Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Black Lives Matter to Donald Trump

The Republican says every child—in Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore—should be able to walk to school safely. For that, he’s called racist.

By Heather Mac Donald
August 29, 2016

People attend a prayer vigil for Nykea Aldridge, outside Willie Mae Morris Empowerment Center in Chicago. Photograph: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton tried to tar Donald Trump as a racist last week by associating him with the “alt-right.” Yet it is Mr. Trump who has decried the loss of black life to violent crime—and has promptly been declared biased for doing so. Whether intentionally or not, Mr. Trump has exposed the hypocrisy of the Black Lives Matter movement and its allies.
Speaking in West Bend, Wis., on Aug. 16, only days after the recent riots in Milwaukee, Mr. Trump observed that during “the last 72 hours . . . another nine were killed in Chicago and another 46 were wounded.” The victims, as in other cities with rising crime, were overwhelmingly black.
Bringing safety to inner-city residents should be a top presidential priority, Mr. Trump said: “Our job is to make life more comfortable for the African-American parent who wants their kids to be able to safely walk the streets and walk to school. Or the senior citizen waiting for a bus. Or the young child walking home from school.” Mr. Trump promised to restore law and order “for the sake of all, but most especially for the sake of those living in the affected communities.”
The reaction was swift. The progressive website Crooks and Liars deemed Mr. Trump’s speech a “mashup of Hitler and George Wallace.”On CNN the activist and former Obama adviser Van Jones called it “despicable” and “shocking in its divisiveness.” Historian Josh Zeitz told USA Today that “the term law and order in modern American politics is, ipso facto, a racially tinged term.”
Mr. Trump’s acceptance speech in July at the Republican National Convention provoked similar dismay. “Young Americans in Baltimore, in Chicago, in Detroit, in Ferguson,” he said, have “the same right to live out their dreams as any other child in America.”
This defense of black children was too much for Alicia Garza, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. “The terrifying vision that Donald J. Trump is putting forward casts him alongside some of the worst fascists in history,” Ms. Garza said. The executive director of the Advancement Project, Judith Browne Dianis, complained that “the speech lends itself to be interpreted as isolating and scapegoating of communities of color.” Political commentator Sally Kohn wrote in Time that Mr. Trump “has basically recycled Richard Nixon’s version of dog whistle racism by insisting he is the ‘law and order candidate’—implicitly protecting White America.”
Why this frenzied effort to demonize Mr. Trump for addressing the heightened violence in inner cities? Because the Republican nominee has also correctly identified its cause: the false “narrative of cops as a racist force in our society,” as he put it in Wisconsin.
Ever since the Black Lives Matter movement burst onto the national scene in 2014, following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., violent crime has surged in urban areas. In America’s largest 56 cities, homicides rose 17% last year, the largest one-year increase in more than two decades. In Washington, D.C., homicides jumped 54%; in Milwaukee, 73%; in Cleveland, 90%.
The reason is a drop-off in the proactive policing that activists and academics denounce as racist. While cops continue to rush to 911 calls in minority neighborhoods, they are making fewer pedestrian stops and engaging in less public-order enforcement. Backing off such activity is presumably what Black Lives Matter supporters, including President Obama, want.
Yet the victims of the resulting crime surge are almost exclusively black; whites have largely been unaffected. In Baltimore, 45 people were killed in July 2015, 43 of them black. In Chicago, 2,460 blacks were shot last year, lethally or non-lethally, according to the city’s police department. That’s nearly seven a day. Seventy-eight white residents were shot in 2015, though the white share of the Chicago population is about the same as the black share. Blacks in Chicago were 18 times more likely to be killed last year than whites, up from eight times more likely in 2005.
Police shootings are a minute fraction of this carnage. So far this year in Chicago, they account for about 0.5% of all shootings. Four studies published this year alone have further undercut the claim that we are living through an epidemic of racially biased policing shootings. Harvard economist Roland Fryer, for example, examined data from Dallas, Austin, Houston, Los Angeles and six Florida counties. He found no evidence of racial discrimination in police shootings; officers in Houston were nearly 24% less likely to shoot blacks than whites.
When Mr. Trump pledges to restore law and order, he is not promising to “protect White America,” in Sally Kohn’s words. He is addressing a problem that whites could easily ignore, if they were the bigots that the Black Lives Matter movement and nearly the whole of academia make them out to be.
Strangely, it is Mr. Obama and Black Lives Matter sympathizers who have turned their eyes from the rising black victimization. FBI Director James Comey warned last October that the “chill wind blowing through American law enforcement” was leading to a “huge increase” in urban homicides and shootings. Mr. Obama promptly accused him of “cherry-picking data” and having a “political agenda.”
After Mr. Trump drew attention in his convention speech to the rising urban violence, President Obama again dismissed the casualties as merely an “uptick in murders and violent crime in some cities.” It is hard not to translate this is as: white lives matter; black lives, not so much.
Mr. Trump’s call to restore law and order recognizes the right of inner-city residents to enjoy the same freedom from fear that the rest of America now takes for granted, thanks to the 20-year decline in crime brought on by the proactive policing revolution of the 1990s. Mr. Trump has issued a much-needed warning that the antipolice narrative is putting black lives in jeopardy and undercutting the foundation of a civilized society. It is a message he should amplify.
Ms. Mac Donald is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of “The War on Cops.”

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