By Davis Carlton
Joel McDurmon has recently decided to address crime statistics in the wake of the George Floyd race riots. Joel is disappointed that so many conservatives have used crime statistics as a means of discrediting the Black Lives Matter movement or to possibly assuage their obvious and undeniable guilt as privileged whites. On June 3 McDurmon posted an article attempting to address an infographic that is making the rounds on social media. McDurmon essentially gives away the farm at the very beginning of his response. He writes: “It’s all damaging propaganda. On the surface of it, in the simplistic, abstract way they are the presented, the stats are real. Overall, blacks do commit more crimes against whites than whites commit against blacks; and given that they are a smaller proportion of the population, the crime rate is even higher for blacks against whites.”
Okay, game over right? By acknowledging that the actual crime statistics are true McDurmon has to also acknowledge that they undermine the narrative of rampant black victimization and “systemic racism” and the like, doesn’t he? Turns out he doesn’t, because as Joel explains, sometimes even reality itself can be racist! Besides, these statistics, while admittedly true don’t take into account poverty. Let Joel educate you!
“To begin with, one single variable changes everything: poverty, or disadvantage. When you control for poverty rates, these numbers even out (indeed, less disadvantaged black neighborhoods have less crime that extremely disadvantaged white neighborhoods). Disadvantaged whites commit the same rates of crime as blacks. It just so happens that blacks are in general far more affected by poverty and disadvantage than whites in general. That is where the issue gets real. We are left asking the underlying question: why are blacks in poverty or extreme disadvantage disproportionately?”
Hold on a second; do you suppose Joel has any evidence for the assertion that “disadvantaged whites commit the same rates of crime as blacks” or that poverty is the primary determinant of criminality? Of course he doesn’t, and this is a textbook example of ipse dixit in which McDurmon expects his readers take his word for his baseless assertions. The correlation between poverty and criminality has actually been studied extensively, and they don’t look good for McDurmon’s position. Contrary to McDurmon’s unsubstantiated opinion crime rates have little to do with poverty. Appalachia provides an excellent case study because the region shows high poverty rates among the white “hillbillies” but crime rates are half the national average, exactly the opposite of what we would expect if McDurmon was telling the truth. Various metrics can be used to measure criminality like population density and economic status, but race is and remains the best predictor of crime rates.
McDurmon continues by offering statistics from John Reasnor, which he states will later be published in greater detail which suggests that blacks are treated unjustly by police and the criminal justice system. These statistics are flawed because they do not take into account the racial disparity in crime rates that McDurmon is supposed to be addressing; a glaring omission indeed. It should be obvious to anyone without bias or agenda that it’s necessary to consider crime rates against arrest rates before determining if blacks are unjustly discriminated against. Jared Taylor has recently provided helpful analysis on this question, and Heather MacDonald has thoroughly debunked the idea that the criminal justice system is biased against blacks or that higher rates of black imprisonment are the result of anti-black bigotry. If Reasnor and McDurmon want to contest these conclusions they are welcome to do so, but ignoring relevant data and making unsubstantiated assertions will not convince anyone who actually cares about the truth.
Joel attempts to dismiss purveyors of reality as simply motivated by racism and bigotry – a Leftist tactic if there ever was one. McDurmon writes: “But of course, the details that are not related in memes like this are the most important part. Likewise, the people who compiled such memes and the reasons some organizations perpetuate them is also a huge part of the story. In short, they are bona fide racists.”
Gasp! What more evidence do you need to see that those posting crime statistics are wrong! McDurmon makes a meager attempt to claim that higher black crime rates are the results of the history of oppression by posting a treatise courtesy of the Southern Poverty Law Center without the slightest hint of irony. If McDurmon can simply reject the validity of crime statistics because of their “racist” sources why can’t anyone else simply dismiss the SPLC for the communist bastards they are? The fact that a professed Christian, not to mention a theonomist would take a cultural Marxist scam like the SPLC seriously on any issue simply boggles the mind!
Nevertheless, because I’m apparently a masochist I perused the SPLC post that McDurmon recommended to see if any valid points were made. There simply isn’t much there of any actual substance. Like McDurmon, the SPLC makes numerous unsubstantiated assertions and takes black activists like W.E.B. DuBois and Ida Wells at their word while gratuitously labeling their ideological opponents “racists.” The assertions of white nationalists and/or race realists are casually dismissed in typical liberal, “wow, just wow” fashion. For example, we are told that race isn’t a valid biological concept, and we know this because these certain luminaries who you should definitely trust tell us so. Any actual evidence for the reality of race is simply swept away as the legacy of hatred and bigotry.1
Joel McDurmon isn’t merely wrong about questions of statistical analysis. McDurmon’s fundamentally dishonest rhetoric has the goal of blame-shifting by ascribing the problems among blacks to white oppression and system injustice. Look at what he has to say about those who dare to draw politically incorrect conclusions from looking at the relevant statistics: “[M]any people are tempted to make the same assumptions they do when they first see the bare stats-meme. There must be something inherently or even genetically wrong with blacks. They are inferior. They are violent, hyper-criminal, and hyper-sexual by nature, somehow. ‘I mean, I am not a racist, but look at these stats!’ Likewise, blacks are assumed, and often stated, to be shiftless, thieving, addicted, lazy, grifters and pilferers, fatherless, etc. That is why they in poverty and disadvantage—it is entirely their fault. So it is said—sometimes openly.”
How could anyone draw such hideous conclusions unless they were “racists” who simply hate black people? I don’t suppose that it’s possible to quantify rates of theft, welfare dependency, or illegitimacy, is it Joel? Perhaps these aren’t mere assumptions at all, but also based in reality every bit as much as the crime statistics that McDurmon casually dismisses. In a follow up article McDurmon argues that those who draw “racist” conclusions from crime statistics are seeking to “demonize” blacks in a manner commensurate with Nazi propaganda! McDurmon provides stats that are supposed to be about blacks, but later reveals that they are actually stats about Jews from the propaganda film, The Eternal Jew! This is a pathetic reduction ad Hitlerum argument in which McDurmon seeks to undermine any politically incorrect usage of statistics by associating them with Hitler. I suppose that the Apostle Paul’s generalizations about the Cretans in Titus 1:10-13 would have crossed over into full-blown Nazism if he had only cited some specific statistics to confirm his point.
McDurmon concludes that it is never appropriate to use even accurate statistics in order to cast generalized judgments. “Even if the stats were accurate, it would not justify either the spirit of fear and derision, or the castigation of any given individual as if those stats pertained to them—despite their appearance or race. Yet the use of crime statistics, specifically, was a prime piece of evidence used to turn the hearts of an entire nation against a race. It’s a powerful force, and it has had undeniably powerful effects.”
Hopefully that clears everything up. The statistics being passed around aren’t so much inaccurate as they are irrelevant because those who compiled them are guilty of the sin of noticing. So are you for reposting them, you racist! In fact, you’re probably just like Dylann Roof who used race realism as a pretext to commit mass murder! McDurmon concludes: “If we don’t love the Samaritan, we don’t love our neighbor. It’s that simple. The moment we start down the other road, we start to imbibe this demonizing spirit of the Nazi. You need to assess whether you’ve started down that road or not, and if so, how far.”
McDurmon’s problem isn’t that he dismisses relevant statistics or doesn’t believe that it’s appropriate to make generalized judgments. This is certainly problematic, but the root of the problem is far more foundational. The issue of black criminality and violence certainly is a problem; no one is denying that, but McDurmon is more than just a bit reticent to assign blame to blacks for their own behavior. McDurmon’s approach is to tacitly blame white people and American society in general for the problems and misdeeds of blacks. Why else would he post statistics that indicate higher arrest rates for blacks if not to argue that this represents unjust oppression? For Marxists like McDurmon, the problems of any particular underclass must be ascribed to some ubiquitous albeit almost immeasurable “privilege” which is enforced through systemic injustices. This is fundamentally a rejection of Christian justice at its very core.
McDurmon expresses concern that blacks are unjustly demonized when people point out the disproportionate crime rates among blacks but this isn’t what’s happening at all. Those citing these statistics are doing so in order to debunk the Leftist/Marxist narrative that blacks are unjustly oppressed and have a legitimate complaint about being targeted by police. How these problems are to be solved is another question entirely. Some non-Christian white nationalists may indeed see the problem as entirely material or genetic.
Dylann Roof seems to have adopted this thinking himself, but Roof’s own crime doesn’t de-legitimize the proper usage of statistical probabilities when assessing reality. We can analyze Roof’s complaints and even acknowledge where he was right even if we conclude that his methods were unjustified and heinous. I certainly condemned John Earnest when he made a similarly hasty and bad decision, but there is no evidence that having a realistic understanding of violence leads to more violence. McDurmon’s invocation of Hitler and Dylann Roof is a blame-shifting tactic in order to shame normal-thinking people into accepting a guilt that is not their own.
What is a true Christian response to the problems in the black community? The answer lies in Paul’s counsel to Titus who pulled no punches in identifying the pervasive problems of sin in Cretan society. The Apostle Paul wasn’t afraid to make generalizations and there is no reason that we should be afraid to do so today. The issues of within the black community stem from sinful rebellion against their Creator that manifest in envy for what others possess and violence towards those who possess what they do not have. Many of the problems within the black community are common to those raised in broken, single-parent homes. The solution is to call out sin and preach repentance and conversion. McDurmon’s pandering by supporting a false narrative hinders progress for genuine reconciliation, and his attempts to shift blame to white people and “oppression” are truly pathetic.
1 Another example is the treatment of Charles Murray and Richard Hernstein’s The Bell Curve about the heritability of intelligence and its variability by race. Murray and Hernstein are categorically dismissed without any counter-argument of substance by suggesting that we ought to simply take the word of mainstream academia and believe that intelligence isn’t heritable but rather the product of several different factors. Of course, heritability doesn’t preclude multiple factors determining the expression of any number of traits, only that a certain percentage of variability of a given trait is genetically determined. Murray and Hernstein use basic methods of determining genetic heritability such as twin concordance studies and other methods which take into account similarities and differences in environmental factors. To simply deny their methods with no more than hand-waving would amount to dismissing all the data used to determine heritability, which is a conclusion that those “mainstream” academics won’t be advocating for anytime soon. It’s easy to see where McDurmon gets his information and argumentation tactics.