I guess itâ€™s probably just my white privilege talking, but I was never very interested and never wrote a lot about racism and racial issues. As a honkey, born and raised in not just a mono-racial but virtually a mono-ethnic country, what would I know? Not being a person of any particular colour or hue in multiethnic and multicultural Australia, Iâ€™ve never experienced any prejudice, so again, what would I know? Still, everyone and their dog are writing about Dallas at the moment, so here are a few thoughts:
1) Does racism exist? Sure. But itâ€™s not confined to any particular race, ethnicity or group. Many on the harder left would have you believe that racism is about power, ergo, the whites who have power in society are racist, while all the non-white minorities who do not have power cannot therefore be racist. I call this argument by its scientific designation â€œbullshitâ€. Being prejudiced against or antagonistic towards someone based on that someoneâ€™s racial or ethnic background has nothing to do with whether youâ€™re powerful or powerless, rich or poor, white or black. There is white racism, there is black racism and there is everything in between racism. You only have to do a little travel around the world, even better slightly off the beaten track, to realise how â€“ sadly â€“ universal hatred, disdain and distrust of the other is. To pretend otherwise is absurd, and itâ€™s also not helpful.
2) I would be more sympathetic toward the Black Lives Matter movement if it was All Black Lives Matter and not only Some Black Lives Matter. An overwhelming majority of African-Americans are killed by other African-Americans, often in a criminal or gang-related settings. Of the 433 homicide victims in Chicago last year, for example, 75 per cent were black (and 19 per cent Hispanic), as were 71 per cent (and 25 per cent) perpetrators (African-Americans make up 33 per cent of Chicago population). Many of the American inner cities are war zones, nota bene all of them controlled by the Democratic Party machines, and no one organises marches, stages sit-ins and comes up with great hashtags. Itâ€™s far easier to concentrate on the few controversial cases involving police. This is the real tragedy in America today.
3) But it is only a subset of a greater tragedy of the African-Americans being grossly over-represented all throughout the criminal justice system. At 13 per cent of the general American population, as John Hinderaker of Powerline blog writes,
It is common knowledge that blacks have an unusually high rate of contact with the police, both as victims and as perpetrators. In 2012-2013, the Department of Justice found that blacks were the perpetrators of 24% of all violent crimes where the race of the perpetrator was known (in 7.8% of violent crimes, it was unknown).
Last year, African-Americans also constituted 26 per cent of those shot by the police. A recent study from the Washington State University has found that â€œeven with white officers who do have racial biases, officers are three times less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects than unarmed white suspects.â€ Other studies suggest that itâ€™s the minority police officers who are far likelier than white officers to shoot minority suspects.
Why are so many African-Americans in trouble with the law? Pick your favourite explanation, or a combination of, from along the political spectrum: racism, discrimination, poverty, lack of opportunity, family breakdown, welfare, culture. While a possibly wrongful police shooting from time to time will generate massive publicity, in the end this massive silent epidemic of crime, where black Americans are both the perpetrators and in many cases the victims, that is the real tragedy and the real challenge for the politicians and the society. You can protest however much you want, but even if police are a problem, itâ€™s a drop in an ocean of woe.