THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED: I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise. Leah Libresco is a statistician and former newswriter at FiveThirtyEight, a data journalism site. She is the author of “Arriving at Amen.” Before I started researching gun deaths, gun-control policy used to frustrate me.
Joe Biden, who just a few years ago was still bragging about “the 1994 Biden Crime Bill,” has since had second thoughts about aspects of that law, including its expansion of mandatory minimums and crimes subject to the death penalty.
I’ve examined all of the evidence carefully and it’s true: What Trump has done — from spying on journalists to unconstitutional treaties — is tyrannical.
Yesterday the Joe Biden campaign crashed like a drunken Humpty Dumpty falling off a wall. As it lie in pieces, rotting on the ground, I watched in horror as the Democrat’s pet press carefully reassembled the pieces with fake news glue.
BYRON YORK: Has anyone actually read the El Paso manifesto? Much discussion was spurred by an article in the New York Times with the headline, “El Paso Shooting Suspect’s Manifesto Echoes Trump’s Language.” The story quoted just 28 words of the nearly 2,400-word manifesto.
Since the El Paso shootings, the Trump opposition has ramped up one of its favorite angles for attack: Trump is a racist! They think this is a winner. That message was heavily pushed ever since Trump first declared his candidacy in his kickoff speech.
Source: Trump the racist
The claim of a significant white supremacist threat (led by Trump, no less) is the latest cynical canard of a left that seeks to divide the nation into competing tribes. Over the past weekend In El Paso, a terrorist inspired by many things , including ecology ( Mother Jones characterizes the shooter as an “eco-facist”) — but not by Trump — committed a mass shooting, killing twenty and wounding twenty-six.
Well, I don’t know. I’m starting to think they’re pretty darn common.
Doing research for a book, Hate Crime Hoax, I was able to easily put together a data set of 409 confirmed hate hoaxes. An overlapping but substantially different list of 348 hoaxes exists at fakehatecrimes.org, and researcher Laird Wilcox put together another list of at least 300 in his still-contemporary book Crying Wolf. To put these numbers in context, a little over 7,000 hate crimes were reported by the FBI in 2017 and perhaps 8-10% of these are widely reported enough to catch the eye of a national researcher.
However, hate crime hoaxers are “calling attention to a problem” that is a very small part of total crimes. There is very little brutally violent racism in the modern USA. There are less than 7,000 real hate crimes reported in a typical year. Inter-racial crime is quite rare; 84% of white murder victims and 93% of Black murder victims are killed by criminals of their own race, and the person most likely to kill you is your ex-wife or husband. When violent inter-racial crimes do occur, whites are at least as likely to be the targets as are minorities. Simply put, Klansmen armed with nooses are not lurking on Chicago street corners.
In this context, what hate hoaxers actually do is worsen generally good race relations, and distract attention from real problems. As Chicago’s disgusted top cop, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, pointed out yesterday, skilled police officers spent four weeks tracking down Smollett’s imaginary attackers — in a city that has seen 28 murders as of Feb. 9th, according to The Chicago Tribune. We all, media and citizens alike, would be better served to focus on real issues like gun violence and the opiate epidemic than on fairy tales like Jussie’s.
Jonah Goldberg writes on manufactured hate crimes in his weekly newsletter.
Here’s something you might not know: In Nazi Germany, very few Jews staged bogus hate crimes against themselves.
Here’s some more trivia: Very few blacks in the Jim Crow South went to great lengths to pretend that they were harassed or attacked by racists.
You know why? Because that would be incredibly stupid. What, exactly, would the German Jew who staged an assault on himself gain from it? Where would he or she go to ask for sympathy or recompense? Conjure any horror story you like, the Nazi official you brought it to would say, “Yeah, and . . . ?” The black sharecropper who took the time to make his own cross and burn it on his own property would benefit . . . how?
Why am I bringing this up? Well, for a bunch of reasons. I have more points to make than can be found at an English Setter competition.
First, people who live under real oppression have no need to fabulate oppression. To paraphrase Madge from the old Palmolive ads: They’re already soaking in it.
Second, when you live in an oppressive country, there’s no one you can take your grievances to because that is what it means to live in an oppressive country!The Hate Hoax Bonfire
And indeed, calling a real racist “racist” doesn’t work. “Name and shame” is not very effective against those who aren’t ashamed.
Which brings me to the third point: In non-oppressive countries, there are people to take your case to. Sohrab Ahmari put it nicely in an essay a couple of years ago:
And as Pascal Bruckner wrote in his essay “The Tyranny of Guilt,” if liberal democracy does trap or jail you (politically speaking), it also invariably slips the key under your cell door. The Swedish midwives driven out of the profession over their pro-life views can take their story to the media. The Down syndrome advocacy outfit whose anti-eugenic advertising was censored in France can sue in national and then international courts. The Little Sisters of the Poor can appeal to the Supreme Court for a conscience exemption to Obamacare’s contraceptives mandate. And so on.
This is a hugely important point, and there’s an urgent need for more people to understand it. A free society is a rich ecosystem of competing institutions. Some are powerful, some weak. Some have great influence in a specific sphere of life: the American Bar Association, the military, the Catholic Church, whatever. Some only have power in a certain place: the county zoning board, the local police, your parents, etc. But none have unchecked power over the whole of the society and, thanks to the Constitution, that goes for the government itself, too.
A free society is a honeycomb of safe havens, competing authorities — legal, moral, cultural — that allow for people to find safe harbors from other institutionsibid
And the hoaxes often get rewarded, at least for a while. And it’s rare to see one punished.
Goldberg wanders into economics. But what is economics except the organized study of how people respond to incentives?
A truism of economics is that you get more of what you subsidize and less of what you tax. I have no quarrel with that. But it seems to me we don’t think enough about how this principle applies to areas we see as outside of economics.
For instance, contrary to what one hears in the left-wing punditsphere, there’s a high cultural penalty — a tax, if you will — on open racism, which is one reason there is so much less of it today.Already, I can hear throats clearing to say “Oh yeah, what price has Donald Trump paid!!!?!?!” Well, leaving aside the merits of the cases for and against the claim that Donald Trump is a racist, it’s transparently obvious that he’s paid a political price for the perception that he is one. The reflexive opposition to Trump by many of the media outlets from which he craves approval is driven in no small part by the widespread liberal assumption that he’s a bigot of one kind or another. Similarly, he’s almost surely paid a price among many independent and moderate voters, including the millions who voted for both Trump and Obama, because of how he’s perceived, fairly or not.
But my point here isn’t to talk about Trump, but to check the box so I don’t have to talk about him further.
The sort of racism Smollett manufactured has never been lower in the United States, but rather than celebrate or express gratitude for this incontestable fact, people look for proof it’s worse than ever. Bereft of giants to slay, they construct windmills and pretend they are heroes for levelling their lances at them. Like the elders of Salem, they mistake their quiet hysteria for sober reality and believe every tale of witches beyond the tree line. On the principle that some things have to be believed to be seen, wearing a blanket at Oberlin is all the proof one needs for a moral panic over the invading armies of the Klan, just as the splash of a dolphin’s tale was proof of mermaids for horny sailors centuries ago.
Hoaxes and hysteria-fueled misinterpretations are common on the left because a certain kind of pity and hate has become institutionalized, monetized, and sacralized. But while pity and hate take a certain recognizable, custom-made form on the left — call it bespoke woke — the left doesn’t have a monopoly on the larger phenomenon. Donald Trump demands pity almost daily, and he gets it. And the pitiers get their opportunities for hatred, too. Christopher Hasson is an exceptional case, but only because he took the rhetoric of pity and hate duopoly to an extreme conclusion.
So I’ll leave with this depressing prediction. Obviously more Smollett-style hoaxes are coming. If the negative attention heaped on mass shooters is enough to inspire other losers to commit that kind of evil, it’s easy to imagine that the attention Smollett has gotten will inspire losers to do likewise. But that’s not my prediction. There will be a hoax involving MAGA hats, but the fake victims will be those wearing them. We already saw the hunger for this kind of thing in the Covington case — but those kids were in fact victims. President Trump invited that kid named Trump to the State of the Union precisely because he wanted to exploit this great reservoir of pity. And the coverage of this legitimate outrage will no doubt encourage others to get a piece of that on the cheap.
So mark my words, some loser, desperate to be lionized by Candace Owens or applauded at CPAC, will manufacture some story of victimhood that will ignite a bonfire of outrage on the right and a riot of sympathy about MAGA persecution. The mainstream media will suddenly remember the professional integrity it forgot in the Smollett case and debunk it. But before then, the pitiables of the right will claim victimhood by proxy and denounce the insensitivity of an uncaring media that hates them. The roles will be reversed, but the script will be the same, and the actors will all yell just a little bit louder, as the snake ups the tempo of its own repast.ibid