Drum makes (instructive) mistake: Everybody makes mistakes. Allegedly, this has been proven.
Last night, Kevin Drum made a mistake. We call attention to this mistake because it might be instructive.
Drum was discussing some of the things people do to alienate white suburban voters. He started by listed some of the things Donald J. Trump has done:
DRUM (9/8/20): On one side we have President Trump tweeting a video of a black man shoving a white woman; defending Kyle Rittenhouse, the white man who allegedly killed two black protesters in Kenosha; banning the use of diversity training at federal agencies; and tweeting that the Department of Education is “looking at” the use of the Pulitzer-winning 1619 Project in public schools. These actions and others are almost laughably racist, obviously designed to appeal to Trump’s core base of supporters. But because they’re so obvious, they’re also likely to turn off moderate white suburbanites who aren’t willing to swallow such overt and toxic racism.The commander's actions weren't just racist. His actions were almost laughably racist.
Indeed, the commander had displayed overt and toxic racism. We love to toss ourt R-bombs around, sometimes jacking the level of racism up.
That said, did Trump display almost laughable racism when he defended Kyle Rittenhouse, "the white man who allegedly killed two black protesters in Kenosha?" We ask because the words we've quoited contain a basic mistake.
Let's start with a minor digression. Is Kyle Rittenhouse really a "man?" We ask this question because he's only 17 years old.
In earlier, major tribal narratives, being 17 made you a "boy," even a "child." For our money, it might be better to state a teenager's age and pretty much leave it at that.
That, of course, isn't the instructive mistake to which we've been referring. Here's the (possibly instructive) mistake:
"Kyle Rittenhouse, the white man who allegedly killed two black protesters"In fact, Rittenhouse shot three people that night, two of whom died. But all of those people were "white!"
Drum hasn't been posting a lot of late. His mother had had a medical situation, and he's been helping out.
Beyond that, anyone can make a mistake. But this particular error strikes us as maybe instructive.
In recent weeks, we've asked a question several times. Rather, we've floated a fantasy:
We've wondered what people would say if they were surveyed about shooting deaths. More specifically, we've wondered if people have any idea about which "racial" or ethnic groups get shot and killed by police officers.
How many "white" people get shot and killed by police officers? Because of the way such matters are now being reported, we'll guess that quite a few people might think that the answer is basically none.
That thought would of course be wrong. We'd be inclined to guess that quite a few people might think that.
We'd love to see that survey done. We'd like to see it done several ways, with an array of well-formed questions.
Drum may simply have had a brain cramp when he made that misstatement. On the other hand, the fact that he apparently thought that the white man in Kenosha shot and killed two black people may be a window into what we've been wondering about.
Consider yesterday's very strange front-page report in the Washington Post. The giant report claimed to be discussing "an often overlooked but consistent subset of people fatally shot by police—women."
We were finally going to learn about the women who get shot and killed by police officers. But how odd:
In fact, 62.3% of women shot and killed by police officers are socially defined as "white." Only 20.3% of such decedents are socially defined as "black."
Sixty-two percent are white! But of the seven women the Post discussed, only one was white. And you had to read to paragraph 76 to see her case get mentioned, with the Post's report apparently containing major, embarrassing mistakes.
An obvious rule of thumb now obtains with regard to fatal shootings by police officers. Some cases get tremendous coverage--but only if the decedent is black.
If the decedent is white, Hispanic or other, the case gets disappeared. This is a fairly obvious fact. Let's not pretend that it isn't.
Along the way, a certain inaccurate picture may start to form in the mind. We may start assuming that all shooting victims are black. That may explain why Drum seemed to have an inaccurate picture in his mind about what the white man did.
Rittenhouse shot three people, one of whom was armed. But all of the people he shot were "white!" None of the three was "black."
We've asked and asked, then asked some more, whether the current press procedure might produce misperceptions. Because this topic is very important, misperceptions about this topic can be very harmful.
We'll guess that misperceptions do form when "white," Hispanic and "other" deaths get disappeared. That's why the analysts came out of their chairs when they visited Slate this morning.
There they found Jeremy Stahl, breaking every rule in the book.
Stahl was reporting a police shooting incident in Salt Lake City. And according to Stahl, the 13-year-old boy who got shot was "white!" He was white all the way down!
Jeremy Stahl broke every rule in the book by discussing that incident. In our view, it's a very good thing that he did. Once again, we recall what Professor cobb recently said, right there on The One True Channel:
COBB (6/10/20): One other point that I have been making a lot, I have been making all the time, is that one of the reasons that this problem has been allowed to persist is that people have the perception that this is a black and brown problem.According to Cobb, this isn't just a black and brown problem. (For the record, Hispanic deaths get disappeared by the upper-end press corps too.)
But if you were to discard all of the incidents involving black and brown people, what you would find is, there are a heck of a lot of white people, unarmed white people, who are killed by police each year.
We have a fundamental problem with policing in this country, whose most extreme violent forms are witnessed in how we see black and brown people treated by law enforcement.
It's a fundamental policing problem, Cobb says. He says we could address the problem better if we stopped pretending it only affects some groups.
Black shooting deaths by police may get massive coverage. All other such deaths get disappeared.
Can this ridiculous practice produce misperceptions? People, we'll be here all week!
Tomorrow: Kirk Herbstreit, Professor Krug, and the high academic elite
Friday: Do you believe in race? Recalling what Professor Gates said