The Corner

BBC: Barack Obama Is the Number One Reason for U.S. Crime Reduction

Just when you thought the BBC couldn’t reinterpret its charter responsibility to remain “impartial” any more creatively, its website today, in reference to this morning’s tragic Ohio shooting, highlights a piece entitled, “US crime figures: Why the drop?” The article starts by posing a question:

For 20 years, crime in the US has been falling and new figures from the FBI show a sharp drop in the last two years, despite the recession. Why? Through Democratic and Republican administrations and through booms and busts, crime has been falling since 1991.

The author then quickly acknowledges that “no-one agrees on the reasons for this” and offers “10 possible theories” for the trend. And, would you believe it, although the question posed noted that crime has been falling since 1991 — through all sorts of economic times and under presidents and congressional majorities of both party — Barack Obama is the first reason offered for the drop!

1. The Obama effect could explain the increased pace of the reduction of the last few years, says one of the country’s top criminologists, Alfred Blumstein. “The prior expectation was that the recession would have the opposite effect. The question then is what distinctive event occurred in ‘09?” The election of a black president could have inspired some young black men, who are disproportionately involved in arrests for robbery and homicide, says the professor. It’s very speculative, he adds, and probably only one factor of many, as one of the cities with a huge drop in crime is Phoenix, in Arizona, which does not have a large black population. “In the field of criminology, you don’t get consistent indicators as you would in physics. There are so many factors that could have contributed.” A separate study on school test scores supports the view that some black teenagers were motivated to try harder by the new presidency.

Even if one were to consider the “Obama effect” to be a credible theory, given that it would explain only three years worth of a 21 year trend — whereas the other nine on the list were all long-term hypotheses — one would still surely conclude that it should have been included as a throwaway last item. Only the BBC could seriously privilege Obama’s presence above smarter policing, reduced demand for crack, advancing technology, or structural economic change. But then, as I’m fond of noting, the BBC’s biased coverage of American politics is legendary.

The rest here.


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