What Rudy Giuliani didn’t mean to tell us, but did

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Rudy Giuliani

In an appearance on “Meet the Press” Sunday, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani engaged in a memorable exchange with Michael Eric Dyson over the situation in Ferguson, Missouri and over the relationship between law enforcement and the minority communities that they are sworn to protect.

The debate grew emotional when Giuliani shifted the terms of the debate to the separate issue of black-on-black crime:

“The fact is that I find it very disappointing that you’re not discussing the fact that 93 percent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks. We are talking about the significant exception here (in the Michael Brown case). I’d like to see the attention paid to that that you are paying to this.”

“Why don’t you cut it down so so many white police officers don’t have to be in black areas?” Giuliani went on to ask in what became an emotional exchange with Dyson. “The white police officers wouldn’t be there if you weren’t killing each other 70 to 75 percent of the time.”

Let’s see if we can talk about these issues a little more calmly and analytically than is possible in a two- or three-minute TV segment. And let’s begin with the observation that Giuliani is correct: Most young black male homicide victims are killed by other young black males. It’s an indisputable fact and a major problem.

However, there are several problems with Giuliani’s use of that data.

One is the implication that black-on-black crime is somehow being ignored, that nobody wants to do anything about it and that as a result, such crimes are spiraling out of control. None of that is remotely true. Since 2003, the number of black-on-black murders has fallen by 21.6 percent, according to FBI statistics. In fact, the black murder rate in the past decade has fallen faster than the white murder rate, although it remains significantly higher.  (It would be interesting to see that data controlled for poverty, which throughout history has been associated with higher rates of violence.)

The second problem with Giuliani’s argument is relevance. By raising the issue of black-on-black crime, Giuliani is attempting to change the subject, not illuminate the subject. What young black males do to each other has nothing to do with whether government allows police officers to abuse their state-granted authority to use violence. Black-on-black crime, while a major problem in its own right, has nothing to do with the situation in Ferguson, which involves allegations of police misconduct in a police department with a record of racially disparate enforcement.** You cannot use one problem to justify the other.

If you’re driving down the street in Ferguson or any other community, you ought to be able to do so as an individual, with the full panoply of civil rights and protections available to every other individual. That’s the whole idea behind this country: You ought to be judged by your own behavior. The fact that you may be black or Hispanic, and that other people who share that racial background may have committed crimes, should not make you, as an individual, more prone to harassment, arrest or even a long prison sentence.

But that’s not the reality. For example, extensive research documents the fact that white Americans are just as likely if not more likely than black Americans to use illegal drugs, yet black Americans are three times more likely to be arrested for that crime, and once arrested much more likely to be given a prison sentence.  That has profound implications, because once you’re arrested for such a crime, it becomes much, much harder to get a decent job, to go to college, etc. The damage done to lives by government in such situations probably outweighs the damage done by black males to other black males, although Giuliani and others would clearly prefer we not discuss that.

Yet that’s the kind of ongoing disparity that created the tinder for conflagration in Ferguson, even if it turns out that the specific spark for that fire turned out to be more tragic circumstance than flagrant injustice.

Overall, however, I think the problem can be boiled down to one particular word uttered by Giuliani in the heat of his exchange with Dyson, at a moment when the normal filters are bypassed and inner truth is revealed. That word is “you,” as in “the white police officers wouldn’t be there if you weren’t killing each other 70 to 75 percent of the time.”

When Giuliani looked at Michael Eric Dyson in that moment, he didn’t see a 56-year-old author and professor at Georgetown University with a Phd in religion from Princeton University and a long record of social involvement, including work with urban kids trying to show them a better way. He didn’t see the individual. Giuliani instead saw Dyson as a “you”, as one of “you people killing each other.”

It was the most revealing moment in the entire exchange.

————

** Let’s remember the data, as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“Ferguson police are much more likely to stop, search and arrest African-American drivers than white ones. Last year, blacks, who make up a little less than two-thirds of the driving-age population in the North County city, accounted for 86 percent of all stops. When stopped, they were almost twice as likely to be searched as whites and twice as likely to be arrested, though police were less likely to find contraband on them.”

And as the newspaper also points out, the numbers for some other St. Louis communities are even worse.

Reader Comments 0

801 comments
Peachs
Peachs

What Rudy and other Republicans don’t understand this is not about Brown this is about the perception of justice. I noticed in that press conference last night a lot of loaded questions about how many blacks were on the grand jury. It was asked by an almost totally white press pool in questions to the prosecutor. It was so natural looking I almost didn’t notice it until I heard mean reporters asking hard questions and, them, looking exactly like the mess they are offended by.

WGA1990
WGA1990

No celebration... a young man lost his life and another older young man lives in the darkness of regret for the circumstance.

Bruno2
Bruno2

@WGA1990 Probably far more tragic to me are the cases recently in which kids were shot for carrying toy pistol/rifles that looked like the real thing. 

Bruno2
Bruno2

@WGA1990 @Bruno2 Not laying blame in those cases, but it doesn't seem like a smart idea to put those replicas in kids hands.  Kind of like the idiot who took his young daughter to shoot a machine gun at the range in which the instructor got killed.  Guns may have sporting value, but they're not toys and should be respected.

Orange15
Orange15

It's too bad the officer couldn't wait until backup arrived. This whole thing probably could have been averted. He probably wasn't expecting a violent encounter though.

Bruno2
Bruno2

@Orange14 I'm sure there are a few crazy cops out there, but the vast, vast majority simply hope to make it through their shift and get home safely to their families.

Bruno2
Bruno2

As for the greater complaint that minorities are treated unfairly by the police, that's a valid complaint that should receive attention.  But, in my opinion, tying that effort to questionable cases like this one is a bad strategy. 

Blue Ridge Man
Blue Ridge Man

@Bruno2


When you tie one case to a cause you become rigid as to the facts of the case and lose the ability to judge the case from an unbiased point of view.

Orange15
Orange15

One life ended and one life ruined.

LeninTime
LeninTime

So is the right wing filth here to get in some good taunts? 

Bruno2
Bruno2

@LeninTime In case it didn't occur to you, calling someone "filth" is a taunt in and of itself.  Are your taunts somehow more acceptable than those from the right??

DawgWhistle
DawgWhistle

Yes, a significant percentage of murders of blacks is committed by other blacks...but guess what, a similarly, inordinately high, percentage of murders of whites are committed by other whites ( it's a function of who we know, where we live and who we are in contact with)...so when do we do something about white on white crime?

As for the fact that they didn't charge the cop here is gonna be questioned for some time to come. After all, The Warren Commission claimed what they claimed too and we're still questioning that one. I for one will like to hear what The Justice Department's version of the proceedings and the decision.

ElemennoP
ElemennoP

I'm just glad the rule of law prevailed.

Bruno2
Bruno2

Philo, Hussein--There's nothing to celebrate, there are no real winners here.  Try to be respectful. 

It sounds like the investigators did a thorough job, all we can hope is that people accept the decision.

WGA1990
WGA1990

And so it is, I hope the grand juries decision is accepted but there will be some who won't accept.

Jackie_36
Jackie_36

@WGA1990 Acceptance of the decision by the court to give the gentleman a fine and probation for killing someone who turned around in his driveway?

Kamchak
Kamchak

@ElemennoP 

Gotta love it.

More "happy endings" on the blog than in the Champagne Room at  The Gold Club.

Just sayin'.

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

I don't think Holder will be so cooperative on the next trip to Ferguson.

ElemennoP
ElemennoP

"...physical evidence, not political agenda..."


Gotta love it.

ElemennoP
ElemennoP

Pants up, don't loot...

Pants up, don't loot...

KingHusseinObama
KingHusseinObama

Sorry Booker. Another witch hunt failed due to those damn facts!

Loot On!!!

Philo_Farnsworth
Philo_Farnsworth

Attention race-baiters and assorted lib loon trouble-makers!

Please assemble at Gwinnett BrandSmart for rioting activities.

Post looting, please see Philo in the north parking lot for quick cash flat screen reimbursements.

Look for the family truckster.

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

@moonbat_betty @barkingfrog Highly likely the officer violated Brown's

rights in a killing initiated by jaywalking. Unreasonable people on both sides

will probably result in more deaths.

td1234
td1234

NO indictment on all 5 charges.

ElemennoP
ElemennoP

No charges.


The truth is now public.


Get ready for the riots.

Jackie_36
Jackie_36

@ElemennoP There is no need for riots; the "justice system" just undressed itself.

td1234
td1234

Most of the witnesses were lying

td1234
td1234

According to the DA

TBS
TBS

Hopefully the majority of protests and protesters continue to be peaceful.  Those breaking the law should be dealt with accordingly.  



Jackie_36
Jackie_36

The fix is in!!!!

The witnesses are lying about Officer Wilson shooting Michael Brown.

TBS
TBS

@Jackie_36


You don't know that to be fact.  It might be your opinion.

moonbat_betty
moonbat_betty

Man,

There's no way they can break into "Dancing with the Stars".

Stay tuned until they can fit it in.



td1234
td1234

They are breaking into Dancing with the stars for this non indictment.