The Fifth Column

Katherine Mangu-Ward: Using Race to Drum up Criminal Justice Outrage Is A-OK

Reason editor in chief steps into The Fifth Column.

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She's a white girl! ||| Matt Welch
Matt Welch

Who has 10 weirdly long fingers and wants to argue with Kmele Foster about the propriety of using race as a way to talk about criminal injustice? Not this guy, but rather that gal: Reason's own beloved Editor in Chief, Katherine Mangu-Ward.

KMW filled in this week for the ever-elusive Michael C. Moynihan on The Fifth Column, your favorite non-Reason podcast. Discussion, unsurprisingly, touched on a number of pieces published here, including the "listicle" "9 Lessons from the Trump/NFL Anthem Wars," "Health Care Costs Are the Reason You're Not Getting a Raise," "We Need to Talk About Black Students Being Accused of Rape Under Title IX," "Debt Denialists," and much more. Along the way we also tackle tech panics, tax reform, and Go-Go music, not necessarily in that order. You can listen to the whole caboodle here:

Don't forget that on Saturdays you can listen to an hour-long version of The Fifth Column on Sirius XM POTUS (channel 124) at 11 a.m. ET and then again at midnight. More also available at iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, wethefifth.com, @wethefifth, and Facebook.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

83 responses to “Katherine Mangu-Ward: Using Race to Drum up Criminal Justice Outrage Is A-OK

  1. Using Race to Drum up Criminal Justice Outrage Is A-OK

    I’ll give it a listen, but on this simple question, I disagree, it’s not A-OK, because as we’ve seen from the results, it causes major points to be missed.

    An example is Black Lives Matter. Sure, it’s been useful to point out police brutality, but no one is talking about a broad accountability problem, they actually misidentify the problem. And that’s important.

    If you’re trying to fix runaway policing, lack of accountability and shady unions that shield entire departments from their proper scrutiny, and instead say that everything can be fixed by training officers to be more sensitive to black people, you’re simply not going to solve the problem.

    I understand the impulse: Hey! At least they’re talking about the problem! But if you’re talking about the WRONG problem, it ain’t helping. It’s a bit like spraying your house for ants when you have a roof rat problem while claiming that at least you’re doing something.

    1. To be fair, I have seen some BLM groups/people acknowledge the role unions play and push for reforms beyond sensitivity training. I do agree that BLM for a lot of reasons hasn’t been particularly effective in many ways.

      1. You notice that the politicians in charge of the police like and identify with #BLM? That’s your first sign you’re probably not seriously addressing the real problem.

        There was that offshoot group that began to talk about the unions, even while #blm specifically called for strengthening public sector unions as a remedy to racism.

        Politicians like blm because it deflects the issue away from how government itself is structured and instead blames the problem on bad parenting or cultural deficiencies that can be fixed with higher budgets and community legislation.

        1. BLM is a hashtag, it’s not a coherent group, there’s a bunch of groups that call themselves BLM. Also, your first paragraph is only true about politicians in liberal areas, and that’s because their base will crucify them if they oppose them. I don’t disagree that those politicians prefer the conversation stay focused on race and not other aspects of the system.

          1. Fair enough, but I still argue that if politicians in blue areas immediately glom onto a solution, that’s your first sign it’s probably the wrong solution.

      2. I believe it is a part of the core list of BLM grievances. Though in the culture at large that complain against BLM has been washed away. Hell, any specific point from BLM has been washed away and replaced with a vague, all encompassing call out of racism. Which is too bad, people should know a lot of the BLM stuff is solidly Marxist.

    2. Yeah, they’re focusing on one small aspect of the problem: the fact that police abuse is disproportionately directed at those who are in disproportionate contact with the police. If you fix the general police abuse problem, the racial undertones go away as a result. If you just focus on the racial undertones the police will “fix” the problem by brutalizing everyone equally.

    3. I thought it was sarcasm.

      If not…erm, basing reform and policy on faulty premises is not a good idea.

      If this is Reason’s position time to change the name of their publication.

    4. It’s backfiring. It’s putting off the very people they need to reach, the people who don’t already agree.

    5. The problem of “using race” is this case is that it overlooks the broader issues of failed civic institutions ? you get police brutality in the departments where you let unions take the place of internal affairs, you let record keeping slip, you let traffic stops become a fundraising practice, and where parallel civic and bureaucratic bodies int he city are falling into the same traps of being allowed by their peers to get away with bad government and self-enrichment (police being, behind the badge and gun, another department of ‘civil servants’). That’s the reason we see these problems cropping up in the northern Democratic-run cities that are supposed to be Progressive havens rather than where broader racism would be expected to be an issue; failed cities are where peripheral populations are ignored, and poor blacks and Hispanics are the peripheral populations of northern cities (just as poor whites are the peripheral populations of those exurban areas being ravaged by the opioid crisis).

  2. It may or may not be good strategy to emphasize race, since white people can be whiny little bitches about that subject, but as an academic or factual matter, we wouldn’t have the brutal criminal justice system we have if not for race. “Tough on crime” was not about giving little suburban Johnny the what-for, it was about protecting him from scary crackheads from the hood. And also there are the plain statistics.

    But if we can’t do anything because Trumptards don’t want to engage their brains for any reason, then I suppose we can lie to them until they come around on the issue. They’re used to it.

    1. I’m known on this board for acknowledging the role of race in policing more than most here, but I still think you’re wrong in your argument that we wouldn’t have a brutal criminal justice system if not for race. I think it goes beyond that. Yes, it makes it worse but even in lily white suburbs, rural areas, and even states there’s plenty of fucked up things about the policing and justice system. The deference to cops and desire for harsh punishments often go beyond race even if it is a factor for some. You can still find those attitudes very plentiful in cases involving white victims/suspects/offenders.

      1. The Southern Strategy wasn’t about penguins.

        1. Do you think the Southern Strategy is the source of everything fucked up in our justice system?

          1. “Everything” is a strong word. But it was hardly the first or the last successful attempt to give more power to cops and prisons in order to protect our virginal white darlings from the animalistic roaming menace that we let loose in 1865. In parts of the country it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the point of cops was to enforce our apartheid. Race was part of tough policing at least through Clinton.

            I happen to think there is very little in American politics that isn’t about race. But as I said we can pretend otherwise if it helps people get on board with good reforms.

            1. “our virginal white darlings”

              Tony is good at race-baiting. You might say that he is a master of the art.

              1. Cops with itchy trigger fingers and a measure of impunity are the result, and it can victimize white people too. Nobody said blacks were the only victims. Hopefully it won’t take white people experiencing what black people do before we get around to fixing the problem.

                Also see above where I talked about whiny little bitches.

                1. Tony’s “Why Won’t You Fat Inbred Racist Idiots Shut Up And Agree With Me” method of attempting to win people over is gonna work one of these days, you’ll see!

                  1. It worked for Hillary. She got a book deal out of it!

                2. Yeah, bunch of whiny little bitches complaining about being shot.

                  And cops only shoot white people because of anti-black bias.

                  Your position is non-falsifiable, making it meaningless.

                  1. Thesis: We gave the cops the power they have because we implicitly wanted them to police black neighborhoods to keep us safe. It’s why we have the war on drugs too.

                    Cops use that power to kill white people too. You’re just mad that I’m not making the argument you want me to.

                    1. I don’t want you to make any argument, but yeah, what you said is sufficiently similar to my summary for Internet purposes, making allowance for the necessary snark in your direction.

                    2. “We gave the cops the power they have because we implicitly wanted them to police black neighborhoods to keep us safe.”

                      If by “we” and “us” you include people who are black – you *do* have such a broad conception of “we” and “us,” don’t you?

                      “…City University of New York political scientist Michael Javen Fortner…[argues that] punitive narcotics laws were dreamed up not by paranoid suburban housewives but in the church basements and neighborhood newspapers of Harlem and central Brooklyn, where working- and middle-class African Americans, who felt besieged by violent addicts and predatory “pushers,” had long had long agitated for a crackdown.”

                    3. I’m aware of that part of the story. What point are you trying to make with all this?

                    4. That you’re largely full of crap.

                    5. The difference is that KMW, and perhaps libertarians more broadly, propose using race to repair the broken criminal justice system, which will benefit American society at large. Tony proposes to use race to bludgeon his political opponents and feel smug.

                    6. Actually all I’m saying is that to cure a problem you have to diagnose it correctly. And I’m also saying that we can do the opposite if it makes pissy-pants conservatards feel better.

                    7. And that’s how we know that racial quotas will fix police violence.

                      Duh.

                3. Wow. A stopped clock is right twice a day.

                  TONY MADE SOME SENSE!!!!!!!!!

            2. “I happen to think there is very little in American politics that isn’t about race. ”

              Hence, you are the very definition of a racist.

    2. we wouldn’t have the brutal criminal justice system we have if not for race.

      You can just say, “The government is racist.” You don’t need to torture yourself.

    3. Twice as many white people have been killed by cops as black people. More unarmed white men have been killed than unarmed black men (although the numbers are 11 and 10).

      Can you name a single one of those white people killed by police? Do you remember any of these stories being major news stories? There was that Australian woman killed recently, but even that lasted like a day.

      Yes black men are 3X as likely to be killed by cops, but they are also 7X more likely to commit murder. Those aren’t two irrelevant statistics.

      If the media actually reported on the 260+ white people killed by cops so far this year, maybe more people would care.

      1. It’s not Black Lives Matter’s fault that white people can’t get off their fat asses and care about this subject as much as they do.

        1. It’s not Black Lives Matter’s fault that white people can’t get off their fat asses and care about this subject as much as they do.

          It’s certainly a lot easier than confronting the fact that a black person is a lot more likely to be killed by one of his “brothers” than he is by a cop.

          1. Do you think black activists are ignoring that problem? Do you ever even interact with black activist thought, writing, or actions, or do you just have some fat white dickhole on the TV explain it to you?

            1. Black activist spend very little time talking about black on black violence.

              I know when someone insists that the solution to a problem is a solution that will at best address five percent of the problem they don’t really care about the problem the care about the solution. Tony really really hates white non leftist white people so he will embrace and stick that can get the job done.

              1. I am panting in anticipation of you explaining what your solution to black violence is.

                1. For black people to stop killing each other.

      2. Curious question. Does the murder count only convicted murders?

      3. Overwhelming predictor of prison residence? Not race, economic background. Presence of father growing up.

        Thank-you, feminism!!

    4. It may or may not be good strategy to emphasize race, since white people can be whiny little bitches about that subject

      But if we can’t do anything because Trumptards don’t want to engage their brains for any reason,

      Thanks Tony for making it crystal clear as to whether people should mingle the race message with the police violence message.

      Do you want more Trump?

    5. Back in high school I went with a friend to pick up a television at a yard sale. I helped him carry it three blocks home. Cops drove by and stopped HIM and questioned HIM and gave him the third degree about why he was carrying a television down the sidewalk. I was completely ignored. It was a small town and the cops knew who he was and who I was. Why did they single him out and not me? Well, one clue might be that I am somewhat pale and pasty in complexion and he was not…

      1. OK, there’s antiblack racism to contend with – my limited point is that you can take that away and still have police abuse, as indicated by the cases of abuse involving whipiple.

      2. The cop pegged him as the smart one.

      3. It was a small town and the cops knew who he was and who I was. Why did they single him out and not me?

        LOL

    6. It may or may not be good strategy to emphasize race, since white people can be whiny little bitches about that subject,

      Tony: Master of projection.

    7. we wouldn’t have the brutal criminal justice system we have if not for race

      Maybe. But the evidence against includes:
      (1) hippies
      (2) brutal criminal justice systems in racially homogeneous countries.

  3. Using Race to Drum up Criminal Justice Outrage Is A-OK

    I’d agree, but in the hundreds of media articles about NFL kneeling, i’ve hardly seen a single one use the phrase ‘criminal justice’.

    “Racial ineqity”, yes, but nothing specific enough to call ‘policy concerns’.

    basically: if that’s what its supposed to be about? its not working.

    1. i’ve hardly seen a single one use the phrase ‘criminal justice’.

      That moment when you walk into the police station and ask the men of color are they against police brutality and racism, and they say ‘yes.

      Clark, who is also a vocal supporter of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, said the officers also took a knee to back the football player.

      They don’t just support criminal justice reform oppose police brutality, they support criminal justice reform oppose police brutality and support Colin Kaepernick.

      It really is absurd.

      1. What is the difference between kneeling and taking a knee?

        1. The latter is a cutchop-block, and is a 15yd penalty

      2. It really is absurd

        I’m unsure what the correct culture-war signal here is? Should i support the cops who are making their own meaningless-racial-posturing against… other cops?

        to my above point: when does all of this bullshit-symbolic projection of in-group solidarity actually translate to even the tiniest iota of POLICY advocacy?

        Where’s the congressman pushing the bill on ending civil-asset-forfeiture? where’s the state-legislators banning the use of SWAT teams for non-violent offenders? Where are independent review boards on shootings being formed?

        Because i don’t see this racially-centric performative-wokeness actually producing anything except “MUH FLAG!!!”-reactions from the yokel-majority.

  4. Whiskey and water out of a red solo cup. Yup, she’s a white chick.

  5. Just to be clear – because you have to say these things nowadays – I linked to articles about police abuse vs. white people in order to refute Tony’s idea that it’s about black vs. white.

    I wasn’t trying to do a reverse-Tony and say the cops picked on whites qua whites.

    1. You’re responding to an argument nobody made (namely that cops only ever shoot black people). I even said we can pretend that race is irrelevant if it helps fix the problem. This country has a long tradition of getting reform passed only once white people are assured that brown people aren’t the ones benefiting.

      1. Racist Tony says brown people didn’t benefit from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act of 1965!

        1. Well, if he says that he’s probably right in the long run.

        2. And what happened next? Everything we’re fucking talking about right now. I.e., the backlash.

          1. “This country has a long tradition of getting reform passed only once white people are assured that brown people aren’t the ones benefiting.”

            1. Your pedantry is annoying me. Yes we passed civil rights laws. At great political cost. How does this not contribute to my point?

              1. Did white people intend for brown people to benefit from those laws?

                1. The good white people did. It pissed a hell of a lot of the other kind off, though. Yada yada yada, President Donald Trump.

                  1. Why, just the other day, I read the exact same thing in Hillary’s new book: What Happened?, now 40% off!

                  2. Did white people intend for brown people to benefit from the 13th, 14th, 15th and 24th Amendments?

      2. I, for one, look forward to increased diversity and racial sensitivity training FTW!

    2. There are forty times the cases in the same time period of cops shooting mentally-ill white men than shooting black men, and we aren’t having a national conversation on the treatment of mental illness (although perhaps we should). There’s the important distinction between problems existing and how playing with numbers ? or simply treating them in a vacuum ? can change how they appear. That’s been my concern with some of the playing-telephone style response from the Tonys of the world to al of this.

      1. P.S. points for the use of “qua”!

    1. That only proves that they were alive in 1988, and had two ears connected to a butt.

    2. All libertarians should try ass sex at least once. It is what unites us all.

      1. So libertarians have at least that much in common with the British Navy.

        1. Any navy.

      2. Why am I passing this blunt than?

  6. BREAKING NEWS

    REASON CONTRIBUTORS TO GOP: HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PAY FOR THESE TAX CUTS?

    1. I heard that on the Reezun podcast. Almost fell off the sidewalk.

      Their point was that we don’t want more debt.

    2. GOP TO REASON CONTRIBUTORS: MAGIC BEANS.

  7. I guess if you’re not actually serious about solving a problem then intentionally misidentifying the issue to “start a discussion” will work just fine. If you’re trying to actually do something about the problem then you might want to actually stay on topic.

    But sure, in this case yelling RACIST!! is totally going to make things better in a non-divisive manner.

  8. Katherine Mangu-Ward: Using Race to Drum up Criminal Justice Outrage Is A-OK

    Reason now cheers for race baiting. Fantastic. The country can always use a ton more race based fear, hatred, and resentment.

    They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind.

    1. But…but…cocktail parties!

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