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Victor Davis Hanson’s Prejudice And Race In America

4.1.1Victor Davis Hanson came out the other day with his contribution to the “conversation” about race relations that has unfolded in the wake of the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial and it includes this excerpt of what he apparently has told his own children regarding race:

First, let me say that my father was a lifelong Democrat. He had helped to establish a local junior college aimed at providing vocational education for at-risk minorities, and as a hands-on administrator he found himself on some occasions in a physical altercation with a disaffected student. In middle age, he and my mother once were parking their car on a visit to San Francisco when they were suddenly surrounded by several African-American teens. When confronted with their demands, he offered to give the thieves all his cash if they would leave him and my mother alone. Thankfully they took his cash and left.

I think that experience — and others — is why he once advised me, “When you go to San Francisco, be careful if a group of black youths approaches you.” Note what he did not say to me. He did not employ language like “typical black person.” He did not advise extra caution about black women, the elderly, or the very young — or about young Asian Punjabi, or Native American males.  In other words, the advice was not about race per se, but instead about the tendency of males of one particular age and race to commit an inordinate amount of violent crime.

It was after some first-hand episodes with young African-American males that I offered a similar lecture to my own son. The advice was born out of experience rather than subjective stereotyping. When I was a graduate student living in East Palo Alto, two adult black males once tried to break through the door of my apartment — while I was in it. On a second occasion, four black males attempted to steal my bicycle — while I was on  it. I could cite three more examples that more or less conform to the same apprehensions once expressed by a younger Jesse Jackson. Regrettably, I expect that my son already has his own warnings prepared to pass on to his own future children.

So, because Hanson’s parents had one bad experience with young black males in San Francisco and he had another in East Palo Alto some years later, he’s decided that it makes sense to teach his children to inherently distrust every young black male that they encounter. But, of course, he’s not being racist.

Hanson’s essay reminds me very much of a similar, albeit much more vitrolic essay that John Derbyshire wrote at National Review in April 2012 when the whole Zimmerman/Martin case had just become a big national news story. In that piece, Derbyshire, who already had a history of controversial and borderline racist posts on other websites under his belt, set out a long and rather bizarre list setting forth the advice he allegedly gave to his sons about interactions with African-Americans. The post proved so controversial that, in addition to being denounced by pretty much every front page poster at NRO’s The Corner, ended up getting Derbyshire fired as freelance contributor at National Review.

So, what’s the difference between what Hanson wrote and what Derbyshire wrote? Outside of the fact that Hanson is clearly a better writer than Derbyshire and that his tone is far less venomous, I really don’t see a difference. Both of them are saying that an entire group of people — young black men — should be judged based on the fact that they resemble people who accosted Hanson’s father and, apparently, Hanson himself. If that’s not prejudice, then I don’t know what is.

Andrew Sullivan comments:

That’s the gist of Victor Davis Hanson’s new piece in National Review. All young black men are guilty until proven innocent – a sentiment with which New York’s chief cop apparently agrees (especially if he can gussy up his racial profiling with minor pot possession, thus making the future of any young black male that little bit harder). I don’t think anyone in this debate, including the president, has denied the disproportionate amount of crime committed by young black men (primarily against other young black men). The question is how we should personally deal with that fact while living in a multiracial society.

Let me offer a suggestion. How about treating people as individuals rather than judging them by the color of their skin or what they happen to be wearing?

Many of the problems that people have had in the whole Zimmerman/Martin mess is the fact that there is a perception that George Zimmerman made a judgment about Trayvon Martin from the beginning when he saw a young African-American man walking in his community at night and decided to call the police. Would the same concerns have been raised in his mind if the person he saw was white, or if it was someone older of whatever race, or if it was a female? That’s a hypothetical to which we don’t know, and will never know the answer. However, as President Obama pointed out in the statement he made in the White House Press Room last Friday, there is a perception in the African-American community that young black men are treated differently under these types of circumstances than other people in similar circumstances would be treated. It’s a perception that is based on experience to a large degree, and the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” policy, which has been shown to disproportionately impact young African-American males, only tends to reinforce that perception.

It’s easy to pretend that racism and racial prejudice are issues that belong to the distant past, but it seems fairly clear that this isn’t really the case. They’re still sitting there, ready to bubble up just when they aren’t needed. Being human, we’ll probably never completely get behind them, but it strikes me that the least we can do is not follow the example of people like Hanson and Derbyshire and consciously pass those prejudices on to our children.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. jukeboxgrad says:

    So, because Hanson’s parents had one bad experience with young black males in San Francisco and he had another in East Palo Alto some years later, he’s decided that it makes sense to teach his children to inherently distrust every young black male that they encounter

    Hanson is a liar (link, link, link). Therefore I think I should teach my children that all Republicans are presumably liars.

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  2. James Pearce says:

    Being human, we’ll probably never completely get behind them, but it strikes me that the least we can do is not follow the example of people like Hanson and Derbyshire and consciously pass those prejudices on to our children.

    Absolutely goddamn right.

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  3. michael reynolds says:

    Black on White:
    Many years ago my wife was attacked by a gun-wielding black male. At age 11 I was molested by a black male.

    White on White:
    Later in life I was held up at gun point by a white male. On another occasion I had my door kicked in by a white male who I very nearly stabbed with a chef’s knife. On two occasions I (probably stupidly) had to get between two different white males who were beating their girlfriends/wives. I have forcibly evicted – hands on, threats made – at least half a dozen white males from restaurants I managed. I had a rifle leveled at me by a drunken white male. I don’t think I could begin to track all the times I’ve felt threatened or been threatened by white males.

    The overwhelming percentage of crime is same race. The overwhelming majority of both races is not criminal or dangerous.

    But if you want to go through your life being afraid, there is an obvious conclusion: males are the problem. Males should be avoided.

    Males commit virtually all rapes, molestations, beatings, torture, kidnapping and murder. The problem isn’t this color of male or that color of male, but males, period. I have literally never been threatened or harmed in any physical way by a female. You want to know the problem, men? Look in the mirror.

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  4. Pinky says:

    I wouldn’t tell my hypothetical kids to watch out for blacks. Not even a group of young blacks. Definitely, though, to watch out for a group of young, urban-attired males.

    I haven’t read that Derbyshire column in a long time. As I recall, it was offensive and incredibly long.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

  5. James Pearce says:

    @Pinky:

    Definitely, though, to watch out for a group of young, urban-attired males.

    Define “urban-attired.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  6. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    Black.

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  7. michael reynolds says:

    It’s funny because when I go to the gym (shut up, I do too go to the gym) I wear sweat pants, sneakers and a hoodie.

    I’m in Japan at the moment and go out at night wearing a black blazer over black t-shirt with a black fedora, and I’m getting nervous looks. Giant gaijin dressed like Yakuza.

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  8. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Black.

    That’s what I inferred, too….but maybe he had something else in mind.

    Lemme guess…..the leather jackets and afros of the Black Panthers. Is it the starched Levis of the early Crips? The black jeans, sweatshirts, and jerry curls of NWA? The flannel shirts and slacks of early Snoop Dogg? Surely it can’t be the plaid vests and bowties of modern-day NBA ballers…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  9. James Pearce says:

    Also…..I suspect that the folks who think it’s cute to use “urban” as shorthand for “black” would be surprised to find out that Compton used to be a white neighborhood and that at the turn of the century, much of the black population was concentrated in rural areas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  10. Surreal American says:

    @James Pearce:

    Personally, I was guessing it would be the “zoot suits” of the 1940s

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  11. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    And of course you realize that rural white folks aren’t even responding to actual gangs they’ve seen but to Hollywood depictions. So they’re afraid of what black actors look like when dressed by Hollywood costume designers. Because there are few things more frightening than a black 25 year-old who came up by way of acting school and bit parts on Law and Order dressed by a woman whose own guide to urban fashion is a lay-out she saw in a 1988 issue of Vogue.

    Meanwhile that nice white meth cooker with the mullet and the Peterbilt cap is harmless.

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  12. Andre Kenji says:

    What I don´t understand is that I live in a country that has a really high crime rate. Not only that, by American Standards something like two thirds of the population would be considered “Black” in the United States.

    People that I know aren´t obsessed with crimes committed by Blacks as American Conservatives are. It´s not because we have less crime and less Blacks than the United States.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  13. Pinky says:

    @James Pearce:

    Define “urban-attired.”

    White trash of all races.

    If I meant black, I would have said something like “black”. Or “black”. If I meant rural blacks, or rural whites, or whatever, I would have said that. If you see a pack of young males coming down the street, you can tell when they’re trouble, and it has nothing to do with color. And James, if you want to have a conversation, don’t put words into someone else’s mouth. Alternately, if you’d rather have a monologue about race, admit it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 11

  14. michael reynolds says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    I know. We have a falling crime rate — been falling for more than a decade — and black-on-white crime is quite rare statistically compared to white-on-white crime. And yet racists conservatives are scared of black people.

    Guilty conscience perhaps?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  15. aFloridian says:

    I like to think I judge people by class, based on experience, but it just happens that a higher proportion of blacks in the South are impoverished compared to whites. If I am walking down the street or going to a gas station, I am absolutely more aware when I am driving through the parts of town where young black men sit on upturned grocery carts in front of gas stations loitering all day, or when I see a group of them congregating listening to the radio in front of a dollar store.

    Being someone who comes from the white lower class myself, I am naturally somewhat more comfortable around “my people” but I also have no illusions that when I return to my home community, with my nice education and professional clothes, that I also need to be leery of the poor whites with dirty clothes, bad tattoos, and chain-smoked cigarettes who lean against their pickups listening to their beat up pick-up radios.

    So yeah, I’m leery of both groups. I guess it is because poor people commit the largest proportion of the street crime (desperation? ignorance?) so it’s hardly a stretch to be on your toes when in a situation that requires you to mingle with young poor men of either color. Admitting my own prejudices, or whatever, but I’m much less worried about getting robbed (at least by force instead of in the stock market) by a group in suits (white or black) than I am worried about being robbed by young men in their lower-class clothes (be it gang/street attire or redneck attire).

    I can’t stress enough that before Uncle Sam awarded me with a high education, I CAME from the trailer parks and my in-laws are black, but I still am aware and informed by these prejudices/realities. They come from experience, and knowing who is most likely to pose a threat in my own community.

    At the end of the day, the vast majority of ANY racial or economic group are law-abiding citizens, including young black men, young white men, whatever, but some groups are disproportionately represented as posing a threat to a given individual.

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  16. Neil Hudelson says:

    Holy Sh!t. I’ve cracked superdestroyer’s real identity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  17. Peter says:

    In that piece, Derbyshire, who already had a history of controversial and borderline racist posts on other websites under his belt, set out a long and rather bizarre list setting forth the advice he allegedly gave to his sons about interactions with African-Americans.

    His son and daughter, not sons. They are half-Asian, by the way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. James Pearce says:

    @Pinky:

    If you see a pack of young males coming down the street, you can tell when they’re trouble, and it has nothing to do with color.

    How can you tell? Do they snap their fingers and sing the “Jet Song?”

    And “words in your mouth?” You’re the one said “urban-attired” knowing full well* “urban” is a lazy politically correct shorthand for “black.” It struck me as a particularly stupid comment, not only because you’re basically regurgitating Hanson, but because we all knew what you meant.

    (*Maybe I’m giving you too much credit on that one?)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 4

  19. becca says:

    A black guy tried to kidnap me in a parking lot in Nashville years ago. i was able to fight him off. White guy did a home invasion on a good friend of mine. She wasn’t so lucky. He raped her at knifepoint in front of her toddler.

    Man scum comes in many colors.

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  20. anjin-san says:

    “When you go to San Francisco, be careful if a group of black youths approaches you.”

    As a lifelong (54 years) resident of the bay area, I have logged a lot of hours in SF. Never once had a problem with black kids, in a group or otherwise. When I was tending bar in the Haight long ago, I was once surrounded by six white kids who suggested rather forcefully that I “lend them twenty bucks” (I told them they would have to settle for ten, that seemed to satisfy them)

    I know places where the black kids are scary, and I avoid them. Likewise, I know places where the white kids are scary, same with the hispanic kids. The common denominator is poverty, lack of opportunity, and lack of services.

    If you raise children in a shithole, they will often turn out badly. Perhaps we could have taken the six trillion we spent on the Iraq war and cleaned up some shitholes. Of course that would have meant the senior executives of some defense firms would have had to forego a fourth vacation home.

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  21. michael reynolds says:

    @aFloridian:

    I come from a similar background – southern trailer parks, garden apartment complexes – and I do agree that there are signals one can read. It’s just that statistically, those signals are misleading. If you or I are going to be murdered it will almost certainly be by a white person, probably someone we know. The closest I have come to real, serious trouble was from the brother of my uncle by marriage, and from a middle-aged white armed robber. Neither fit the profile. In fact, I’ve never had actual trouble with anyone who fit the profile, despite having a moderate bit of trouble in my life.

    But beyond all those instances, the most dangerous person by far was this guy named Michael Reynolds, who for a while carried a gun out of fear of other people and managed to very nearly accidentally kill some people in the process. That dude came within a few degrees of sending me to prison.

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  22. anjin-san says:

    I always find discussions like this fascinating. The single most accomplished human being I know is a black woman I grew up with. I think I can safely say that she has a more impressive list of accomplishments behind her than anyone I am aware of on OTB, and she is not done yet.

    Because of affordable public education, student loans, and scholarships, (coupled with a lot of hard work) she has been able to do amazing things.

    Yet countless millions in America would dismiss her at a glance.

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  23. James Pearce says:

    @anjin-san:

    Yet countless millions in America would dismiss her at a glance.

    Depending on her name, most of these clowns wouldn’t even need a glance to dismiss her.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  24. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @aFloridian:

    Admitting my own prejudices, or whatever, but I’m much less worried about getting robbed (at least by force instead of in the stock market) by a group in suits (white or black) than I am worried about being robbed by young men in their lower-class clothes (be it gang/street attire or redneck attire).

    The fun part is that the group in suits is far more adept at, and far more successful at, robbing in general.

    A street thug steals $100 with a gun. A talented lawyer can steal $100 million with a pen.

    (Note: humor. Laugh …)

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  25. James Pearce says:

    @Peter:

    They are half-Asian, by the way.

    Big deal. My racist father and his horrible wife told me growing up never to bring home a black or Hispanic girl.

    But an Asian girl…..well, that was alright. That doesn’t mean my folks weren’t racists. That just means they really didn’t think this stuff through…..

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  26. al-Ameda says:

    I think that experience — and others — is why he once advised me, “When you go to San Francisco, be careful if a group of black youths approaches you

    .”

    My personal experience with crime damned-close-to-crime: (1) I was robbed at knife point in mid morning by two white guys in Berkeley, (2) one weekend afternoon at a park in San Francisco, I was hassled, punched and shoved to the ground and kicked by 3 white guys, and (3) in downtown Oakland while I was being robbed at knife point at an ATM by a black guy, another black guy intervened and chased the guy away.

    I’ve advised my children to be aware of where you are, time of day is important, what kind of neighborhood you’re in, and be practical – minimize the risk as best you can. Don’t live in fear.

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  27. becca says:

    I might add I live in midtown Memphis now. My neighborhood is very mixed both economically and racially. I see hordes of black youth everyday. Walking home from school. Sometimes we smile and wave. Very scary.

    It never occurred to me to fear a whole race because of one little asshole.

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  28. anjin-san says:

    @ becca

    It never occurred to me to fear a whole race because of one little asshole.

    You probably don’t have a future in the conservative movement.

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  29. Ron Beasley says:

    My recently departed mother was one of the most bigoted people I have known. It was strange because she grew up in Eastern Washington State and probably only saw a handful of blacks before her parents moved to the Portland area when she was 18. But one of that handful took a shot at her father when she was in her early teens (he missed) and that determined her attitude for her entire life. My father was from the deep south and was much more tolerant. My father had passed away before Obama was elected but I think he would have been OK with it, my dear mother on the other hand thought it was the end of the world. She could never forgive her younger brother for voting for Obama.

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  30. mannning says:

    A few years ago here in Richmond, Virginia, I hired a black man to help me lay bricks in my back yard. His name was James, he must have been 65 or perhaps a lot older, and he was a good helper over the day we laid brick. At the end of the day after I paid him, I offered to drive him home and he accepted, but when we got to the entrance to his area, he said: Stop the car! I asked why, and isn’t your house a lot further down the street? His reply I will never forget. He said (I paraphrase since I cannot duplicate his speech patterns): This neighborhood is very dangerous for whites; your nice Cadillac car would be hijacked, and you would be hurt or even killed if they found you further inside this territory. So just stop here and I will walk the rest of the way. Mind what I say, Mr M., I know what I am talking about! I let him out then and there. James worked for me all that summer, and then didn’t show up for a planned work day that fall.
    He had died.

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  31. superdestroyer says:

    @michael reynolds:

    MR, could you please point us to all of the posts where you criticized Levar Burton for ranting about how dangerous white policemen are for black males. How man black males were killed by law enforcement in 2012 versus how many blacks were killed by other blacks, how many whites were killed by other whites and how many whites were killed by other blacks.

    Using Department of Justice statistics, it is quite easy to see that black males are much more in danger from other blacks than from whites or from law enforcement. Yet, there has been hundreds of articles and columns written about the talk blacks have to have with their male children about how dangerous law enforcement is to blacks but none of them ever mention how dangerous blacks males are for other blacks.

    If you ever want to know how elite liberal whites feel about blacks, just look at how diverse the private schools, elusive neighborhoods, and workplaces are compared to the rest of America.

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  32. JohnMcC says:

    The absolute gold-standard reply to Dr Hanson’s stupid remarks comes from TaNehisi Coats on the Atlantic’s website. Like Mr Mataconis, he extends his destruction to the National Review as a magazine. Which leads me to the little bit (hopefully not too far off-topic) that Dr Michael Mann’s defamation suit against Nat’l Review has been allowed to go forward. Delicious!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  33. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    I’m probably losing my liberal cred here but honestly, this kind of mutual theoretical backslapping is part of the problem why liberal ideas get little grip in working-class environments.

    Of course it would be nice to judge people exclusively by their real selves. But in many cases you don’t have that luxury. If you want to do a threat assessment you can’t invite the guy to tea to find out if he’s nice or not. You “make do” with the information you have. And that includes general probabilities and external signs.

    I find it somewhat funny that everyone here is jumping all over Doug because he says that some areas are too individual to be assessed by statistical analysis (Nate Silver) but at the same time threat assessments can never be done by relying on statistical data.

    And everyone normally agrees that under conditions of even moderate wealth attire is used as signalling device. Standard sociology. Rather uncontested in fellow liberal circles. Unless it’s “hood attire”. Then noticing it is coded language. C’mon guys. Of course the saggy-pants and gold chains attired 400-pound youth with the gym muscles and the tattoos could just be a nice middle-class kid signalling identification with his favourite music subculture. But using outside appearance as a base line until you have more information? That’s what signalling has been used for for millennia.

    As has been pointed out above: groups of bored, disenfranchised youths are trouble the world over regardless of “race”. Pretending that you really can’t make those snap judgements because we are all individuals won’t fly outside academic seminars. This just loses us credibility when we start pointing out the real problems (the disenfranchisement and institutional racism).

    In the end this is a classical case where individually rational behaviour creates institutional racism. That is a problem. But stoning the guy who behaves, by his own and lots of others’ judgement, rational is not going to advance the cause. It just creates solidarity from others who don’t buy it that the guy did something wrong individually. Point out where the problem really lies (institutional, not individual racism) and suggest solutions. Backslapping ourselves because we’re all that colour-blind is not going to cut it in the real world.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  34. superdestroyer says:

    @JohnMcC:

    I looked at what Coates said http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/07/its-the-racism-stupid/278026/ and short of saying that Hanson is a racist, there was not take down.

    It is the standard liberal diatribe that says that everyone should just ignore all of the statistical evidence and any white who pays attention to statistical data is a racist. It was also laughably racist in its POV that blacks are allowed to act of their own anecdotal stories but whites are not. I guess when a black liberal believes in thought crimes, it makes sense that they would write such nonsense.

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  35. Pinky says:

    @James Pearce:

    You’re the one said “urban-attired” knowing full well* “urban” is a lazy politically correct shorthand for “black.” (*Maybe I’m giving you too much credit on that one?)

    I don’t pay attention to politically-correct terminology, because it’s generally less accurate and longer-winded. When I said “urban” I meant “urban”. There is a distinct lower-income urban culture in the US. You could call it “hip-hop” I guess, but that’s not quite right. You can, of course, find people in lower-income urban areas who don’t participate in it, and you can find a lot of suburban teenage boys who pretend they’re part of it. But it largely originated in urban America.

    It has nothing to do with race. The majority of its members are white, I’d guess. Maybe plurality. A large percentage of blacks and hispanics are part of it, especially if you’re in a city. Its root cause is the collapse of the family in urban America – which affects some races more than others, but causes damage wherever it goes. Urban culture in the 1940’s was different. Black culture in the 1940’s was different.

    If you can suggest a better word than “urban”, please do.

    Also – I’m sorry. I see that Michael was the one who first labelled me a racist on this thread, not you. You did go along with it, but I shouldn’t have snapped at you the way I did. I do stand by my point that a conversation will generally include things you don’t agree with, and if you want to have a conversation about race in this country then you can’t expect unanimity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

  36. michael reynolds says:

    @superdestroyer:

    The actual statistical evidence is quite clear. If you are murdered it will be by a white male, not by a black male. Crime is white-on-white and black-on-black. (Also Asian-on-Asian and Latino-on-Latino.) Now that is the statistical reality.

    But of course you don’t really give a damn about the facts. So cut the b.s.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  37. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    The actual statistical evidence is quite clear. If you are murdered it will be by a white male, not by a black male.

    That’s true but misses the point here. Due to segregation you’re more likely to meet a lot more people or your own “race” than of any other. You will therefore be most likely to be hurt by them regardless of delinquency rates.

    But if you want to assess the danger in a specific situation you’re not doing a lifetime average. You want to know the odds concerning the specific subgroup that person belongs to.

    Let’s put it like this: Let’s assume you’re a very successful author with readings all over the states (to just use a random example). You’re probably more likely in the long run to die in a plane crash than in an automobile accident simply due to the relative time spent in either. But when deciding between car and plane for a specific trip that overall probability is less important than the concrete likelihood of a crash per mile driven/flown.

    If I am to assess the probability of danger from an unknown individual, likelihood statistics are worthless. I am not facing all the

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  38. michael reynolds says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius:

    You “make do” with the information you have. And that includes general probabilities and external signs.

    Except that your probabilities are simply wrong. Once again, if you are white and you are murdered you will most likely be murdered by a white male. The people who have to fear black males are other black males.

    8% of homicides are black on white. So if you’re going to spend your life in fear, spend 92% of it being afraid of whites.

    In fact, if you are murdered it will quite likely be by a white male you know. That’s reality. You want to fear someone? Fear your hot-headed cousin who drinks too much and owns a gun. Or fear your wife’s ex-husband. The odds of you being murdered by black youth are close to non-existent.

    Do you go around cringing when you see your white acquaintances? No, of course not, despite the clear statistics. Because it is not easy for you to fear the majority and it is quite easy to fear the minority.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  39. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    And I want to officially note that I feel kind of dirty to be on the “same side” as SD here, even if only by remote association :P.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. michael reynolds says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius:

    I do not equate you with SD. He’s a racist goon. You, I think, are just mistaken in my opinion.

    Crime relies on opportunity, as you point out. The killer and victim have to be in proximity and there has to be motive. It is certainly true that if you go into a crime-infested area dominated by gangs, you’re in danger, whether we’re talking black, white, Asian or Latino. That doesn’t change the fact that the actual danger to you comes from other white people. very likely white people you already know.

    But it is not practical for a white person to go around scared of white people. We’re the majority. So despite the fact that the real danger to you will come from other whites, you single out the minority to fear because it’s easy. You subconsciously think, “Well, I can manage this danger based on skin color.” Understandable, but wrong. In fact you haven’t managed anything, you’ve blinded yourself to actual potential danger by focusing on an easier but mistaken solution to the problem of risk-avoidance.

    The social effects of this are destructive. Because you and I and other white people incorrectly assess the danger we stigmatize a group which in turn increases that group’s disadvantage which contributes to the likelihood of them committing crime.

    In the process of reasonably but mistakenly attempting to minimize risk, we increase risk. This isn’t just true in race relations, but in lots of areas from health to foreign relations. Humans are rather bad at correctly assessing real risks. You are, for example, far, far more likely to be killed by sun exposure than by a shark. So while you delay applying sunblock so you scan the ocean for sharks you’re actually increasing your risk while mistakenly focusing on the more easily-identified but less dangerous risk.

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  41. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Do you go around cringing when you see your white acquaintances? No, of course not, despite the clear statistics. Because it is not easy for you to fear the majority and it is quite easy to fear the minority.

    It is as much a matter of known vs. unknown. I don’t fear my white acquaintances because I know them. I don’t know anyone in a random group of males coming my way. I’m able to judge the relative risks of associating with my acquaintances, I am not with a random group of males.

    Detroit has been in the news a lot lately, and besides the bankruptcy it’s been noted how dangerous the city is. But apart from a single instance–which lasted about two seconds and didn’t result in any harm to me–I never felt unsafe working in Detroit. Because Detroit isn’t the unknown to me.

    (The instance was this: I was working as a telecom field engineer and got a call for a location in a not-too-nice part of Detroit. But it was the middle of the day, and as I said I know the city, so I didn’t think much of it. I arrived at the location and parked, and as I got out of my truck, I realized the parking lot was hosting a drug deal and the participants were not too pleased with my presence. I got a little nervous, I’ll admit. But when I pulled out my tool bag, they realized I was just there to do a job, and that was it. I went about my business, they went about theirs. The end.

    Yes, I know this was basically nothing. That’s my point. I worked in Detroit for four years and that’s the “worst” thing that happened.)

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  42. michael reynolds says:

    Statistically if you really want to avoid risks from crime you’d avoid males, period. You’d cut your risk of being murdered by just about 100%.

    Ah, but it’s not easy to avoid males, though it would all but eliminate your risk of being killed. It is easy to avoid black males, despite it having only a marginal effect on your actual risk.

    The easy thing to do is scapegoat the minority. Which is the basis of racism. It is easy to identify and stigmatize the “other,” much harder to correctly assess actual, real-world threats, especially when they come from people who look and sound like we do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  43. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Statistically if you really want to avoid risks from crime you’d avoid males, period. You’d cut your risk of being murdered by just about 100%.

    You’ve obviously never met my ex…

    (ba-dum-tish)

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  44. michael reynolds says:

    @Mikey:

    A friend of a friend, she and her entire family were murdered by their teenaged son. They kept guns in the house, but because they knew their son, obviously, they allowed him access to a weapon they’d of course never have dreamt of handing to some random person on the street. Of course the odds are 99.99% the random person on the street would have been no threat.

    Life. It’ll fwck with you. Me, I don’t trust my kids at all: after all, I know who raised them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  45. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds: Obviously things happen (mental illness, for example) that can cause people you trust to turn on you. And of course you’re correct that you’re much more likely to be hurt by someone you know, simply because you are around them a lot.

    Humans have evolved awareness of strangers for pretty good reasons, and as with so much else in our evolutionary heritage, it is hard to get past even though it’s much less useful in the modern world.

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  46. stonetools says:

    I know one thing now. If I am “followed” by a white male while walking down the street, I am going to assume that he is armed, means me no good, and is liable to shoot me dead if he thinks I am dressed wrong, am walking in a way that “looks” aimless, and if I confront him. That’s my prejudice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  47. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    But it is not practical for a white person to go around scared of white people. We’re the majority. So despite the fact that the real danger to you will come from other whites, you single out the minority to fear because it’s easy. You subconsciously think, “Well, I can manage this danger based on skin color.” Understandable, but wrong. In fact you haven’t managed anything, you’ve blinded yourself to actual potential danger by focusing on an easier but mistaken solution to the problem of risk-avoidance.

    See, this is where, in my opinion, you’re going wrong. If you profile correctly in the proverbial “dark street” situation you are, in fact, reducing personal risk.

    Now what you are (correctly) arguing is that that risk reduction is basically meaningless compared with other risks. But you really can’t argue that the fact that the risk diminished is small automatically means that trying to do so is morally unacceptable. That just won’t fly with most people.

    To give an example: Would you accept “you needn’t be afraid of guns because your risk of dying from heart failure is much higher, so attempts to pass gun legislation are irrational attempts at suppressing conservatives”? Probably not. And the reason that we don’t is that it is generally accepted that everyone has the right to minimize personal risk as he/she sees fit. Otherwise warning children off ledges would be pointless in a world with car accidents.

    So this

    The easy thing to do is scapegoat the minority. Which is the basis of racism. It is easy to identify and stigmatize the “other,” much harder to correctly assess actual, real-world threats, especially when they come from people who look and sound like we do.

    is well-intentioned but not really smart because it goes against basic concepts that most of us share (even if we differ in practical application). The problem is not the motive, it’s the effect.

    What we have to argue is not that “this is the kind of advice which betrays a greater interest in maintaining one’s worldview than in maintaining one’s safety”, it’s that this shit is damaging society to a degree that makes any potential risk reduction resulting from it fools gold.

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  48. JKB says:

    Well, the problem is giving advice to kids. As has been noted, the big risk is young males, the bigger the pack the more dangerous. Although, these days the girls are holding their own. So I guess we can say the problem is the youts.

    However, your kid is also a youth and possibly in situations, a yout. So how do they discern. They need to know there is no youth solidarity. If you aren’t from there, you are potential victim. If you stick out by skin color, fancy car, dress or mannerisms, then you move up the potential victim list. Oh, and throw in some alcohol or drugs, mixed liberal with suppressed animosity, you have a real dangerous mix.

    The key advice would be to trust the hairs on the back of their neck and not to let some ignorant liberal sensibility keep them from taking their advice. Of course, your kid has to survive long enough to get a good sense when things are going against him.

    Now, the reason this advice is often incorporated against blacks and other minorities, is the fact a white, suburban kid is the real odd man out there. But also, there are few places kids routinely go where they encounter packs of white youts. But should they venture off the main attractions out in the hills, I’d recommend applying the same sensibilities to groups of white males they might encounter. Same race or not, your kid will be the odd man out and there are those suppressed animosities. Oh and generally the encounters will involve alcohol or drugs.

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  49. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    Don’t forget to put your depends on before leaving the house.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

  50. Rick Almeida says:

    @becca:

    I used to live at the corner of Poplar & Cooper – Midtown is Memphis!

    Living now as I do in small town SC, I feel I have far more to worry about from some cracker-ass tweaker than anyone else.

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  51. JKB says:

    @anjin-san:

    Funny, but it does depend on whether the situation indicates increased caution.

    A few years ago in Norfolk, a new chinese restaurant opened up no more than a mile from my office. Unfortunately, in a grocery store strip mall across the street from the projects. This was also less than a mile but a world away from my apartment. I went a few times, to an open parking lot next to a grocery store, never after noon (when the thugs would be coming out of their drug haze) with a busy gas station on the corner of the parking lot. The food was good and I went randomly, so no pattern. Yet, I still started feeling I was getting to much attention after a few months.

    I worked with an African-American lady who let me know I shouldn’t go to this parking lot. And shortly after an older African-American man who ran our warehouse made a special trip to my desk across the facility and up the stairs to tell me not to go there as it was to dangerous. I don’t remember if he mentioned due to my race so I suppose it could have been due to my uniform. Norfolk does have a love/hate relationship with the Navy.

    As an aside, at that same intersection, two white local newspaper reporters were assaulted by African-Americans in the street after a nearby concert let out.

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  52. Woody says:

    @James Pearce:

    Agreed – Mr. Mataconis’ final paragraph was extraordinary (as was the full post).

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  53. gVOR08 says:

    @Woody: Yes. Credit where due. Good post, Doug.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  54. NickTamere says:

    I don’t really understand the point of these “a black guy told me to avoid the bad neighborhood” stories; there are some weird implications in their framing.

    But I absolutely agree with Doug’s post.

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  55. Grewgills says:

    Clothes can be a part of threat assessment, but if clothes and race are the only thing you are looking at you aren’t making yourself safer. I have lived in big cities and small towns in the Southern and Western US and in Europe and for a short time in the developing world. I have often been warned about neighborhoods to avoid everywhere I went, that people there will stab or shoot you as soon as look at you. In every case I ignored that advice and found that the danger was radically overblown. Some of the best times and best food I have had, I had specifically because I ignored that advice and spent time in the neighborhoods I was supposed to avoid. Every where I have been I have found that when I approach people with respect and kindness that is generally returned. Maybe I am just lucky.

    I have only feared for my life because of another person once. I picked up a white woman hitchhiking in the rain in rural HI. I didn’t realize anything was wrong until I felt the knife at my throat. I made it out fine and she is probably still in jail.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  56. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Rick Almeida: I also live in SC and have frequent contact with whites, blacks and Hispanics. The only direct threats that have ever been made against me came from whites, when I made the mistake of working for the Census Bureau in 2009 and 2010.

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  57. Tyrell says:

    @michael reynolds: I am glad someone mentioned the “trailer parks”. These tend to make the news around here every weekend with domestic violence, drunk violence, drug violence, theft violence, violence over a tv game, child abuse violence, poker game or horseshoe violence. It is usually worse in summer when it gets hot, tempers are short, and someone whistles or makes a comment about someone’s wife or girlfriend who is parading around in short shorts and a tank top. Of course many are sitting around in lawn chairs swilling alcoholic beverages and listening to the car race on the radio. Now, there are some “trailer parks” where one event gets you out, no questions or some sort of legal hoops to go through to evict someone, you are gone. So the violence is not all in Detroit, Oakland, or D.C. It is in the suburbs and rural towns. Sometimes the best advice if someone messes with you is to tell them “Go ahead, make my day!!”
    “Mr., you’re going back pig or pork. Now make up your mind!” Marshall Dillon, “Gunsmoke”
    (“Gunsmoke was one of the most violent tv programs, and one of the longest running)

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  58. george says:

    @michael reynolds:

    But if you want to go through your life being afraid, there is an obvious conclusion: males are the problem. Males should be avoided.

    Actually, as a child I was twice badly beaten by women. But I was never bitten by a dog or a cat. Obviously humans are the problem, and should be avoided.

    BTW, I’m agreeing with you, I’m just carrying on the logic – if everyone pools their experiences, we can probably, based on Hanson’s example, conclude that life is the problem and should be avoided. Hanson is an idiot.

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  59. mantis says:

    I just got a new job, but spent the last seven years working on the south side of Chicago. Not Hyde Park, real south side. Black south side (Chicago is still rather segregated). In all those years, I usually walked alone, often encountered groups of young black men (and black individuals of all kinds). By often I mean basically every day. I never had a single incident when I felt threatened, let alone attacked in any way. Not once.

    We do have serious crime problems in my city, and I did know people who were mugged, though they were almost always robbed of cell phones they were holding while not paying attention to their surroundings. Did I escape the menace of black criminals simply because I was lucky? I don’t think so. The threat has just been exaggerated for a very long time by the media and racist twerps like Hansen.

    If you fear black males simply because they are black males, chances are you do because you were told to, and not because of a real danger, whether you can admit it or not.

    Oh, and by the way, if you walk around looking nervous and scared, you are a target for criminals, regardless of race. You are easy pickins, but its still very unlikely anything bad will happen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  60. An Interested Party says:

    C’mon guys. Of course the saggy-pants and gold chains attired 400-pound youth with the gym muscles and the tattoos could just be a nice middle-class kid signalling identification with his favourite music subculture. But using outside appearance as a base line until you have more information? That’s what signalling has been used for for millennia.

    Hmm…black teenager with a hoodie walking through the neighborhood…watch out…maybe he was going to assault someone with the can of iced tea…

    I don’t really understand the point of these “a black guy told me to avoid the bad neighborhood” stories; there are some weird implications in their framing.

    Not too hard to understand…”a black guy told me it was ok to be a bigot”…sort of similar to “hey, I’m not a racist, why, some of my best friends are black”…

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  61. michael reynolds says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius:

    I don’t argue that there’s no risk in the “dark street scenario.” Rather that the problem is the dark street and any male to be encountered there, regardless of race. Dark street in Charlestown Boston you should worry about Irish-looking kids. Dark street in Brighton Beach you should worry about the Russians. So on.

    But if we teach our kids to look out for black or “urban” males, yes, we damage society, and we also give a free (potentially dangerous) pass to other potential threats.

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  62. Andre Kenji says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius:

    See, this is where, in my opinion, you’re going wrong. If you profile correctly in the proverbial “dark street” situation you are, in fact, reducing personal risk.

    1-) You don´t profile anyone in the middle of the night. Generally, because you´ll only note the race of a certain person if he is close enough to you to do some harm. You should avoid contact with anyone, regardless of their ethnicity, if you are walking alone in the middle of the night.

    That´s why George Zimmerman behavior was dangerous, and many people, of all races, would either run from him or punch him.

    2-) Having said that, crime in the United States is at pretty low levels. There are very few Whites, Blacks and whatever coming to attack you. Or Mr. Hanson.

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  63. mannning says:

    @michael reynolds:

    That is a contradiction. You look out for blacks in dark streets also, as part of the male lookout.
    There is lots of evidence here (Virginia) that the black on white crime stat is serious and growing. I have ancodotal evidence of 8 such crimes in a radius of two blocks from my house over the last 3 years. Two muggings, three rape/murders, an assault with deadly weapon, a beating of a white student by 3 blacks in front of my house causing eventual death, and an attempted breakin by two blacks on a pair of girls.We tell the kids here to watch out for blacks unless they are known, and to be aware of any strangers of any race.

    The police record lists over 2,000 reported crimes per year in the larger FAN neighborhood of Richmond of a thousand homes, 83% of which were black on white crimes! And some commenters make an attempt to say the worst is white on white and black on black. That may be true for the nation, but not here in Richmond City where it counts for my family.

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  64. superdestroyer says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I know you hate data because any data that does not support your PC beliefs must be ignored but if you look at government data is says:

    Blacks were disproportionately represented as both homicide
    victims and off enders. Th e victimization rate for blacks (27.8
    per 100,000) was 6 times higher than the rate for whites (4.5 per
    100,000). Th e off ending rate for blacks (34.4 per 100,000) was almost
    8 times higher than the rate for whites (4.5 per 100,000)

    from http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/htus8008.pdf

    Giving all males the same level of concern makes absolutely no statistical sense but it is very politically correct. What is amazing is what Hanson was writing is statistically correct but progressives still call him a racist. I guess paying attention to “Hate Facts” cannot be tolerated in the U.S.

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  65. superdestroyer says:

    For everyone who wants to repeat the meme that black families need to talk to the sons about how dangerous the police are, you can look up the data on everyone who was killed by the police in 2012 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_killings_by_law_enforcement_officers_in_the_United_States_2012

    The first thing I noticed in looking for people who were killed during traffic stops is the several deaths that results from people trying to flee from the police. Maybe it would be more useful for black families to review the actual data of deaths at the hands of police rather than repeating myths.

    what is also amazing is the number of people who were killed by police cars hitting pedestrians because law enforcement were not using their lights and sirens.

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  66. michael reynolds says:

    @superdestroyer:

    You want the answer to be “Nig*er, nig*er, nig*er,” and you won’t be happy with anything else.

    The statistics are quite clear:

    1) Violent crime has dropped dramatically in the US over the last decade.
    2) Black on white homicide accounts for 8% of murders. EIGHT PERCENT.

    You believe that whites should stigmatize blacks despite the fact that if you are killed the odds are 92% that it will be by a white person. And about 100% that it will be by a male. But of course those are inconvenient to your core mission which is preaching racist hatred.

    Facts mean nothing to you. You are a hardcore racist with not the slightest interest in anything but hate. Everyone here knows you for what you are. You’re filth.

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  67. Pinky says:

    @michael reynolds: Michael, I haven’t been here that long, but did Superdestroyer really earn that kind of comment? Even if he did, did you help matters by making it?

    As for your stats, you say that 8% of all murders are black-on-white, so therefore if a white man is killed, there’s a 92% chance that it was by a white man. It seems like that would only be true if there were no hispanics, and no black men are ever the victim of violence. Maybe I’m reading your stats wrong.

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  68. anjin-san says:

    I haven’t been here that long, but did Superdestroyer really earn that kind of comment?

    I can take this one. Yes.

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  69. Pinky says:

    @anjin-san: Seriously, no, you can’t take this one. I haven’t read anything in your comments that indicates sound judgment.

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  70. R.Dave says:

    @michael reynolds:

    [I]f you are killed the odds are 92% that it will be by a white person.

    That’s true, but it’s not really relevant to the risk analysis in a situation where you know the race of the person you’re assessing.

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  71. Pinky says:

    Also worth noting: most murderers aren’t strangers. But most crimes aren’t murder. We should probably be looking at the violent crime rate by race (if there is such a thing).

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  72. ernieyeball says:

    @Pinky: …did Superdestroyer really earn that kind of comment?

    OTB Snooze: We remember…You decide…

    Stormy Dragon says:
    Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 13:14
    I don’t actually remember ever really believing in Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, etc.

    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/lying-about-the-easter-bunny-santa-claus-and-the-tooth

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  73. ernieyeball says:

    @ernieyeball: Yeah. Well I can’t tell the SD’s apart. I suspect that they are twins joined at the brain…or somewhere.

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  74. jmc says:

    Well as a 25 year resident of SF Hansons dads advice was right on the money.. Funny in a city where blacks are less than 10% of the population the only guy who tried to rob me was a black guy (at 2’nd and Brannan in broad daylight) and the only time my apartment was robbed was by a black guy from the Potrero Hill projects. He left finger prints so he is now in jail. And the home invasion robbery of my (Asian) next doorneighbours house was… a gang of blacks.

    I’m a big white guy, from Europe, with very extensive experience of some of the dodgier areas of various European and US cities. The only time I’ve had the slightest problem with street scum (les racaille) is with American blacks and with drunken English chavs. With the chavs is just bovine stupidity but the saddest and scariest part of the problem with american blacks is their unrelenting racism. Its always a shock returning from London where apart from the Yardies blacks have no real entrenched cultural racism to US where black racism is unrelenting and almost universal. I always try to keep a positive attitude, and hope I am dealing with recent African immigrants who dont have this problem, but its difficult in the face of such an endemic cultural trait.

    So the Hanson Snr advice is just plain common sense. In SF you dont have to be worried about been jumped by a gaggle of Asians or Hispanics kids. But a group of young blacks is another story. And as a white guy in various European countries you have to keep a eye out for either white working class yobs (or drunk middle class ones at night or else small groups of Magrebiens or their local equivalent. Because in an urban environment thats were the risks are.

    Thats how the real world works. Even if it does not fit the political narrative of so many around here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

  75. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky

    I haven’t read anything in your comments that indicates sound judgment.

    Given what we have seen of your value/belief system, this comes as a relief…

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  76. Pinky says:

    @jmc: You hit on two important topics for an honest discussion of race in America: the success of the recent African immigrant, and the racism among black non-immigrants.

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  77. george says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I don’t argue that there’s no risk in the “dark street scenario.” Rather that the problem is the dark street and any male to be encountered there, regardless of race.

    Seriously, you’re dating yourself (I’m guessing you’re not really sexist) by restricting it to males. Females are picking up the pace on this one too, at least in Canada – especially females attacking females. Go into a dark street at night and the problem is anyone you might encounter there, regardless of race or gender.

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  78. ernieyeball says:

    @jmc: But a group of young blacks is another story.

    This, of course, is your politically correct narrative.

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  79. the Q says:

    An interesting corollary, when I got mugged in Downtown Los Angeles many years ago, the first thing my white friends would ask? “Was it a black guy?”

    I think this proves the almost preternatural wiring we have to conclude that the crime must have been done by a black guy, since we have become conditioned to jump to this conclusion.

    Notice, I was the one mugged, and the others were just listening to my story, but their near 100% initial response was “did you get robbed by a black guy.”

    I think this precondtioned response is the problem and Ph.Ds have been awarded and books written about why this is the case.

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  80. An Interested Party says:

    Hmm…the person who wrote this…

    The only time I’ve had the slightest problem with street scum (les racaille) is with American blacks…

    …goes on to write this…

    …but the saddest and scariest part of the problem with american blacks is their unrelenting racism.

    Hmm…maybe this fella has so many problems with these blacks because he and they are so much alike…

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  81. mannning says:

    @An Interested Party:

    What a cynic you are!

    I deliberately did not state any conclusions from my story to draw out your kind of trashy comment. I succeeded. You look for the worst possible interpretation, don’t you? Try thinking with an open mind for once.

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  82. Monala says:

    The only time in my life I was ever mugged, it was by a white guy, in Somerville, MA, at about 6 in the evening. The neighborhood had a large number of Latinos, and the police wouldn’t believe me when I said the guy was white. (He was pretty pale, and very tall; the Latinos in the neighborhood were mostly to be Salvadorans, who tend to be short).

    Once while riding the T (the subway) through the Dorchester section of Boston, a group of Vietnamese teens were harassing people on the train. As they jumped off the subway, one of them picked up a rock and lobbed it at the train’s window, creating a spider web crack across it.

    A number of black teens were riding on the train. My fear was that as soon as we pulled into the station, someone from T security would see the crack and assume one of the black kids was to blame.

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  83. Monala says:

    @An Interested Party: And of course, Trayvon Martin was not a ” saggy-pants and gold chains attired 400-pound youth with the gym muscles and the tattoos.” He was a skinny, ordinary looking teenager. His pants weren’t sagging, and the hoodie he was wearing is pretty ubiquitous clothing among teenagers of all races. And he had it over his head because it was raining.

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  84. Eric Florack says:

    disproportionately?
    On what basis, Doug, do you make such a claim?
    Is it simply because more blacks are stopped and frisked, independent of per capita crime stats?

    Tell me… do you think, for example, that the numbers of blacks in jail is disproportional to the number of crimes committed per capita?

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  85. jukeboxgrad says:

    Treating black drugs and white drugs differently is a good way to manipulate “crimes committed per capita” and make sure a lot of young black people can’t vote.

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