Thursday, August 22, 2013

Race, Crime and Statistical Malpractice: How the Right Manipulates White Fear with Bogus Data

As soon as news began to spread about the horrific and utterly senseless murder of an Australian-born baseball player in Oklahoma at the hands of three young black males (or at least, that’s how they were first described in the media), I knew what would be coming; specifically, into my e-mail inbox and all around the internet. And even though one of the three implicated in the killing is actually white, and so the supposed racial angle of the crime is incredibly convoluted, if indeed race had anything to do with it at all, I had no illusions that this would somehow change the reaction from certain quarters. Whenever something like this happens, white supremacist groups make sure to blanket the web with vitriol in which they seek to remind white folks how endangered we are at the hands of black people. Knowing that many whites are anxious about the changing demographics of the nation — which portend that around 2043 we will no longer be the absolute majority of persons in the U.S — playing upon fears of criminal victimization by people of color is seen as a great way to win new recruits to the white nationalist cause.

And sure enough, it didn’t take long. As soon as I turned on my computer yesterday morning, there it was: an e-mail from an angry and rather blatantly racist white male, spouting all the same nonsense as I’ve come to expect in moments like this. More savvy than most though, he made sure not to rely on data and arguments from neo-Nazis, but rather from well-known black conservative Walter Williams, who just about a week ago penned a column in which he parroted the line of the white racists, inveighing against the supposed epidemic of black-on-white crime. For Williams, it wasn’t the first time he had done this. Several years back, and taking his cues and information straight from the work of white supremacist and separatist Jared Taylor, he had made the same arguments.

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