As the wave of indignation and demonstrations continues in the United States following the death of an African-American man, George Floyd, during a brutal police intervention in Minneapolis (Minnesota), the Far-right networks are trying to spread the idea that in the United States, whites are more victims of blacks than vice versa. For this, they divert official statistics.
What the publications say
The same idea comes up in different forms: the real victims of violence are white people. This is what the polemicist Eric Zemmour said on Monday 1er June on CNews, during the program “Face à l’info”:
“Lblacks are killed first by blacks, 97%. Then we can see that (…) whites are twice as likely to be killed as blacks: there are roughly 8,000 white deaths per year and 4,000 blacks, and of these 8,000 whites, 80% are killed by blacks, while black people are mostly killed by black peoples. “
The passage, extracted by far-right activist Damien Rieu, has been shared thousands of times on Twitter.
#Zemmour on the #GeorgeFloyd case: “Black people are 97% killed by black people. 80% of whites are killed by n … https://t.co/dPI6hh8Zby
Others circulate a pamphlet dubbed “Interracial Violent Crime Incidents 2018”. This highlights the disproportion between the high number of white victims of assault by blacks or by Hispanics (547,948 and 365,299 cases respectively) on the one hand, and the 59,778 cases of blacks assaulted by whites, the other. The image mocks the silence of the media for the former, and their indignation for the latter.
Why Eric Zemmour’s figures are wrong
As the AFP notes, Eric Zemmour takes over the figures agitated by Donald Trump in 2015. However, these were partly false. According to FBI data for 2014 homicides, in Blanc’s homicide cases, the perpetrators are black in 14.8% of the cases, not 80%.
In 2018, the last year for which FBI statistics are available, the proportion rises to 15.5%, still very far from the four-fifths mentioned by the far-right polemicist.
As for the proportion of intra-community homicides among blacks, it is indeed very high, but stands at 88.9%, not 97%. High intra-community mortality that Cécile Coquet-Mokoko, professor of American civilization at the University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin, attributes to gangs. “They have an important place in poor ghettos, where drug trafficking is seen as the only way to make ends meet. “
Another notable feature of the FBI figures: the number of black homicides is almost as high as that of whites, while blacks represent only 13.4% of the population, against 76.5% for whites. As AFP notes, blacks are almost seven times more likely to be killed than whites in the United States.
FBI homicide figures must also be taken with some caution, as the US institutional system statistically disadvantages the poor. This is the case, for example, castle laws or grand laws stand, federal self-defense laws, which allow homicide to be reclassified as self-defense in the event of a home crime.
Conversely, defendants from poor minorities are urged by court-appointed lawyers to plead guilty in homicide cases in the hope of obtaining a remission of sentence. Particularly when, due to a criminal record, the people’s jury seems unable to be convinced of their innocence. ” It’s a vicious circle “, Cécile Coquet-Mokoko pin.
Why this graphic is an “intellectual scam”
Contrary to Mr. Zemmour’s allegations, the graph circulating on social networks is based on correct figures. These data are taken from a report published in September 2019 by the office of judicial statistics of the US Department of Defense. Written by two statisticians, Rachel E. Morgan and Barbara A. Oudekerk, it relates to the analysis of complaints filed in 2018 for acts of violence, whether of assault and battery, break-ins, or even sexual violence.
What about interracial violence, on which the graph focuses? His figures are correct: 547,948 complaints were lodged by a white victim against an attacker whom she identified as black, against 59,778 complaints – almost ten times less – from a black victim against an alleged white aggressor.
But the graph is free from one of the basic rules of methodology: it extrapolates data in absolute value from a table of statistics of the color of the aggressors and the attacked expressed in percentage.
In this case, American demography is not made up of equal parts of whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians, and comparing them in absolute terms makes no sense, alert Laurent Mucchielli, director of research in sociology at CNRS, specialist in the sociology of delinquency:
“If you take a group of 100 people with white hair and 10 of them have lice, that’s 10%. And if you take a group of 1,000 people who have dark hair and 100 of them have lice, it’s still 10%. So there are as many lice in black hair as white hair. But if you say that there are only 10 white hairs who have lice while there are 100 in black hair, it does not make sense since you are comparing two populations whose number is totally different . It is an intellectual scam used because you want to demonstrate that there is more lice in black hair than in white hair. “
If with 3.5 million complaints lodged, the white population appears to be the most victim of violent acts, it is because it is the largest population in the country. But the percentage of complaints filed by whites (66%) or blacks (11%) corresponds, in fact, almost perfectly to their weight in the demography of the United States.
The table produced by the office of the American judicial statistics does not say at any time that the Whites are more victims of interracial violence. “The article shows above all what has been known for more than seventy years, namely that the crimes are above all intraracial (and not interracial): 62% of the alleged assailants of whites were themselves whites, 70 % of the alleged black assailants were themselves black. The difference between Black on White and White on Black is not very significant (10.6 versus 15.3) “, analyzes Laurent Mucchielli. The study authors also point out that only 43% of acts of violence are the subject of a complaint.
Finally, the far-right rhetoric employed here does not respond to the problem raised by the Black Lives Matter movement, which is that of police violence and state racism. As shown by a large study of Washington Post on police violence, blacks are twice as likely to be killed by police as whites.
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