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Media Find New Racial Issue

The media bombarded us with the story about the dragging death of James Bird, a black man in Texas. A mostly white jury, led by a black foreman, convicted the white killer, and gave him the death sentence. That should be the end of that. But the media have now seized on a new story, in order to stoke the fires of racial animosity. They are seizing on a report that New Jersey Governor Christine Whitman has fired State Police Colonel Carl Williams for saying that minority groups are more likely to be connected to certain drug crimes. On the NBC Today Show, news reader Ann Curry said the firing had been greeted by minority groups who were standing-by to see who the replacement would be.

But wait a minute. Is there anything in what Williams said that was false? Without referring to the Williams incident, syndicated columnist Mona Charen points out, “Black-on-white crime is…treated differently in the press from white-on-black offenses. Crimes like the horrible death inflicted upon James Byrd, rare though they are, are given heavy coverage…But it does no one any favors to pretend that the great challenge in race relations today is violent white racists….[I]n 1999, the black-on-white crime rate simply dwarfs the white-on-black crime rate.”

Mona Charen quotes the facts: “Blacks are about 50 times more likely to commit violent crimes against whites than whites are to commit violent crimes against blacks. Though only 12 percent of the population, blacks account for 50 to 60 percent of arrests for homicide, 50 percent of arrests for rape, 60 percent of arrests for robbery, and between 40 and 50 percent of arrests for aggravated assault.”

These figures help put the New Jersey controversy in perspective. And the truth is that the colonel?s remarks were not just directed at minority groups. Here?s what he said, “Today…the drug problem is cocaine or marijuana. It is most likely a minority group that?s involved with that…If you?re looking at the methamphetamine market, that seems to be controlled by the motorcycle gangs, which are predominantly white.” He went on to say that Jamaicans tended to be more involved in the heroin trade.

The colonel was talking in general terms about which groups are involved. This controversy emerged in the context of complaints that 57 percent of the people being arrested on the New Jersey turnpike are black, even though only about 13 percent of the drivers are black. This was viewed as evidence of racism. However, the state police noted that most of the arrests on the highway are for violations involving drugs or weapons, and that statewide more than 60 percent of those arrested for such crimes are black.

In the case of the New Jersey trooper, it appears that one can be punished for telling the truth—for merely linking blacks to crimes for which they are convicted in greater numbers. As Mona Charen put it, honesty is being sacrificed to political correctness. If it?s taken to an extreme, it will mean that some people will be able to get away with crimes simply because the police will be told that, politically, they have to look the other way.