Untruth at The New Yorker
A column on the Trayvon Martin case elicits an egregious attack.


Victor Davis Hanson

But, of course, the sloppy Sanneh always gets it wrong: They did not really write that they agreed with the essay, only that there were elements, in their view, of irony in it — the use of statistics, for example, to draw practical conclusions on how to navigate in the inner city, which, they believe, gets some fired at National Review and some not. When John Derbyshire writes that, in comparison to himself, I am one of the “wise and good,” I didn’t think even Sanneh could take that sarcasm at face value.

Both VDARE and Derbyshire conveniently omitted the latter’s IQ arguments and his advice to avoid all blacks, even when in need of help. And if Sanneh had done any research at all, he would have quickly discovered that VDARE has been critical of much of what I have written, especially the melting-pot arguments of intermarriage, assimilation, and integration in relation to problems posed by illegal immigration.

5) Sanneh writes, “Hanson also adds a story from his own life: ‘When I was a graduate student living in East Palo Alto, two adult black males once tried to break through the door of my apartment — while I was in it.’ This sounds terrifying, but it doesn’t really speak to the wisdom of Hanson’s ‘sermon’: if two men are trying to break down your apartment door, you are probably well past the point of social precaution.”

Should we laugh or cry? Sanneh, of course, omits that I mentioned several other similar instances, in addition to that attempted break-in, which formed a basis for reasonable precautions. And what does he mean by the inane “past the point of social precaution”?

Are we not to draw lessons about who assaulted or attempted to assault us, and are we not to use those lessons to avoid future confrontations, because, well, it is already too late when the assailant is breaking down your door?

Of course, there was a reason why I had three locks on the door after the assault, whereas I had had two before, and why I moved from the East Palo Alto neighborhood after the next two attempted muggings. In the world of Sanneh, victims of assaults are, well, sort of culpable: When surrounded by robbers, they can merely “drive away”; when their doors are being broken down, the fools blew it — since it is already “past the point of social precaution.”

6) Sanneh is incapable of assessing data. He does not refute any of the common crime statistics about the disproportionate rates of black crime, but draws illogical conclusions from them: “One hesitates to disagree with ‘too many Americans,’ but research would appear to show something different. Government studies suggest that African-Americans are overrepresented among both offenders and victims, and that much violent crime is interracial. (One study, which looked at nearly thirty years of data, suggested that African-Americans were nearly eight times more likely than whites to commit homicide, and about six times more likely to be victims of it.) It’s strange, then, to read Hanson writing as if the fear of violent crime were mainly a ‘white or Asian’ problem, about which African-Americans might be uninformed, or unconcerned — as if African-American parents weren’t already giving their children more detailed and nuanced versions of Hanson’s ‘sermon,’ sharing his earnest and absurd hope that the right words might keep trouble at bay.”

Examine this infantile, if not racialist, logic: Because blacks are more statistically likely to attack other blacks, Asians and whites should not be concerned that, in common interracial crimes, black male youths are disproportionately the perpetrators. Perhaps Justice Ginsburg could instruct Sanneh about the disturbing implications of his own logic.

Is Sanneh angry that I gave an insensitive sermon on the statistical likelihood of crime or that I failed to note that African-Americans themselves give even “more detailed” versions of it?

Nowhere did I say that fear of violent crime is “mainly a ‘white or Asian’ problem” — only that young African-American inner-city males statistically commit violent crime far out of proportion to their numbers in the population. While most of it is intraracial, much is not — as those two news stories I quoted from San Francisco and Santa Rosa attest. Precisely because African-Americans commit an inordinate number of these violent crimes against other African-Americans, it seemed to me far wiser for the civil-rights community to focus its attention on how to stop that carnage rather than to fixate on the Zimmerman case.

Sanneh may sneer that precautions based on statistics are an “absurd hope,” but savvy advice about where and when not to walk in fact keeps “trouble at bay” for the less sophisticated of all races every evening.


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