Jewish World Review April 23, 1999 /7 Iyar 5759
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Monica's gone, impeachment and trial over with, the Jon-Benet Ramsey mystery dormant. Oh, sure, there's the occasional O.J. flare-up, but, for the most part, until Kosovo came along, one could almost hear the sound of the media begging, "More firewood, please."
But wait a second. Look at these crime stats. Hmm, looks like blacks get busted more often than whites. This appears to the trained eye like a clear-cut case of racism. Driving while black. Race "profiling." Gentlemen, start your laptops!
Does this emotionally driven, factually devoid brand of journalism sound familiar? Sure, it does. Remember the "epidemic" of arson against black churches? USA Today and many other prominent newspapers bombarded us with stories about the "epidemic," "rash," "scourge" -- pick one -- of the burning of black Southern churches. The bigots are back, the bigots are back!
Soon, public service announcements popped up, urging citizens to dig deep and help rebuild those black churches. Just when you thought you had the bigots on the run, they're ba-a-ack. Little buggers are more tenacious than a Serb under a NATO air attack.
But, uh-oh, iceberg ahead. Turns out the story was bogus. Not only was there no increase of racially motivated burnings of black churches, but church burnings are dramatically down since 1980! By 63 percent! In fact, more mosques, synagogues and white churches have been burned in recent years than black churches.
But for our race-tinted guys and gals in the media, it only got worse. Nearly a third of those arrested for burning black churches turned out to be ... black. USA Today prominently featured the burning of a black Texas church. Authorities suspected bigotry. But the cops later busted one of the firefighters summoned to put out the fire. That's right. A firefighter set the fire and later had the nerve to respond to a call to help put it out.
And he was black. USA Today gave the arrest of the suspect only a fraction of the coverage given the initial burning.
Which brings us back to today's accusation: reckless, out-of-control cops who "racially profile." In New York, the cops beat a Haitian man. And later, the police shot, numerous times, an unarmed black immigrant. Based on media reports, the New York cops seemed Gestapo-like. But then, there's that troubling thing called data. Where is it? What supports the contention that police brutality against minorities is widespread and on the increase? In the last three years, New York Police Department shootings actually decreased by a third. And fatal police shootings are down by nearly 50 percent. It wasn't police brutality that caused New York crime to go down.
The fact remains that a small number of minorities commit a disproportionately large amount of crime. It stands to reason that more from this "high-risk group" will be stopped, questioned and arrested, for the most part with good cause. Are cops guilty of "gender profiling" because cops target and arrest more men than women? Did the Rev. Jesse Jackson "racially profile" when he once said, "There is nothing more painful for me than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start to think about robbery, and then see it's somebody white and feel relieved."
Do we really want cops to spend less time in high-crime areas and more time in low-crime ones? Don't trout fishermen go where the trout are?
And let's not forget: Arrests protect other people, you know. The victims of urban crime remain urban dwellers.
Some lawmakers want to require officers to keep detailed information about the race or ethnicity of persons stopped. Police departments, irritated at the guilt-by-badge accusations, resist. Fellows, don't fight it. Tell 'em, "Go ahead, make my day." Keep the data. Remember, you work for the public.
Your "customers" demand this information. So, give it to them. Then what? What will the screamers do when the data fail to show a pattern of discrimination and do show that most stops and searches are justified?
And remember the president's executive order directing a study on "environmental racism," the allegation that the government puts toxic dump sites near minority communities? According to the Detroit News, the government failed to find environmental racism. And never released the study! In fact, Jared Taylor writes in "Paved With Good Intentions," that whites are more likely to live near toxic waste sites than blacks. He called environmental racism an "utterly spurious charge."
The pigs-are-coming argument does not wash. The search-for-the-great-white-bigot crowd, as usual, ignores the real problems: irresponsible breeding, irresponsible parenting, bad schools, crime. But as long as they have a cop to kick around, they'll kick.
Until they need
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