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Culture — Not Race — Determines Many Crime Stats

Charting a course through the rocky shoals that sank the USS Derbyshire.

by
Jack Dunphy

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April 19, 2012 - 12:15 am
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Gentle readers, we are about to sail into dangerous waters, on the rocky shoals of which John Derbyshire recently ran aground and got himself sacked from National Review.  So we must do our best to steer carefully through the many hazards lest we come to a similar fate.  Yes, I say “we” because while I, in opining as I am about to on race and crime, may risk losing commercial opportunities as a writer, you the reader face risks as well.  If you travel in those circles in which discussions of race are limited to extolling the many glories of “diversity,” and if after reading what follows below you are found by your peers to be insufficiently condemnatory of me and what I’ve written, you are in jeopardy of being ostracized to a life of social exile among the wretched and unenlightened.

You’ve been warned, so here we go.

I’ve been with the Los Angeles Police Department for somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty years.  (I keep the details of my tenure and assignment vague so as to foil the efforts of those seeking to unmask me, the number of whom may soon increase.)  I’ve spent the better part of my career working in neighborhoods in South and South Central Los Angeles, i.e. those most bedeviled by violent crime.  I have also spent time working in some of L.A.’s most affluent neighborhoods, so I feel qualified to comment on the differences I’ve observed over the course of a long career combating crime and villainy in America’s second-largest city.

For the record, I concur with Mark Steyn, who in his discussion of the Taki’s Magazine piece that got John Derbyshire expelled from National Review, pointed to culture rather than racial determinism as explaining socioeconomic differences between groups of people.  “Why is Haiti Haiti and Barbados Barbados?” Steyn asks.  “Why is India India and Pakistan Pakistan?  Skin color and biological determinism don’t get you very far on that.”

A similar comparison – with similarly stark results – can be made in Los Angeles.  The Los Angeles Times maintains a database of statistical information on cities and neighborhoods across L.A. County.  The communities of View Park-Windsor Hills and Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw are adjacent to one another in an area four to five miles northeast of Los Angeles International Airport.  The concentration of black residents in View Park-Windsor Hills, at 86.5 percent, is the highest of any area measured in the L.A. Times database.  The Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw neighborhood, just to the north, is home to the county’s fifth-highest concentration of blacks, at 71.3 percent.

One subscribing to the notion that any such solidly black neighborhoods must perforce be plagued by violent crime would be surprised to learn that since January 1, 2007, there has been but one homicide in View Park-Windsor Hills, this occurring on the very fringe of the neighborhood where it abuts one known for higher crime.  By contrast, over the same period there have been 32 homicides in Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw.  How to explain the difference?

Looking further at the L.A. Times’s data, we can see that median income is $81,214 in View Park-Windsor Hills but just $37,948 in Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw.  Forty-five percent of the residents in View Park-Windsor Hills have at least a four-year college degree compared to 24.1 percent in Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw.  And the statistic that goes a long way in explaining the disparities in crime, income, and education between the two neighborhoods is just as stark: In View Park-Windsor Hills, just 9.6 percent of families are headed by a single parent, compared with 31.9 percent in Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw.

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