Hillary Clinton made false claim about race-based arrests in Monday’s debate

Hillary Clinton made false claim about race-based arrests in Monday’s debate
(Image: Screen grab of ABC video via Twitter, NYT)

President Ronald Reagan once observed that “It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.” That’s especially true of left-leaning politicians, like Hillary Clinton, who live in an ideological bubble of like-minded people who reinforce each other’s fallacies and shared ideological myths. In the Daily Wire, Aaron Bandler writes about 9 falsehoods uttered by Hillary Clinton in Monday’s Presidential debate with Donald Trump. He lists “her nine biggest lies from the debate.” But to call all of Clinton’s false claims “lies” may not be accurate, since Clinton may genuinely believe in many of them. Admittedly, that was not true of all of them, since Clinton clearly told at least two lies, such as about her past position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which she could not have been honestly mistaken about.

But other false claims she made just reflect mindless repetition of left-wing talking points, rather than her deliberately making something up. For example, she claimed that “it’s just a fact that if you’re a young African-American man and you do the same thing as a young white man, you are more likely to be arrested, charged, convicted, and incarcerated,” due to “the systemic racism in our criminal justice system.”

This claim is false: blacks are actually less likely to be arrested and convicted when they commit crimes such as homicide than whites are. In 1993, criminologist Alfred Blumstein found that “blacks were significantly underrepresented in prison for homicide compared with their presence in the arrest data.” Although more than half of all murderers are black, blacks comprise less than half of those given the death penalty (only about a third of those executed between 1997 and 2011 were black).

Nor are police fabricating crimes against innocent blacks. As the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald writes in her 2016 book The War On Cops, “The statistics on the race of criminals as reported by the crime victims match the arrest data. As long ago as 1978, a study of robbery and aggravated assault in eight cities found parity between the race of assailants in victim reports and in arrests–a finding replicated many times, among a range of crimes.” No one has ever come up with a plausible reason why crime victims would be biased in their reports.

Clinton has made false claims of racism against the police many times in the past. On July 18, Hillary Clinton accused America’s police of racism in a speech to the NAACP, saying that “We need to recognize our privilege,” and end the “systemic racism” that exists in the criminal justice system. Clinton falsely argued that racism pervades police shootings, saying, “let’s admit it, there is clear evidence that African-Americans are disproportionately killed in police incidents compared to any other group.” Most police shooting victims are white, but it is true that 26% of those shot by police in 2015 were black, compared to 13% of the population. But that higher rate simply reflects the higher crime rate in the black community, and the fact that black suspects are disproportionately likely to pose a risk to police. As the Daily Wire notes, “Blacks are more likely to kill cops than be killed by cops. This is according to FBI data, which also found that 40 percent of cop killers are black.” Moreover, a “police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black than a cop killing an unarmed black person.” This is backed up even by a recent study by a liberal-leaning black Harvard economics professor, Roland G. Fryer. That study, “‘analyzing more than 1,000 officer-involved shootings across the country, reports that there is zero evidence of racial bias in police shootings.” (It found that blacks were slightly less likely to be shot than similarly-situated whites, although it also found that blacks were more likely to be handcuffed or pepper-sprayed).

Similarly, as was noted in the Wall Street Journal, a “‘deadly force’ lab study at Washington State University by researcher Lois James found that participants were biased in favor of black suspects, over white or Hispanic ones, in simulated threat scenarios. The research, published in 2014 in the Journal of Experimental Criminology, confirmed what Ms. James had found previously in studying active police officers, military personnel and the general public.” As Tom Jackman noted in the Washington Post in reporting on a 2016 follow-up study, while many believe “that black suspects are more likely to be shot than white suspects because of an implicit racial bias among police officers,” the James “study has found exactly the opposite: even with white officers who do have racial biases, officers are three times less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects than unarmed white suspects.”

Nor are white officers more likely to shoot blacks than black and Hispanic officers are. As Mac Donald notes, “In 2015 a Justice Department analysis of the Philadelphia Police Department found that white police officers were less likely than black or Hispanic officers to shoot unarmed black suspects.” And the risk of violent crime comes disproportionately from blacks. More than half of all murders in America are committed by blacks, who are just 13% of the population. (See FBI, “2014 Uniform Crime Reports: Crime in the United States,” Table 43A, Arrests by Race, 2014.)

In her July 18 speech, Clinton also falsely insinuated that racist school officials were colluding with racist police to put black students in jail, saying that we must “dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline that starts in school and diverts too many African-American kids out of school and into the criminal justice system.” This reflects a misconception, widespread on the Left, that there is institutional racism in school suspensions, which supposedly results in blacks being suspended at a higher rate even though blacks allegedly do not behave worse on average than whites.

In reality, school officials are not racist against black students: There is no such bias against black students in school suspensions, and black students’ higher suspension rates just reflect higher rates of misbehavior among black students (as researchers such as John Paul Wright have found), not a mythical “school-to-prison pipeline.” As Katherine Kersten notes in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, young black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at 10 times the rate of white and Hispanics of the same ages combined.

Jerome Woehrle

Jerome Woehrle

Jerome Woehrle is a retired attorney and author, who writes about politics.


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