Do "Conservatives" Suffer from "Race Deafness?" The American Conservative Thinks So

Jack Kerwick
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Posted: Jan 08, 2015 12:01 AM
Do "Conservatives" Suffer from "Race Deafness?" The American Conservative Thinks So

Jack Hunter is a former staffer for Rand Paul who once delivered politically incorrect commentary as “the Southern Avenger.” When Hunter’s past came to light, it wasn’t before long that he and Senator Paul parted ways.

Ever since—perhaps in the hope that the “respectable” will forgive him his transgressions before the 2016 GOP presidential primaries?—Hunter has been relentless in his quest for redemption.

In “The Right’s Race Deafness,” published in The American Conservative, Hunter castigates “conservatives” for “just not caring what black people think” vis-à-vis the issue of law enforcement and race. Given “the right’s” reactions to the “racism” narrative that has sprung up around the Michael Brown and Eric Garner incidents, Hunter admits to suspecting that “many and perhaps most conservatives” think that “part of being conservative” is to “simply ignore minority criticism.”

Numerous polls, Hunter insists, show that “strong majorities of black Americans”—including black police officers—have consistently said that race plays a role in how law enforcement is applied and how the justice system is conducted in the United States.”

And statistical data reveal to all with eyes to see just how disproportionately blacks are involved in the criminal justice system.

Conservatives, he bluntly asserts, “need to listen” to blacks, for it seems like “the right thinks African Americans don’t have a point, an argument, or even a side worth considering when it comes to these controversies.”

It is Hunter who doesn’t have an argument—or at least not a strong one.

When it is said that blacks claim to hold that “race plays a role” in law enforcement, etc. what is being said is that “racism” is at work. Yet these two claims are anything but mutually synonymous—and Hunter knows it. Whatever “racism” means, to judge from the fate of those to whom it is ascribed, it must be really bad. Yet allowing race to play a role in a decision-making process—like marriage, say—is hardly objectionable.

None of the “conservatives” on whom Hunter sets his sights have ever denied that race is a consideration in policing. Hunter must know this as well, for it is these very same “conservatives”—white, black, and other—who have argued tirelessly in defense of “racial profiling”—a practice rooted in the reality of black criminality to which Hunter himself alludes.

So, his claim that “conservatives” seem to delight in ignoring blacks is absurd on its face: Not only do they not ignore blacks on this score; they agree with them!

But they disagree with the contention that “racism,” some nefarious force or motive, accounts for any of this.

Now, one doesn’t need to enroll in a Logic 101 course to know that it is logically impossible to simultaneously disagree with someone while ignoring them. To disagree with a person is to acknowledge that he’s said something. Only if Hunter means to make the preposterous move of equating “ignores” with “disagrees with” can he sustain his case.

As for his statistics, even though they are without context, what they suggest is that race does indeed play a role in law enforcement practices, and for good reason: blacks are far more likely than whites and every other racial demographic to be involved in crime! As black, “conservative” commentator Larry Elder writes: “The first rule of duck hunting is: go where the ducks are.”

The difference, though, between Hunter and Elder, the “Sage from South Central” (Los Angeles), is that the latter knows the difference between cause and effect: blacks are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated not because police take race into account; police take race into account because blacks are overwhelmingly represented among criminals.

There are other stats that Hunter neglects to mention. Elder informs us that it is “usually young black men” who “commit nearly half of all street crime, and most of certain other categories of crime such as robbery” (italics added). Moreover, though young black men constitute at most 3 percent of America, they are responsible for “nearly 40 percent of violent crimes” like “murder, attempted murder, nonnegligent manslaughter, and aggravated assault [.]”

Walter Williams, another black “conservative” writer, once remarked that if “we ignored inner-city violent crime, mostly committed by blacks and Hispanics, America would be a fairly civilized place.” Citing a study conducted by a Princeton University political scientist professor, Williams wrote that while “blacks are 20 percent of the general population of the nation’s seventy-five most populous urban counties,” blacks “were 54 percent of murder victims and 62 percent of all murder defendants.”

“In Pennsylvania,” Williams continued, “42 percent of the state’s violent crimes” occur “in Philadelphia, which contains only 14 percent of the state’s population,” and most of these crimes transpire “in several predominantly black neighborhoods.”

I met Jack Hunter once. He seemed like a guy both friendly and bright. Yet this piece of his is scandalously bad even by fluff standards. I have my suspicions as to why he wrote it. Rather than elaborate further, though, I will simply warn him that condescension is no substitute for argumentation.

And even when it is “conservatives” whom you target, you are most definitely not going to ingratiate yourself into the graces the leftist inquisitors who have already cast you out of “polite society.”