Regular readers of this blog know that one of my themes is the consistency with which everyday people prove ourselves to be more sensible, responsible and better behaved than those who’ve appointed themselves our betters. Millennia of monarchs, monarchists and all-purpose elitists, including some of the Founding Fathers of this country disagree with me, but, at least recently, the facts bear me out.
All those took it as an article of faith that everyone who was not Them would, if given sufficient information, freedom and power, run amok. The masses, it was assumed, were governed, not by reason (like elites), but by their passions which were everywhere and always to be distrusted and held in check (by elites). In past posts, I’ve quoted Lord Palmerston to that effect. Madison certainly thought it of Hamilton.
The latest evidence for my proposition comes from Pew Research that, in October of 2021, surveyed black Americans on a variety of topics. For my purposes here, Pew’s most interesting question was what respondents considered the most important issue facing them and their communities. Survey subjects were free to give any response they wished and what they said was telling, not only about the state of black lives in the U.S. in 2021, but about the present state of public discourse.
To them, the most important issue is crime; 17% said it topped their list. Second place went to “economic” issues with 11% and third to housing at 7%. As an aside, “economic” issues didn’t include employment or jobs, since that was a separate category that took tenth place with just 3% of respondents calling it their most important issue.
Racism? That finished a dismal ninth (out of 10) with just 3% calling it most important. That of course is not to say that blacks generally don’t find racism a vital issue, only that its importance falls far behind that of crime, violence, inflation, etc. Interestingly, more respondents (4%) said there were no important issues facing them than listed racism.
Needless to say, we’d never know this from the news. Since George Floyd’s murder, we’ve heard a steady drumbeat of opinions to the effect that (a) white anti-black racism in the U.S. is rampant, (b) the police are an ever-present threat to black lives and (c) (b) is a major aspect of (a). No less a personage than Lebron James informed us that “Black men, black women, black kids - we are terrified, cuz we don’t know, we have no idea how that cop that day left the house. You don’t know if he woke up on the wrong side of the bed. You don’t know if he left the house sayin’… this day is gonna be the end for one of these black people.”
The salient point is not that we should consider a professional basketball player the last word on race and policing in the United States, but that his opinions on the matter so accurately reflect those of progressives and the leftist press. Scour the MSM and find the message that police slayings of black people are actually quite rare and almost never without obvious justification. Go ahead, I dare you.
Plus, as the Pew survey so aptly demonstrates, the narrative that what blacks should fear is the police is utterly at odds with the lived experiences of black Americans. Blacks who call crime in their communities their Number 1 concern are not likely to also call for defunding the police or having fewer cops patrol those communities. And in fact they don’t. A Gallup poll in 2020 found that a whopping 81% of black Americans want the police presence in their communities either increased or maintained as is. Those aren’t the opinions of people who are “terrified” of the police.
And finally, those attitudes of black people, and not the opinions so often spouted by progressives and the leftist press, accurately reflect the factual realities they face. The most casual Google stroll through the data on crime and police shootings tells the tale - black communities are especially dangerous and it is almost exclusively black non-cops who pose the danger.
So, for example, in 2020, the homicide victimization rate for black Americans was about 24.1/100,000 residents. That’s based on 9,913 black homicide victims and about 41 million black Americans. By contrast, out of about 240 million whites (excluding white Hispanics), some 7,029 were homicide victims, for a rate of 2.9/100,000, i.e., less than one-eighth the black rate.
And more than 90% of those black victims were killed by another black. As former Spelman College president, Johnetta Cole told journalist Jason Riley about her numerous talks with black women, “One of the most painful admissions I hear is: I am afraid of my own people,” a sentiment reflected in the Pew Survey.
Unlike progressive elites and their mouthpieces in the news media, everyday black people actually know what their lives consist of, what they value and what they need. What they’re terrified of is a stray bullet flying through their window and taking their life or that of their child. What they know is that that bullet wasn’t fired by a cop, but by one of the gang-bangers who make their streets a war zone.
They know that and much, much more. What policy makers need to learn is to start listening to them and ignoring the woke ideology that seems never to fit the facts and is so inimical to black well-being.