Monday, June 29, 2020

Survey Time

Today's email:

On 2 Jun 20, Secretary Barrett, General Goldfein, and General Raymond directed the Department of the Air Force Inspector General to conduct a review into specific racial disparities in the Department of the Air Force. This effort is independent, under the direct authority of the Secretary. The report we produce will tell it like it is. And, once the review is complete, it will be widely and publicly available.

We want to encourage all our enlisted, officer, and civilian Air and Space Professionals to share your experiences and concerns, and we want to empower you to be a part of the solution. Your experiences and perspectives are critical, and your voices will be heard. We have a tremendous opportunity here, please take a few minutes to contribute to this enormously important effort by taking this anonymous, voluntary survey.

A sample:

Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements:

  • Enlisted, officer, and civilian Black/African American Airmen and Space Professionals feel a sense of inclusion, camaraderie, and belonging in my organization.

  • Enlisted, officer, and civilian Black/African American Airmen and Space Professionals are comfortable talking about race and ethnic diversity with their colleagues and leadership.

  • My organization values the contributions and ideas of enlisted, officer, and civilian Black/African American Airmen and Space Professionals.

  • Enlisted, officer, and civilian Black/African American Airmen and Space Professionals have the same opportunities for mentorship, feedback, and role models as others in my organization.

  • Black/African American Airmen and Space Professionals are treated differently than other Airmen and Space Professionals in the local community outside of my installation.

It seems that the only honest answer to how anyone else "feels" or what anyone else is "comfortable talking about" would be: How could I know that? I can only answer for myself.

Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements:

  • In my organization, military Black/African American Airmen and Space Professionals receive administrative disciplinary actions (LOCs/LOAs/LORs) more frequently than other Airmen and Space Professionals for the same behavior.

  • I have witnessed supervisors/commanders engage in overt discrimination against military Black/African American Airmen and Space Professionals when they give disciplinary action.

  • military Black/African American Airmen and Space Professionals are less likely to receive the "benefit of the doubt" in disciplinary actions.

Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements:

  • My organization provides recognition to enlisted, officer, and civilian Black/African American Airmen and Space Professionals on an equal and fair basis as compared to other Airmen and Space Professionals.

  • My organization provides opportunities to promote and to advance enlisted, officer, and civilian Black/African American Airmen and Space Professionals on an equal and fair basis as compared to other Airmen and Space Professionals.

  • I have seen bias as it relates to career development opportunities for enlisted, officer, and civilian Black/African American Airmen and Space Professionals.

I'm pretty sure this is the most explicitly biased survey from the Air Force I have ever seen. At least in theory, men, for instance, could also report sexual discrimination and harassment in the multitudinous surveys on that subject. But here only anti-black bias can be reported, not anti-Asian (or anti-Mormon, for that matter) bias.

I certainly would not argue that all Air Force decision-making processes are in some sense metaphysically "fair"; on the contrary, I would assert the opposite. Nor would I maintain that no decision-makers are not biased against blacks (or if you prefer, biased along non-mission-related criteria that correlate with black to their disadvantage). But I would also predict that other decision-makers are both consciously and unconsciously biased in favor of blacks, and that these biases more-or-less cancel each other out overall. But to know this, the Air Force must ask both sets of questions.

Will this survey be the extent of the USAF's "review into specific racial disparities"? It is not implausible (though also not likely) that a careful review of, say, disciplinary actions over which commanders have some discretion might reveal systematic bias against some group or another (as opposed to merely showing that blacks in the Air Force are also more likely to misbehave). But asking people about their beliefs and feelings will only reveal the level of black grievance and entitlement.

You can only find what you look for. You may not find it, but you definitely won't find anything else. Let's suppose

Monday, June 22, 2020

Conversation: It Doesn't Mean What You Think

For Example:

You may know or have felt the racial tensions happening throughout the country. Before CMSgt XXXXXX left, Capt Jeff YYYYY hosted a dialogue called “Continuing the Conversation” between Col ZZZZZZ, Mr. QQQQQQQQ, and Chief XXXXXX on current events, race, and the importance of open, effective communication in the workplace. I encourage you to listen to the conversation, and also read the letter from the Secretary of the Air Force titled “Equality” concerning this hard topic.

Furthermore, I would like to give some resources to facilitate that continued conversation. Winston Churchill once said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” I encourage you to sit down with your teammates and courageously listen to their stories about diversity and inclusion to include the hard topic of race. I would also encourage you not to say “I do not see color” or “I do not see race” because you are inadvertently saying, “I do not see you or how your differences enhance our team.” These conversations should not create a culture of shame but awareness. It will take an open heart, mind, and ears to have this conversation.

On the one hand, for a white person, in 2020, to "not see race" is to be pretty naive. I don't want to judge too harshly; in fact, this was exactly what I myself would have said thirty years ago. But today, such a person ought to acquaint herself with the crime statistics, or watch any number of YouTube/Twitter videos of random white people being set upon by mobs of blacks. To "not see race" is to be disarmed in a very hostile world.

But that said, how does Col X justify excluding the person whose perspective on "diversity and inclusion" is, "What about all that business about 'content of our character' and such? Wasn't the whole point of giving the political Left well nigh unchallenged control over race policy for 50 years precisely to get to a place where we 'do not see race'. But instead, we've arrived at a place where, for instance, the USAF's senior enlisted leader says that his primary identity is not that of an airman, nor even that of an American, but that of a 'Black man who happens to be the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force' [emphasis added]".

Again, that's not my perspective, not anymore. My perspective is that racial differences, as such, do not "enhance our team"; rather they only ever leverage imagined grievances to obtain the power to lecture everyone else, who are expected to listen in silence.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Happy Juneteenth

I received the following from an outfit called People's Action:

"Juneteenth, a day that honors Black freedom and Black resistance and honors Black people’s unique contribution to the struggle for justice in the United States."

From Wikipedia:

. . . to commemorate Union army general Gordon Granger announcing federal orders in the city of Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, proclaiming that all slaves in Texas were now free.

So, yes, "Black freedom". But "Black resistance"? "Black people's unique contribution"? Not especially. Rather, emancipation was something done for blacks by white unionists, much as the transatlantic slave-trade was abolished by the British. This was something of a historical aberration; generally, when a people stopped being enslaved, it was because they developed a sufficiently strong nation-state to stop it themselves, much as Europe, led by America, stopped the trafficking in Europeans by the Barbary Pirates. Africans got to skip that step.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Police Shootings, By The Numbers

I received an email from with this sentence:

The murder of George Floyd, after the murder of Breonna Taylor, after the murder of Tony McDade, in the midst of a pandemic that kills Black and Brown people at twice the rate of white people, has reflected in stark reality an inequitable system affecting all aspects of our lives.

Wait . . . who is Tony McDade? From WGCU Tallahassee:

McDade, a black transgender man [i.e., a biological woman], is accused of fatally stabbing 21-year-old Malik Jackson just minutes before being shot and killed by police. Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell told media at the scene that McDade was holding a gun when the officer opened fire and killed him . . . . During a court hearing last week, PBA attorney Stephen Webster described the officer’s actions as “absolutely, defensible, understandable and predictable acts of self-defense,” citing a video posted to McDade’s Facebook page prior to his death that shows McDade talking about a potential standoff with police.

For reasons I can't recall, I came across an article in the Daily Beast that had this sentence:

In the midst of two pandemics—the coronavirus and police brutality against unarmed black people, including the recent killings of George Floyd, David McAtee, and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police—the adult industry is having a long-overdue conversation about the racism that has infected so many aspects of the adult world, from the marketing of scenes to the amount workers are paid.

Again, we have the first-string players, Floyd and Taylor, accompanied by a walk-on, David McAtee:

The fatal shot that killed west Louisville restaurateur David McAtee came from the Kentucky National Guard, according to preliminary findings from an investigation of the shooting announced Tuesday by state officials. LMPD officials have said McAtee was first to shoot, and the officers and Guard members returned fire. On Tuesday, Brown backed up that claim. He said gunshot residue was found on McAtee’s body and two casings recovered near the door of the restaurant matched the ammunition he carried in a pistol that same night.

There seems to be a pattern where advocacy organizations and their journalistic mouthpieces pad the list of bad police shootings (and there are many) with justified police shootings (and there are many of those as well). I sought to evaluate police shootings along two axes: how justified the shooting was, and how much punishment the responsible officer received.

Guilt Scale
1Justified Force
3Inappropriate Force
4Intent to kill

Punishment Scale

Here is my list, by no means complete:

George Floyd33
Laquan McDonald44
Freddie Gray22.5
Christine Damond44
John Crawford41
Michael Brown12
Trayvon Martin13
Duncan Lemp3.51
Eric Garner22
Philando Castille43
Breonna Taylor3.51
William Green43
Allan George3.51
Dennis Tuttle3.51
Tamir Rice31
Jemel Roberson31
Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr3.51
Richard Black3.51
Jason Erik Washington31
Zachary Champommier31
Daniel Shaver41.5

Here is the graph:

Oh, yeah, that long list of names in the lower right you've never heard of? Mostly white victims.

A few notes:

  • Media accounts differ as to what happened in the Tamir Rice shooting. Some say that he "pulled" the toy gun when the officer approached and ordered him to raise his hands. If this were true, I would regard the shooting as mostly justified; his toy gun looked real enough, and no reasonable officer would NOT shoot under those circumstances. However, other accounts say that Rice merely "reached" for the gun, which sounds bogus: just about all innocent arm movements could be characterized as "reaching" for something on one's person for this to be a valid justification, and it is on this account that I base my rating.

  • Most of the "3.5" guilt-scale ratings attempt to provide some consideration for the Fog of War inherent in serving no-knock drug warrants. The officers bear primary responsibility for creating that fog, reason enough to forbid the practice of raids in which officers do anything other than knock on the door, wait for an answer, and present the warrant to the occupant before proceeding.

  • The 2.5 punishment-scale rating for the officers implicated in Freddy Gray's death are because they were prosecuted and acquitted, but not discharged. The 1.5 rating for the officer who shot Daniel Shaver reflects that the officer was initially fired, but then temporarily rehired so he could qualify for a pension.

  • The standout miscarriages of justice are in the Trayvon Martin shooting (where George Zimmerman was manifestly justified in using deadly force but prosecuted anyway) and John Crawford III (whose murderers are still on the Beavercreek, Ohio police force).

  • Note that this list does NOT include the many, many unjustified police shootings and excessive force cases in which the victim fortunately survived.

There is some subjectivity in assigning these ratings, but I am confident that I am within ± 0.5 of where it ought to be. That said, I will would be happy to consider any evidence that you, my two-dozen or so faithful readers, might present for re-characterization.

Sunday, June 07, 2020

BLM by the Numbers

Ahmaud Arbery was killed on 23 February. George Floyd was killed on 25 May. Who else was killed during those three months? Here are some names you probably haven't heard:

This is not a complete list of non-blacks killed by blacks; on the contrary, the Molson Coors plant shooting included Jesus Valle, whom I take to be Puerto Rican. And it probably isn't a complete list even of non-Hispanic whites killed by blacks, only the ones I know. But in that category, this is representative of the pace of black-on-white murders that I hear about, so let's say 100 / year.

Last I wrote about it, the Tuskegee Institute estimated that 3446 blacks were killed during the Golden Age of Lynching, 1882 - 1968. Many of those murders were motivated by white racism. That comes to about 40 / year.

David Dinkins, New York City's first (and last) black mayor served in office 1990 - 1993. During those four years, New York City suffered 8331 murders. These are the NYC's four highest murder rate years in its history. I don't know how many of them were black, but more recent statistics suggest 80%. So let's assume 1666 blacks murdered per year in NYC alone.

Exit questions:

  • Who is more dangerous to blacks, white racists or black Democrat politicians?

  • Who is more dangerous, white racists to blacks or blacks to all whites?

Please answer in the comments.