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Disingenuous Reporting on Race

March 6, 2012

Shocking news from The New York Times:

Black students, especially boys, face much harsher discipline in public schools than other students, according to new data from the Department of Education.

It’s important to remember that these articles aren’t merely stupid. This article, while suggesting that this is a new civil rights issue, never bothers to ask (let alone answer) the completely obvious question whether black kids in fact misbehave more often or more severely than white kids. (Indeed this data would more properly have been presented as evidence of precisely that.) So the Times is being totally disingenuous.

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Update: Skarphedin comments:

There are two trends of arguments used in these situations, generally by the same people: 1) All the social pathologies in the black community are caused by their history of oppression, and 2) There are no black social pathologies, only white prejudice. They are both used at the same time in a way, because the first one is too awkward – it means having to acknowledge all kinds of ways in which black culture is messed up – so for any specific situation, or for really awkward ones, things are generally attributed to white prejudice against black people. But, of course, at some points the social pathologies simply have to be acknowledged, at which time they will be attributed to past oppression.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 6, 2012 3:44 pm

    I look forward to their expose on the disproportionate amount of prison sentences given to men. It clearly “violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise.

    Sometimes it’s hard to remember that there are actually lots of people who assume that black crime is actually just a media myth, or if they are vaguely aware of the statistics, that they are caused by police racial profiling, rather than actual differences in crime-proneness.

    No semi-informed person believes these things though – which really makes it, as you say, sheer disingenuousness to portray it as “harsher punishment” – when someone along the article-writing-line at the NYT must know that those black boys are probably causing trouble at a greater than average rate.

    There are two trends of arguments used in these situations, generally by the same people: 1) All the social pathologies in the black community are caused by their history of oppression, and 2) There are no black social pathologies, only white prejudice. They are both used at the same time in a way, because the first one is too awkward – it means having to acknowledge all kinds of ways in which black culture is messed up – so for any specific situation, or for really awkward ones, things are generally attributed to white prejudice against black people. But, of course, at some points the social pathologies simply have to be acknowledged, at which time they will be attributed to past oppression.

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