The Dishonest Politics of Interracial Violence

Recently in Sacramento, police appear to have solved a 40-year-old cold case.  Based partly on DNA evidence, a black man now 71 years old has been charged in the brutal rape and murder of Robin Brooks.  

Like Robin Brooks, each year, some 500 whites are murdered by blacks in the USA. But the Brooks case never generated national media outrage, nor has any of the other cases where whites were murdered by blacks.  Meanwhile, instances of white-on-black killing, such as that of Ahmaud Arbery, automatically draw scrutiny and spur protests.  Its easy to get the impression that most interracial murders are committed by whites.

Donald Trump attempted to correct that impression in 2015 when he tweeted that 81% of whites murdered were killed by blacks.  The Poynter Institute's PolitiFact soon "corrected" Trump's tweet by publishing FBI statistics showing that "only" 15% of whites are killed by blacks, while 8% of blacks are killed by whites.  These raw numbers, however, are not adjusted for population.  Adjusting for the relative number of whites and blacks in the U.S. population (white population at roughly six times that of black) would show that individual blacks are some 12 times more likely to kill a white person as the other way around.  That number does not appear in any liberal post.

As usual, US News & World Report is a good place to search for accurate information.  In a Sept. 26, 2016 article (during the presidency of Barack Obama, who promised to make America "racially neutral"), US News noted that the number of interracial homicides had been growing rapidly.  Using 2015 data, numbers showed "500 killings of white people attributed to blacks" in a year when 229 blacks were killed by whites.

In addition to these numbers, each year, there are many black-on-white murders that are never solved and thousands of serious assaults that are never reported.

Still, as US News points out, only about 12% of homicides overall are interracial.

What this figure masks, however, is the especially brutal nature of many interracial killings. The horrific rape-torture-murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom in January 2007 failed to make the national news despite the unspeakable violence involved.  During the many hours that Christian and Newsom were held, they were repeatedly raped, sodomized, and tortured by a gang of five blacks.  Channon Christian was beaten until she was brain-damaged, had Lysol poured down her throat, and was then wrapped in plastic bags and left to suffocate slowly, her body thrown in a trash bin.  Newsom was shot, his body rolled in a rug and set alight.   

Had the victims been black, it seems likely that federal hate crime charges would have been brought.  The national media would have been all over the case, and national black leaders would have been on the scene.  Knoxville, where the crimes took place, would have been the scene of some of the most incendiary protests in modern history — yet there was only silence.  The murders and the long, excruciating trial and retrial that followed were not even mentioned in the mainstream media.  Even now, to speak of these and similar crimes is to invite the charge of racism, as if simply speaking the truth were somehow wrong.  Clearly, a completely biased double standard exists in the way interracial crimes are reported.

When blacks are killed by whites, even in the case of police officers defending themselves against violent assailants, there is often talk of a racial "hate crime."  Protestors march carrying signs of "Black Lives Matter."  Certainly, black lives do matter, and they matter enormously, but one should not be protesting when the object of these protests was defending himself against a violent assailant.

Often, those leading the Black Lives Matter protests are silent when whites are killed by blacks.  So also, all too often, are federal authorities, including Vice President Biden.  During the eight years in which Biden was V.P., some 4,000 whites were murdered by blacks, many of them, like Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, in a sickening manner.  Yet so far as I can determine, Biden has never supported federal hate crime charges against any black assailant.

There is no way to prevent most of these crimes, but it would help if politicians and other public figures would stop playing the race card every time a case arises.  Among those on the national scene, former V.P. Biden appears to be one of the most culpable in this respect.  Telling blacks that whites want them "back in chains" is not the pathway to racial tranquility.  Stating that President Trump has a connection with "the Ku Klux Klans and the rest of them," as Biden did in January, does not bring America together.  Similarly, announcing that he will have a woman, preferably one "of color," on his ticket — in other words, excluding most candidates solely on the basis of their race and sex — does not portend a race- and sex-neutral presidency.

Unfortunately, the killing will continue, and blacks will continue to kill whites as well as other blacks at several times the national average.  What can we do?  For one thing, be vigilant.  Be observant of your surroundings, and avoid dangerous situations.

One cannot easily change the mindset of an underclass of Americans, both black and white, who are willing to kill for a few dollars or to kill out of a twisted sense of pleasure in violence or racial revenge.  I pray that eventually the violence will end, but that's not likely for decades if not centuries.  I feel compassion for the hundreds of thousands of victims of violence, interracial or otherwise.

If there is one step that can be taken now toward improving the situation, it is to face the facts honestly.  It doesn't help to pretend that blacks are the sole victims of interracial violence; they are the perpetrators as well, and to a disproportionate extent.  Candidate Trump told the truth, though he may have been much mistaken on his numbers.  V.P. Biden, so far as I can determine, has never spoken frankly about black-on-white crime.  It is time for him and the national media to do so, and so begin a process of national reconciliation based on an honest acknowledgement of the facts.

Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).