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Racial Profiling, Once More

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One of the principal means used to undermine confidence in law enforcement is the allegation that it's racist.  This is a common tool, and is a subset of the general attack on the United States as an indecent and profoundly flawed nation that long since forfieted the right unapologetically to defend its citizens from criminals.

The notion that a degree of racism persists in the United States is true.  The notion that it principally accounts for the higher arrest and incarceration rate of blacks is false.  The notion that we should hesitate forcefully to defend ourselves against criminals, whatever their race, is preposterous. 

Today, the subject is usefully re-visited by Scott Johnson on Powerline.  Here are a few excerpts:

Heather Mac Donald has done her best to illuminate the facts underlying the racial profiling controversy. See, for example, her National Review article "Reporting while wrong.". The article's subhead is "The New York Times peddles more 'driving while black' malarkey." As might be deduced from the article's title, Mac Donald explores the New York Times's abuse of the relevant data. This is a beat that Mac Donald has simply owned and that she covered in her book Are Cops Racist?.

Mac Donald's NR article begins with an exposition of the key role played by University of Toledo Law School Professor David Harris in promulgating the myth of racial profiling. Harris served as the intellectual guru of the racial profiling campaign waged by the ACLU. As an ACLU consultant, he wrote wrote the influential pamphlet Driving While Black to which Mac Donald referred at the top of her article; the racial profiling litigation that brought the issue of alleged racial profiling in traffic stops to national attention in 2000 was a project of the ACLU.


Harris argues that crime rates are equal among racial groups and that racial disparities in the criminal justice system are therefore a function of bias. He simply discounts the basic data regarding racial disparities in crime rates, omits any reference to the basic data regarding the racial identification of perpetrators by victims, and dispenses with the related criminological scholarship of the past 30 years or so.

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Who is more likely to be arrested and convicted: a drug dealer who sells his wares indiscriminately in public, on street corners, often in plain view of pedestrians, often 24 hours a day, and is arrogant enough to self-identify his product with a unique stamp.... or

a dealer who clandestinely sells product indoors, often to customers he knows or who have been "vouched for".

Regardless of the crime rate among racial groups, an offenders' method of criminal operation goes a long way to determine who gets arrested and who does not.

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