There are some issues that trigger these almost-innate automatic responses from people in an attempt to undermine the issue. And it’s not always a clear political divide that separates the debaters from the original issue. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, at first I blamed it on cognitive dissonance (the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change) but I’m starting to acknowledge it’s often due to being uninformed, so I’m going to to tackle these reflexive responses. And then I’m going to take off the Empathy Cape that helps me give people the benefit of the doubt and I’m going to RANT A LOT ABOUT THESE ARGUMENTS at the very end just because I need to vent a little, thanks.
- VOTER FRAUD – This is the excuse given any time legislation is pushed to make voting more difficult. We have to stop voter fraud! Well, one study found that most reported incidents of voter fraud are actually traceable to other sources, such as clerical errors or bad data matching practices…found incident rates between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent. Another study from the Washington Post found only 31 credible instances of impersonation fraud from 2000 to 2014, out of more than 1 billion ballots cast. And then there’s The Fifth Circuit, in an opinion finding that Texas’s strict photo ID law is racially discriminatory, noted that there were “only two convictions for in-person voter impersonation fraud out of 20 million votes cast in the decade” before Texas passed its law. If you need more research and resources there’s tons here.
- BLACK ON BLACK CRIME – This is the response given any time people are trying to systemic racism. I’ve heard it thrown out when discussing racism in the criminal justice system and I’ve heard to in response to racial disparities in discipline reports from schools. This is one you hear on Fox News all the time, but the statistics tell us over and over again that there’s no “black on black crime” any more than there’s “white on white crime”. (90.1 percent of black victims of homicide were killed by other blacks, while 83.5 percent of whites were killed by other whites – source.) The undeniable truth across racial divides is that most victims of crime personally know their attackers. Period. And since we self-segregate, most crime happens with the victim and the assailant being of the same race. And the most important statistic to me is: less than 1 percent of black people overall (about 2 percent of black men) commit a violent crime in any given year and if you factor in interracial violent offenses, 99 percent of black men do not commit black-on-black crime.
- SOME VICTIMS LIE ABOUT SEXUAL ASSUALT Only 2-8% of rapes are falsely reported which is comparable to any other felony. The source for this also discusses the difficulty in pinpointing that specific percentage as many studies simply allow police officers to rule a claim was false if it the victim never pursued to have charges filed. And the much more damning statistic is that Only 344 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means about 2 out of 3 go unreported.
And Now…My Rant
I will give people who use these arguments the benefit of the doubt if they listen to a lot of Fox News (which discusses Black on Black Crime and Voter Fraud in hour-long panels) or if they read a lot of male-dominated media (Example: Reddit is giving the Jeremy Priven story about false allegations – which may not even be false – much higher billing than any other recent allegations of sexual assault) and are therefore simply uninformed.
But…I’m going to put aside the benefit of the doubt for a second because it’s often a CHOICE to be that uninformed. And I can say this confidently because I spent the first part of my adult life CHOOSING to be uninformed. These are great statistics that fit into a narrative of a world view where White Men Deserve All Of The Statistically Imbalanced The Power That They Have. White men commit less crimes! White men simply deserve to be voted into office at MUCH MUCH MUCH higher percentages than they exist in the general population because they’re the best candidates. Women are fragile and untrustworthy! Blacks are violent and aggressive!
These false arguments outlined above with their lack of statistical evidence still uphold all of those ideas that help keep the status quo. White men still hold the vast majority of elected positions even though they are 31% of the general population. You have two choices: 1) either you believe White Men are Better and therefore they get to those positions based on merit (Which – for the record – is racist) or 2) you acknowledge the systems are stacked in their favor. And these false arguments above help support the idea that our system is totally a meritocracy and white men are succeeding at higher rates because they DESERVE it.
If you have used any of those three arguments above and find yourself resisting the statistics that counter balance those arguments, ask yourself: Are you trying to justify an unfair system? And why?
I am not saying we should not be concerned about incidents of black-on-black crime, or voter fraud, or false sexual assault allegations. I’m just saying that these things do not carry the statistical weight that some media give them. And we are using these arguments to continue ignoring issues that REALLY NEED OUR ATTENTION: Systemic Racism in our Criminal Justice System and Voter Suppression and Rape Culture keeping victims silent. Those issues actually remove the voice of our fellow citizens in two very tragic ways and those things – STATISTICALLY – need much more of our attention.
It’s scary to disrupt the status quo, and I say this as white person who benefits a lot from it. Not as much as my male counterparts, but still…the system favors me and some days it’s easier to just assume I deserve it. But the days are gone where I blindly accept my privilege without acknowledging the people whose rights were ripped away in the process. I think when faced with statistics that support the racist structure we’ve built our culture on? We all need to err on the side of “Disrupting The System” any chance we get.