Posted on July 1, 2015

The Shameful Liberal Exploitation of the Charleston Massacre

Heather Mac Donald, National Review, July 1, 2015

The racist massacre of nine black worshipers at a Charleston, S.C., church on June 17 was an act of such heinous ugliness that it demands to be scrutinized for any larger meanings it may possess. {snip} Given America’s history of racial terror, including attacks on black churches, it is appropriate to ask humbly, with trepidation, whether the shooting reflects currents of hate that are still active in American culture. It is not, however, appropriate to answer that question with boilerplate rhetoric that bears little resemblance to reality.

An honest appraisal of race relations today would conclude that the Charleston massacre belongs to the outermost, lunatic fringe of American society. The country’s revulsion at the carnage was immediate and universal, resulting in a justified movement to banish the Confederate flag, embraced by Roof as a white-supremacist symbol, from official sites. Roof was not expressing the will of anyone beyond his own narcissistic, twisted self. White-supremacist killings are not a common aspect of black life today; their very rarity is what made this atrocity so newsworthy.

And yet the Democratic elites, from President Obama on down, opportunistically turned Roof into a stand-in for white America, linking his rampage to the Left’s standard grab bag of institutional racism that allegedly poisons black life. Eulogizing Emanuel A.M.E.’s pastor, the Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney, on June 26, Obama fingered virtually every white as a potential co-conspirator in the killings. “Maybe we now realize the way racial bias can infect us even when we don’t realize it,” Obama said. In other words, it took this violence for white America to wake up to its enduring racism, racism that is continuous with Roof’s homicidal mania. Obama cautioned “us” (read: whites) about other manifestations of “our” potentially lethal racism. Once we “realize” how we are “infected” with bias, he said, we will be “guarding against not just racial slurs, but . . . also . . . against the subtle impulse to call Johnny back for an interview but not Jamal. So that we search our hearts when we consider laws to make it harder for some of our fellow citizens to vote.” {snip}

Obama, however, marched on, leveraging the bloodshed to confirm other liberal tropes regarding a racist America. “Perhaps this tragedy causes us to ask some tough questions about how we can permit so many of our children to languish in poverty, or attend dilapidated schools, or grow up without prospects for a job or for a career.” Obama is yoking together disjointed realities. Even were the standard liberal narrative about poverty true, its alleged malefactors would still bear no responsibility for the Charleston horror.


America spends over $1 trillion a year on programs for disadvantaged families, estimates Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution. In the liberal worldview, where compassion is measured by government spending, that vast sum should buy the American “we” some dispensation from race-mongering. Compassionate or not, however, that spending is unable to counteract the effects of nonmarital childbearing, a social catastrophe about which Obama, Kristof, and other scourges of alleged racism are silent. {snip}


In fact, white violence against blacks is dwarfed by black on white violence. In 2012, blacks committed 560,600 acts of violence against whites (excluding homicide), and whites committed 99,403 acts of violence (excluding homicide) against blacks, according to data from the National Crime Victimization Survey provided to the author. Blacks, in other words, committed 85 percent of the non-homicide interracial crimes of violence between blacks and whites, even though they are less than 13 percent of the population. Both the absolute number of incidents and the rate of black-on-white violence are therefore magnitudes higher than white-on-black violence. There is no white race war going on.

(The Bureau of Justice Statistics stopped publishing its table on interracial crime after 2008, perhaps not coincidentally, the first year of the Obama presidency. The agency explains its decision on the ground that some of the estimates in particular crime categories, such as sexual assault, are based on sample sizes that are too small to be statistically reliable. But that is no reason not to tabulate data on the crimes for which reliable estimates are available.)

A black boy “has a life expectancy five years shorter than a white boy,” notes Nicholas Kristof as part of his litany of persistent white racism. A considerable part of that gap is due to the black homicide-victimization rate–six times higher than the white homicide-victimization rate. It is not whites who are responsible for that homicide death gap; it’s other blacks. Blacks commit homicide at close to eight times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined; among males between the ages of 14 and 17, the interracial homicide commission gap is nearly tenfold. Rare is the national protest and media blitz over those routine killings.

The Roof massacre was a shocking throwback to this country’s deplorable racial past. But the vast majority of whites have moved beyond that past. Most whites and most blacks wish only to be allowed to get along, outside enforced race consciousness. Pockets of virulent racial contempt still exist (as much among blacks as among whites), but they are irrelevant to the millions of individual behavioral choices that drive social and economic outcomes. {snip}