Jason Riley writes in The Wall Street Journal, Was a Judicial Nominee Prejudiced in Her ‘Role as an Advocate’? Nusrat Choudhury claimed police kill unarmed black men in America ‘every day.’ That’s nowhere near true.
Shelby Steele calls them “poetic truths.” They are narratives that play down or disregard reality and facts to advance a favored ideological position. A poetic truth about policing and race in the U.S. has gained currency in recent years, and it was on vivid display last week at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
There is no evidence that police officers kill unarmed black men daily. Black deaths at the hands of police are statistically rare, and those involving unarmed suspects are rarer still. Arrests in the U.S. number more than 10 million in a typical year. According to a database maintained by the Washington Post, police shot 1,054 people in 2021, including 234 whites and 139 blacks. Thirty-three of those shooting victims were unarmed, including eight whites and six blacks.
With all the heat raised about disinformation, little concern is expressed from such disinformation from our most respected sources. Under the persistence of Senator John Kennedy, Choudhury would not correct a patently false statement, even suggesting that speaking as an ‘activist’ somehow made the truthfulness of a statement a secondary consideration (a poetic truth). This is the thinking of a judicial nominee from Columbia University, Princeton University and Yale Law School.
Similarly, Justice Sotomayor made an easily discernable false statement about children hospitalized from Covid from her exalted position on the Supreme Court.
Major media resources perpetuated the myth of widespread killings of unarmed blacks by police in the wake of the George Floyd tragedy. This led to the ‘defund the police’ movement which has led to a spike in urban crimes with minorities becoming the most common victims. Obama was correct, misinformation kills.
Even the most educated and credentialed are subject to cognitive biases, and commitment to a preferred narrative over objective facts.
This is especially true for a government run Ministry of Truth, no matter what you decide to call it.