think that was a mistake – he should have shown accidental deaths vs. firearm child protection laws. It probably would have made his case for those sorts of laws stronger, and avoided mixing three entirely separate phenomena.

    In any case, Wikipedia tells us:

    The majority of gun-related deaths in the United States are suicides,[6] with 17,352 (55.6%) of the total 31,224 firearm-related deaths in 2007 due to suicide, while 12,632 (40.5%) were homicide deaths.

    Which means that this chart does not support Klein’s point (9. States with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun-related violence.) at all. When your stats are dominated by non-violent death data, you aren’t really saying much about gun violence.

    As I said in my original post, there were many flaws in Klein’s list. I only picked on a couple.

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  59. de stijl says:

    @TheColourfield:

    This could be a Sailer thread.

    Nailed it. VDARE is Stormfront with a thesaurus.

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