All posts filed under: Crime

Charles Murray’s ‘Facing Reality’—A Review

A review of Facing Reality: Two Truths about Race in America by Charles Murray. Encounter Books, 168 pages. (June, 2021) I’ve known about Charles Murray since 1994, when I was a voracious and unsupervised teen reader in rural Oregon grabbing the library’s latest issue of the New Republic the instant it was shelved. It was here that I stumbled upon the shocking views Murray and Richard J. Herrnstein expressed in The Bell Curve about race, class, and inequality in America. I didn’t give those views much deep thought at the time, and so my perception of Murray and his ideas hewed more or less to the dismissive conventional wisdom. It wasn’t until I read a 1998 essay in Commentary magazine by Christopher Chabris that I began to reconsider. Chabris argued that the media furor around The Bell Curve obscured more than it illuminated, and that the consensus among psychologists on the importance of intelligence to life outcomes was indeed close to what Murray and Herrnstein had asserted. To my surprise, in the 21st century, my relationship …

Are Activists Protecting Asians from Hate—or Protecting Their Narrative of White Supremacy from Criticism?

Asia Society, the global NGO dedicated to “forging closer ties between Asia and the West through arts, education, policy and business,” recently shared a video in which activist Manjusha P. Kulkarni spoke about anti-Asian attacks in the United States. Kulkarni, whose own group self-describes as a “national coalition addressing anti-Asian hate amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” emphasised that anti-black bigotry was causing people to falsely attribute these anti-Asian attacks to African American perpetrators: And I will tell you that while we don’t collect ethnic specific data on perpetrators … we know that it is a very small minority that are African-American. And in fact, when we look at these broader types of discrimination, the ones that involve civil-rights violations, of course, we know that those are institutional actors, heads of businesses, et cetera, and that these are the folks who often, because of positions of power that they are in, are actually white. .@StopAAPIHate co-founder @KulkarniManju discusses the “white adjacency” of Asians and Asian Americans, anti-Blackness, and the misleading trope of the Black perpetrator. Watch the …

When Will Activists (and the Media) Get Honest About Police Shootings?

Minutes before Derek Chauvin was convicted on all three counts of murder and manslaughter, Ma’Khia Bryant, a black teenage girl in Columbus, Ohio, was shot dead by police. Almost immediately, enraged protestors gathered outside police headquarters. “Say Her Name!” they chanted. The New York Times reported that the girl’s grieving mother, Paula Bryant, had told WBNS that her daughter was “a very loving, peaceful little girl.” In an attempt to correct a tendentious version of events immediately promoted by civil rights attorney Ben Crump (and uncritically repeated by the Times) in which the young victim was described as unarmed, the Columbus police department took the unusual step of releasing the officer’s body-worn camera video the same day. During a briefing at which the footage was exhibited for the press, police played the video twice, the second time in slow motion—because events on the ground escalated with such rapidity that it’s the only way to follow what happened: The police officer gets out of his squad car and approaches a group of people milling about in …

The Ugly History of Rape Panics

The abduction and murder of Sarah Everard in London on March 3rd created a wave of outrage and protest. It is easy to understand why a crime like this would generate reflexive disgust, but less straightforward to explain why society chooses to focus so intently on a small minority of crimes like these, while largely ignoring the majority. In this case, the answer partly lies with the identity of both victim and perpetrator, which fit neatly into prevailing activist narratives. The worrying slide of British society (including much of the mainstream media) into tribalistic, identity-based thinking has led repeatedly to episodes of selective outrage. But such moments are dangerous for civil liberties, and inevitably provide activists and opportunists with an opportunity to advance self-serving and authoritarian political agendas. The first time I remember encountering an identity narrative was in my teens. I was leaving school with a friend, and we bumped into two older boys, who stopped us and asked if we were interested in joining the National Front. My friend and I were both …

Rinaldo Walcott’s On Property—A Review

A review of On Property by Rinaldo Walcott. Biblioasis, 96 pages (May 25th, 2021) The true founder of civil society was the first man who, having enclosed a piece of land, thought of saying, “This is mine,” and came across people simple enough to believe him. How many crimes, wars, murders and how much misery and horror the human race might have been spared if someone had pulled up the stakes or filled in the ditch, and cried out to his fellows: “Beware of listening to this charlatan. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and that the earth itself belongs to no one!” Even if most sober-minded readers might dismiss Rousseau’s counter-factual history as a symptom of a dangerous utopianism, his critique of private property has fired the imaginations of radical thinkers and activists since before the French Revolution. While Rousseau himself did not believe we could return to a propertyless state as the “solution” to modernity’s problems, his view of history as a “fall” from …

Black Lives Matter, So Refund the Police

During the summer of 2020, following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, it was easier to count how many cities didn’t have Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests than to count the ones that did. Metropolitan areas across the United States, and the world, saw massive turnouts protesting police violence against African Americans, and the movement received endorsements from a number of corporations, all pledging to do their part to combat racism. It didn’t take long for BLM activists and supporters to capitalize on this newfound popularity, quickly adopting what former President Obama called a “snappy” but “counterproductive” slogan for their supporters to shout in the streets and on social media: “Defund the Police.” This new rallying cry became the subject of much debate, and the source of much confusion. Many observers remain unsure what the practical application of defunding the police entails. Although some hope that one day the police will be completely abolished, the majority of those calling to defund the police say they want to reallocate police funding to social programs …

‘Allen v. Farrow’: Intellectually Dishonest Propaganda Meets Emotional Blackmail

Two days before the February 23rd premiere of Allen v. Farrow, the four-part HBO documentary exploring the child sexual abuse allegations against the famed filmmaker, the Los Angeles Times ran a review by television critic Lorraine Ali under a headline proclaiming it “the nail in the coffin of Woody Allen’s legacy.” This no doubt describes one of the goals of the documentary, which was made by directors Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick and producer/investigative journalist Amy Herdy as both a brief for the prosecution and a Farrow family hagiography. Ali and other sympathetic reviewers have described it as “devastating,” “horrifying,” and “damning.” And indeed, the documentary, whose final episode aired March 14th, may well sway casual viewers who are unaware of what it leaves out. But it is very unlikely to change any minds among those who have followed the case. Before I discuss the film, a word about the story behind this article, which was originally supposed to run in late February. Like other interested journalists, I had requested—and was promised—access to an advance …

Race and False Hate Crime Narratives

The reaction to the mass shootings in Boulder, Colorado, and Atlanta, Georgia, over the last week has revealed how invested the Democratic establishment is in one all-powerful narrative. Both shootings produced an immediate response from the media, Democratic politicians, and activists—that the slaughters were the result of white supremacy and that white Americans are the biggest threat facing the US. That interpretation was reached, in the case of the Boulder shooting, on the slimmest of evidence, and in the case of the Atlanta shooting, in the face of contradictory facts. After the Boulder supermarket attacks, social media lit up with gloating pronouncements that the shooter was a violent white male and part of what Vice President Kamala Harris’s niece declared (in a since-deleted tweet) to be the “greatest terrorist threat to our country.” (Video of the handcuffed shooter being led away by the police appeared to show a white male.) Now that the shooter’s identity has been revealed as Syrian-American and his tirades against the “Islamophobia industry” unearthed, that line of thought has been quietly …

Leaving Portland

Portland, Oregon, has been the most politically violent city in the United States since Donald Trump was elected in 2016. Just a few days after the result, a peaceful protest against the incoming president turned into a riot when anarchists broke off from the main group and rampaged through the Pearl District, a renovated SoHo-like neighborhood adjacent to downtown packed with art galleries, loft apartments, bookstores, and restaurants. Vandals used baseball bats and rocks to break cars, plate glass windows, bus shelters, electrical boxes, and anything else that looked smashable. The election-night mayhem was not an attack against Republican voters. Donald Trump received a paltry 7.5 percent of the vote in that precinct. It was an assault on the urban middle class and bourgeois society itself, and it was perceived as such by most people who lived there. (The protest organizers, not incidentally, raised tens of thousands of dollars on GoFundMe and disbursed checks to damaged businesses.) I was born and raised in Oregon, and it’s where I live now. I spent most of my …

Growing Up Without a Father-Figure Can Make Boys Less Violent

One of the more contentious issues is whether or not there is a link between female single-parent households and violent crime. As the homicide spike began in late spring 2020, Katy Faust and Stacy Manning claimed that an important source of criminality is children being raised without a father-figure in the home. They wrote: Regardless of their race, children who grow up without dads, especially boys, are more likely to commit violent crime. Fathers teach children… vital lessons… to police themselves through rough-and-tumble play, straight talk, and a disciplinary style inclined toward getting kids to take responsibility for their actions. While there is likely a modest link between violent crime and single parenting, Faust and Manning are wrong about the benefits of a father-figure. The liberal rejection of any link is longstanding. In an influential Atlantic article, economist Philip Cohen presented charts that showed how over a 20-year period there was no positive correlation between children living in female–headed households and violent crime rates; indeed they often went in opposite directions. In response, Kay Hymowitz …