Sullivan: When The Narrative Replaces The News

Valid points by Sullivan on the media’s responsibility to provide context and background to hate crimes and incidents, including comparative data between groups and perpetrators:

There’s a reason for this shift. Treating the individual as unique, granting him or her rights, defending the presumption of innocence, relying on provable, objective evidence: these core liberal principles are precisely what critical theory aims to deconstruct. And the elite media is in the vanguard of this war on liberalism. 

This isn’t in any way to deny increasing bias against Asian-Americans. It’s real and it’s awful. Asians are targeted by elite leftists, who actively discriminate against them in higher education, and attempt to dismantle the merit-based schools where Asian-American students succeed — precisely and only because too many Asians are attending. And Asian-Americans are also often targeted by envious or opportunistic criminal non-whites in their neighborhoods. For Trump to give these forces a top-spin with the “China virus” made things even worse, of course. For a firsthand account of a Chinese family’s experience of violence and harassment, check out this piece.

The more Asian-Americans succeed, the deeper the envy and hostility that can be directed toward them. The National Crime Victimization Survey notesthat “the rate of violent crime committed against Asians increased from 8.2 to 16.2 per 1000 persons age 12 or older from 2015 to 2018.” Hate crimes? “Hate crime incidents against Asian Americans had an annual rate of increase of approximately 12% from 2012 to 2014. Although there was a temporary decrease from 2014 to 2015, anti-Asian bias crimes had increased again from 2015 to 2018.” 

Asians are different from other groups in this respect. “Comparing with Black and Hispanic victims, Asian Americans have relatively higher chance to be victimized by non-White offenders (25.5% vs. 1.0% for African Americans and 18.9% for Hispanics). … Asian Americans have higher risk to be persecuted by strangers … are less likely to be offended in their residence … and are more likely to be targeted at school/college.” Of those committing violence against Asians, you discover that 24 percent such attacks are committed by whites; 24 percent are committed by fellow Asians; 7 percent by Hispanics; and 27.5 percent by African-Americans. Do the Kendi math, and you can see why Kendi’s “White Supremacist domestic terror” is not that useful a term for describing anti-Asian violence.

But what about hate crimes specifically? In general, the group disproportionately most likely to commit hate crimes in the US are African-Americans. At 13 percent of the population, African Americans commit 23.9 percent of hate crimes. But hate specifically against Asian-Americans in the era of Trump and Covid? Solid numbers are not yet available for 2020, which is the year that matters here. There’s data, from 1994 to 2014, that finds little racial skew among those committing anti-Asian hate crimes. Hostility comes from every other community pretty equally. 

The best data I’ve found for 2020, the salient period for this discussion, are provisional data on complaints and arrests for hate crimes against Asians in New York City, one of two cities which seem to have been most affected. They record 20 such arrests in 2020. Of those 20 offenders, 11 were African-American, two Black-Hispanic, two white, and five white Hispanics. Of the black offenders, a majority were women. The bulk happened last March, and they petered out soon after. If you drill down on some recent incidents in the news in California, and get past the media gloss to the actual mugshots, you also find as many black as white offenders.

This doesn’t prove much either, of course. Anti-Asian bias, like all biases, can infect anyone of any race, and the sample size is small and in one place. But it sure complicates the “white supremacy” case that the mainstream media simply assert as fact. 

And, given the headlines, the other thing missing is a little perspective. Here’s a word cloud of the victims of hate crimes in NYC in 2020. You can see that anti-Asian hate crimes are dwarfed by those against Jews, and many other minorities. And when you hear about a 150 percent rise in one year, it’s worth noting that this means a total of 122 such incidents in a country of 330 million, of which 19 million are Asian. Even if we bring this number up to more than 3,000 incidents from unreported and far less grave cases, including “shunning”, it’s small in an aggregate sense. A 50 percent increase in San Francisco from 2019 – 2020, for example, means the number of actual crimes went from 6 to 9

Is it worse than ever? No. 2020 saw 122 such hate incidents. In 1996, the number was 350. Many incidents go unreported, of course, and hideous comments, slurs and abuse don’t count as hate “crimes” as such. I’m not discounting the emotional scars of the kind of harassment this report cites. I’m sure they’ve increased. They’re awful. Despicable. Disgusting.

But the theory behind hate crimes law is that these crimes matter more because they terrify so many beyond the actual victim. And so it seems to me that the media’s primary role in cases like these is providing some data and perspective on what’s actually happening, to allay irrational fear. Instead they contribute to the distortion by breathlessly hyping one incident without a single provable link to any go this — and scare the bejeezus out of people unnecessarily. 

The media is supposed to subject easy, convenient rush-to-judgment narratives to ruthless empirical testing. Now, for purely ideological reasons, they are rushing to promote ready-made narratives, which actually point away from the empirical facts. To run sixteen separate pieces on anti-Asian white supremacist misogynist hate based on one possibly completely unrelated incident is not journalism. It’s fanning irrational fear in the cause of ideological indoctrination. And it appears to be where all elite media is headed.

Source: https://andrewsullivan.substack.com/p/when-the-narrative-replaces-the-news-9ea?token=eyJ1c2VyX2lkIjoxMDcxOTUwNywicG9zdF9pZCI6MzM4NTQ3NDcsIl8iOiJ3SVY5SCIsImlhdCI6MTYxNjMyMjg4MiwiZXhwIjoxNjE2MzI2NDgyLCJpc3MiOiJwdWItNjEzNzEiLCJzdWIiOiJwb3N0LXJlYWN0aW9uIn0.p90yZ3tRiph43-8Wq6msRWTYlRMmdY_GZy0T0FrTkOQ&utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email&utm_content=share

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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