Columnist doesn’t know what systematic racism is

Dale Courtney’s June 24 opinion piece on the Black Lives Matter movement struck me as a racist diatribe in the guise of a reasoned essay.

His piece is front-loaded, with the first paragraph mentioning that four recent academic studies have demonstrated that “there is no systemic police brutality directed toward minorities.”

Courtney seems to have a vested interest in readers taking his word for it, since he provides no citations, article titles or quotations. One can only assume, for example, that the PNAS article Courtney vaguely gestures toward is “Officer Characteristics and Racial Disparities in Fatal Officer-Involved Shootings,” by Johnson et al. This article received some press for its controversial assertion that “white officers are not more likely to shoot minority civilians than nonwhite officers.”

But Dean Knox and Jonathan Mummolo have shown in their response letter, “Making Inferences About Racial Disparities in Police Violence,” that the Johnson et al. analysis only examines whether a person fatally shot by police is more likely to be Black (or Hispanic) than white. Johnson himself acknowledged the gap between the data and his brow-raising assertion in a preprint response to Knox and Mummolo. Of course white people are more likely to be killed by the police. They comprise about 70 percent of the U.S. population. That doesn’t mean systemic racism is a myth.

After his pseudo-scientific opener, Courtney really starts to let it all hang out. He misuses more statistics, failing to account for several contextual factors, such as segregation, population disparities and the cascading effects of generational poverty.

This is all because Dale Courtney doesn’t actually know what systemic racism is. His approach is more emotional than academic, as he demonstrates later in the article by claiming that Black people “murdered” 300,000 “pre-born Black babies” in 2018.

Taylor Gould

Moscow

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