What We Are Supposed to Know

Jared Taylor, American Renaissance, September 1999

In the July issue we reported that New Century Foundation, which publishes American Renaissance, had released a report called The Color of Crime: Race, Crime, and Violence in America. Public reaction to this report has been such an instructive example of the way Americans deal–or fail to deal–with certain information, that we decided the story would interest our readers. Particularly in the context of how the media are currently handling other awkward facts, there is a pattern of concealment and denial that is dishonest and dangerous.

The report we released in June was, to be sure, not flattering to blacks. It noted, for example, that they are at least 50 times more likely to commit criminal acts of violence against whites than the reverse, and that they are as much more violent than whites as men are more violent than women. It also found that despite federal data-gathering methods that exaggerate the number of “hate” crimes committed by whites, blacks are still twice as likely as whites to commit such crimes. Other equally important findings were summarized in the July issue of AR.

The figures in the report were based on state and federal crime statistics that, taken together, are unassailable evidence that different racial groups in America commit violent crimes at vastly different rates. Because we knew these findings are so jarring to conventional minds, we included as appendices to the report facsimile pages from some of the government documents from which we took key figures.

In order to get maximum publicity for The Color of Crime, we held a news conference at the National Press Club to announce the report’s release. We publicized the conference and the report as significant contributions to the current controversy over “racial profiling,” or the police tactic of stopping blacks more often than whites, on the assumption that blacks are more likely to be criminals.

Our efforts were successful. Even before the report was released, many big news organizations were asking for copies. The Associated Press, Time, CBS Evening News, National Public Radio, Knight-Ridder, and the Washington Times wanted advance copies rather than wait for the news conference. A dozen other media organizations, including the Washington Post, picked up the report at the conference itself. C-SPAN thought what we had to say was so important it broadcast the news conference live and then rebroadcast it several times. On the day we released the report we arranged to have it delivered to more than 450 news organizations in the Washington, DC, area.

What happened next? Almost nothing. With one exception, everyone who had wanted the report ahead of time decided to ignore it. The Washington Times stood alone in running a substantial news story, in which it interviewed several prominent criminologists who confirmed the accuracy of our numbers and added that they were simply too inflammatory to be discussed publicly.

Was this why everyone else decided to kill the story–because the facts were too inflammatory? I do not claim to know the motives of people I have never met. News organizations have their own priorities, and no one called to say, “Thanks for sending us this fascinating report, but it’s just too hot to handle.”

However, other things were happening that suggest what decisions were being made in newsrooms. One was the release of a different report on crime by an organization called Violence Free Duluth, in Duluth, Minnesota. As we reported in the July “O Tempora” section, this group studied a year’s worth of gun crimes in detail in an attempt to understand the connection between firearms and violence. They looked into such things as the type of gun used, the role of alcohol and drugs, the relationship between killer and victim, and the age, race, and sex of the criminals. In April, the group released its report, but left one thing out: race of perpetrator.

Frank Jewell, who heads the organization, said that minorities are perhaps just arrested more often than whites, and explained that “we didn’t include it [the race data] because it might be misinterpreted.” Duluth’s deputy police chief Robert Grytdahl agreed with this decision, saying that the race findings might distract whites from the real problem: “It’s a comfortable place for white people to park the (gun crime) problem. It would be a huge distraction, and we wanted to focus on firearms.”

What are these people really saying? By claiming that information about race “might be misinterpreted,” Mr. Jewell is saying that the people of Duluth cannot be trusted with the truth–that they are either evil or stupid or both, and might draw unacceptable conclusions if they knew how much gun violence is committed by non-whites. He, of course, is a superior being and can be trusted with difficult truths.

Mr. Grytdahl is just as contemptible. According to the 1990 census, Duluth was 95 percent white. What if it turned out that virtually all the gun crimes in the city were committed by the other five percent? Is this what Mr. Grytdahl means by “a comfortable place for white people to park the problem,” whereas he wants to “focus on firearms”? Isn’t he saying that if the truth got out someone might conclude that Duluth has a minority problem rather than a gun problem?

His views can be put this way. Let us imagine the dawn of the automobile age, and drivers are getting into lots of accidents–so many, in fact, that some people want to ban cars. A study finds that a large number of accidents are caused by drivers under age eighteen, and that the auto safety problem would be largely solved if young people were kept from behind the wheel. The anti-automobile forces might want to suppress that information. “It’s a comfortable place for older people to park the problem,” they might say. “It would be a huge distraction and we wanted to focus on automobiles.”

To put it bluntly, Mr. Jewell and Mr. Grytdahl wanted a dishonest study. They knew in advance the conclusions they wanted it to reach and deliberately suppressed information that might lead to different conclusions. They are not doing research; they are practicing propaganda. They want to keep the people of Duluth ignorant, because it is easier to tell ignorant people what to think.

‘Nobody Knows’

Something similar but more subtle took place in the pages of the New York Times on July fourth. In a long, front-page story called “Reason is Sought for Lag by Blacks in School Effort,” reporter Pam Belluck wrote about the persistent racial gap in academic achievement. She wrote that educators are dismayed to find that white students from households with a family income of less than $10,000 a year get higher SAT scores than black students from households that make more than $70,000. After hearing various not-very-convincing explanations from teachers, students, parents and researchers, she concluded, “nobody claims to have clear answers.”

Of course, there are plenty of people who have clear answers, and Miss Belluck knows the names of some of them. I telephoned her to ask why she had not explored the IQ argument, even if only to reject it. She became defensive, saying that her article “reflected everything that was told me.” When I asked if no one had mentioned a “bell curve”-type explanation for low black achievement, she said the purpose of the article was not to promote anyone’s book. She quickly ended the conversation, saying “I’m not here to be interviewed.” Miss Belluck could easily have expanded her story to include the only explanation that makes sense, but she choose not to. Today, if anyone tells you “no one has clear answers” to questions about racial gaps in achievement, he is either stupid or thinks you are stupid. Miss Belluck apparently thinks her readers are stupid.

To return to our report, The Color of Crime, is it possible that editors decided simply to suppress news that doesn’t fit the vision of America they want us to embrace? Is it possible that like Frank Jewell in Duluth they think the truth about race and crime might be “misinterpreted”? Do they perhaps think that the less we know the easier it will be for them to tell us what to think?

The great irony is that we are told over and over that our form of government requires an informed electorate. Ignorant voters are irresponsible voters. And yet would it be going too far to suggest that some people prefer that voters be ignorant–at least about certain things–because if they were knowledgeable they might not vote the way they should? For people like Frank Jewell, who think that the rest of us are incapable of dealing responsibly with the truth, ignorant citizens are better citizens.

Unfortunately for those who decide for us what is worth knowing and what isn’t, there are many new ways to get information. The Internet is one, and it is significant that it is only the left–and never the right–that worries about the political views available on the net. No one sees the Internet as a great propaganda opportunity for people who want big government, gun control, racial egalitarianism, radical feminism, homosexual rights, internationalism, and higher taxes. But if “hate mongers” can use the net to seduce young minds, why not socialists? The fact is, the left doesn’t need the net because the big media are already in its hands. It fears the Internet because it is an uncontrollable alternative to the conventional media that already echo its views.

The people who run National Public Radio (NPR) recently got a slap on the wrist when investigators found that several big public radio stations had swapped donor lists with the Democrats. It is no mystery why they didn’t swap with the Republicans (or with the New Century Foundation); the broadcasting network that is supposed to be “national” and “public,” and that receives support from the taxpayer is pitching the same pop socialism the Democrats do. And these are the same people who insist that the media are not liberal. Are they stupid or do they think we are stupid? That a Republican majority in Congress should continue to fund open leftists is just one more sign of its spinelessness.

But even if NPR is firmly in the hands of the left, radio can be a good, alternative news source. As we reported in the January issue, conservative talk radio can sometimes come close to being an exercise in real free speech. The limits are narrower than on the Internet but much broader than in the New York Times or Washington Post. And, indeed, conservative talk radio cannot get enough of The Color of Crime. Over the years I have spoken on hundreds of radio programs, but no other subject has ever caught the attention of hosts and listeners the way this one has. Never before have I so often been asked to stay on the program longer than scheduled. Never before have hosts asked me to come back on the air a week later because their callers are still talking about race and crime. Never before have I been on one radio station only to have a competing station in the same city invite me on because the subject caused such a stir.

I think I know why people like this subject. Although it is still semi-taboo to discuss crime rates and interracial crime in gruesome, factual detail, it is a subject that directly touches the lives of whites and one in which they can take an interest without being too explicitly “racial.” Slowly-awakening whites who cannot yet talk calmly about race and IQ or the legitimacy of maintaining a white majority can tuck right into the purely factual aspects of crime rates. This reflects a latent racial consciousness that can only develop over time.

Needless to say, some listeners don’t want to hear that blacks commit murder and robbery at ten times the white rate. A surprising number of black callers insist we have a “racist” white government that cooks the statistics. Most white callers fall into one of two camps: those who say I am a “racist” and those who say I am brave. It is, of course, a sorry day in America when one is either brave or racist (somehow no one ever suggests I am both) simply for reporting crime statistics that the Department of Justice has been collecting for decades. There are two variants of the “racist” argument. One is that what I am saying just isn’t true because the figure are false or I am lying. The other is that even if the figures are true, publicizing them will only give comfort to “racists” and feed stereotypes. This is basically the Frank Jewell argument: White people cannot be trusted with the truth, ignorance is better than knowledge, etc. This widespread combination of obscurantism and contempt for whites is the very essence of liberal thinking about race.

The larger point, however, is that thanks to talk radio, the Internet, the Washington Times, and a few alternative publications that have written about The Color of Crime, many people are finding out the facts–and they are well aware that they didn’t read them in the morning paper. Many radio hosts exult in this: “And you didn’t read about this in the Baltimore Sun, did you? That’s right, folks, this is where you hear the news the papers are afraid to print.” Many callers are also openly contemptuous of the racial double standards the major media practice, and point out that if whites were committing a great deal of violence against blacks it would be front-page news. It is plain how little they trust television or newspapers.

Things cannot go on like this forever. The big media continue to close ranks over racial differences, immigration, the joys of “diversity,” gun control, etc., but fewer people believe them. Politicians and commentators continue to mouth the cliches the press feeds them, while more and more people stock up on ammunition and stop voting.

The country is moving in two directions at once. To someone who reads only the Washington Post, America is joyfully getting more liberal and multicultural all the time. President Clinton welcomes the day when whites become a minority. Immigration judges sagely decide that African women are refugees because they face genital mutilation back home. The Postal Service issues a stamp commemorating Malcolm X. New Hampshire does as it is told, and now every state celebrates Martin Luther King’s birthday. Non-whites continue to pour into the country without the slightest sign Congress has noticed or cares.

At the same time, trust in government and voter participation are at all-time lows. Alternative publications that openly mock the mainstream are gaining circulation. Despite the boom-time economy, the country is in the grip of a sense of crisis and foreboding that has no equivalent in living memory. Probably not since the secession crisis of the previous century have a greater proportion of Americans worried so much about the future. And probably never before have so many citizens thought our rulers were such selfish, unscrupulous men promoting policies that are so obviously wrong.

One of the causes of this disaffection is the yawning gap in what Americans know to be true and what they see on the evening news. Politicians and newspaper editors will have to start edging towards the truth or risk losing yet more of their audience. They cannot go on forever ignoring facts that ever-larger numbers of Americans are learning in unconventional ways.

But they could go on for a long time. The Soviet Union dragged on for years after even the diehards ceased to believe the propaganda. What’s more, the Soviet people had an important advantage in that the heavy, censoring hand of the commissar was clear for all to see. Everyone knew that it was the Communist Party that told them what to think, and anyone with a radio could tune into a different way of thinking.

Things are not so simple for us. There is no central censoring agency quite so obvious as the Communist Party, and there are no overseas radio broadcasts with a different point of view. American censorship is the worst, most cowardly kind: self-censorship. Every editor and television commentator knows what we are supposed to think, and dutifully curbs his tongue. At the same time, there is brisk public disagreement about subjects that are not central to the prevailing ideology, which gives the impression of freedom of expression.

AR and its readers are therefore subversives, whether we like it or not. When a social order is based on deception and hypocrisy, an honest man can be nothing else.

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