What is a better word for the more than 6,000 black men shot dead on the streets in 2015? The media have been clucking their disapproval at the “darkness” of Donald Trump’s inaugural speech. “Uniquely dark vision of the U.S.,” read a New York Times headline on Saturday. The Washington Post reported that “Trump delivered a dark inaugural address” — adding, somewhat contradictorily — “in which he pledged fealty to all Americans.” A New York Times op-ed by a former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton decried Trump’s “dark, counterfactual picture of ‘American carnage’: an economy in decline, communities under siege by ‘the crime and the gangs and the drugs.’”
A New York Times editorial, “President Trump’s Dystopian America,” scoffed at how President Trump “waxed apocalyptic in imagining the prevalence of crime in the nation’s cities. ‘This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,’ [Mr. Trump] vowed,” the Times wrote incredulously. The press unleashed an identical outpouring of criticism for Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, which was likewise said to adopt a counterfactually bleak view of the nation. Are you scratching your head and wondering, Since when did liberals and the Left embrace a sunny, light-filled vision of the United States? If so, you’re not misremembering things. These are the same liberal elites who have been telling us for decades that America is shot through with an ever-expanding array of hatreds and injustice that disenfranchise large portions of the population and force them to live in fear.
According to several uncontradicted non-governmental estimates, homicides continued rising throughout 2016, thanks to what I have called the “Ferguson effect”: officers backing off proactive policing in minority neighborhoods, under the relentless charge of racism, and the resulting increase in violent crime.
So if Trump is so contemptibly misguided in his description of the rising street violence over the last two years as “carnage,” how does that criminal violence compare with the supposed epidemic of cop killings of black men? In 2015, the last year for which we have official national data, more than 6,000 black males, according to the FBI, were killed by criminals, themselves overwhelmingly black.
That is 900 more black males killed in 2015 than in the year before, but the number of black victims was undoubtedly higher even than that, since an additional 2,000 homicide victims were reported to the FBI without a racial identity. Black males make up about half of the nation’s homicide victims, so they presumably make up a similar share of racially unclassified homicide victims.
— Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of The War on Cops.
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