In the Republican presidential candidates’ debate on Jan. 7, Rep. Ron Paul said: “I’m the only one up here … that understands true racism in this country is in the judicial system.”
He said this racism has to do with “enforcing the drug laws” and then added: “They (blacks) get the death penalty way disproportionately.”
Two groups immediately defended Paul—his supporters and commentators on the left. The former support anything Paul says, and the left supports anything Paul says that portrays America as ugly (see, for example, the defense of Paul by left-wing USA Today columnist Dwayne Wickham, whose columns are regularly devoted to how much blacks suffer from American racism).
It does seem that the Texas congressman’s description of the American justice system as racist is part of Paul’s generally dark view of America.
The claim that America disproportionately executes blacks is a falsehood, disseminated on virtually every left-wing website, from the ACLU to all the anti-death-penalty sites. The only way it can be regarded as true is if the disproportion is in relation to the entire population of the country: Blacks make up about 12 percent of the population and since 1976 have been about 35 percent of those executed for murder. But this is a statistic that tells no truth because it is meaningless in terms of determining alleged racial bias.
This is very easy to prove. Males make up about 50 percent of the American population but make up about 99 percent of those executed. Is the American justice system wildly anti-male?
Of course not. The statistic that matters in assessing bias in executions is the proportion of murderers of a given group who are executed, not the group’s proportion of the entire population.
And here, it is clear that blacks are actually under-represented in executions.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, an anti-death-penalty organization, between 1976 and January 2012, 441 blacks (35 percent of the total) and 717 whites (55 percent of the total) were executed. Given that blacks committed more than half the murders during that time (52 percent versus 46 percent by whites), if we are to assess racial bias based on proportionality of murderers executed, the system is biased against whites, not blacks.
Because this fact is both obvious and irrefutable, virtually none of the anti-death-penalty sites note it. Instead, they focus on the race of murder victims and even the race of prosecutors—in other words, the race of just about everyone except those convicted of murder.