First a question: If Martin Luther King were alive today, would he be more likely to agree with the anthem that black lives matter, or with the view that all lives matter?
I don’t think it’s a close question. The whole point of the civil rights movement was equality. And in the days of Dr. King, no one thought “equality” meant “equality of outcomes” — which is what the gossamer word “equity” is trying to put over on us today (albeit typically in the disguise of intentionally opaque academic gibberish). “Equality” meant equal standing before the law, and an equal chance at success and living a peaceful life.
Is that what black people are getting now, in the era of progressive prosecutors and criminal justice reform?
I recently saw a chart that gives the answer in one city, Chicago, with as liberal a mayor and city administration as there is to be found. Here it is:
This is a tragedy and a disgrace. The last two years’ surge in murder has grossly disproportionately burdened black people, while the white murder rate has remained about what it was before (and much, much lower than the black murder rate).
The first obligation of government is to protect the lives and physical safety of its citizens. The story in Chicago is probably worse than most, but similar if slightly less ghastly stories are being told in Philadelphia, Baltimore and other “progressive” strongholds from coast to coast. Black people are far less safe than they had been. Overall in this country, blacks are about 12% or 13% of the population, but 54% of the murder victims.
This would be reprehensible under any circumstances, but is particularly reprehensible because we know how to do better, and only recently — for an entire generation up until eight years ago — we were in fact doing better, much better. The murder rate was cut by more than half from 1991 to 2014, and blacks were the primary beneficiaries of this massive improvement. See the statistics compiled here (which are bad enough even while missing the startling increases in murder in 2020 and 2021).
What were we doing in the era of declining murder that we’ve stopped doing now? Hiring more police rather than defunding them; supporting the police rather than engaging in grandstanding prosecutions (see, e.g., the Freddy Gray indictments); engaging in more proactive policing rather than bake sales and kumbaya hand-holding; and understanding that incarceration for violent criminals is the answer not the problem.
If we are to give black people a fair shake, an equal chance not merely at dignity but at life itself — in other words, if we are to believe that black lives actually do matter as a matter of sober, on-the-ground criminal justice policy rather than woke sloganeering — we already know the answer. In the name of the genuine humanity we celebrate on Martin Luther King Day, it’s time to restore it.
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