The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Time Guest Columnist Uses Falsehood from Racist Group to Support Thesis in Article About Oklahoma Killing

By Don Terry on August 23, 2013 - 4:10 pm, Posted in Anti-Black

John McWhorter, a professor of linguistics at Columbia University and the author of several well-regarded books, often appears on cable television news shows as the black, clear-eyed centrist on issues of race.

But in an essay that appeared on the Time magazine website Thursday about young black men, violence and the senseless killing of a white college baseball player, Christopher Lane, in Oklahoma, McWhorter veered way to the radical racist right.

To support his assertion that “young black men murder 14 times more than young white men,” McWhorter linked directly to an article saying the same thing on the website of the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC). The CCC, founded in 1985, is the linear descendent of the old White Citizens Councils, which were formed in the 1950s and 1960s to battle school desegregation in the South, and it has evolved into a crudely racist organization. It’s website, for example, has referred to black people as “a retrograde species of humanity.”

On top of that ugly history, the CCC article McWhorter linked to – “Young blacks committed homicides at nearly 14 times the rate young whites did in 2010” – is unquestionably wrong.

The CCC based its blog post on a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report titled “Homicide Rates Among Persons Aged 10-24 Years – United States, 1981-2010.” Contrary to the assertion of the CCC, the report actually quantifies the rate at which various racial and age groups are victims of homicide, not the rate at which various groups kill.

“You won’t find that in the report,” someone who worked on the report told Hatewatch. “It’s about victims.”

Hatewatch sent McWhorter an email asking for an interview and whether he knew about CCC’s past and present when linking to its site, but he did not immediately respond.

The headline on his essay in the Ideas section of the Time website is “Don’t Ignore Race in Christopher Lane’s Murder.”

Good advice, perhaps. But McWhorter doesn’t follow it himself.

He writes that two of the three teens charged with killing the 22-year-old baseball player from Australia on August 16th are black. But he fails to mention that the oldest suspect in the case, the one driving the car used in the random killing, is a 17-year-old white youth named Michael Dewayne Jones.

And, as it turns out, only one of the three teens is black: James Francis Edwards Jr., 15.

The suspected triggerman, Chancey Allen Luna, 16, is biracial, District Attorney Jason M. Hicks told Nolan Clay, a columnist for The Oklahoman.

Lane, the college baseball player, was shot in the back August 16 as he jogged down a street in Duncan, Okla. The prosecutor has called it a “thrill killing.”

“At this time we don’t have any evidence to suggest that Lane was killed because of his nationality or because of his race,” the prosecutor told The Oklahoman. “There’s just not anything in there that they targeted him because of one of those two factors.”

  • john browne

    the ‘house negro’ speaks again. we got his number.

  • Kiwiwriter

    “Eduardo Garcia said,

    on August 26th, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    So now watch, the SPLC is going to try to get John McWhorter fired from his job at Columbia University.”

    Well, Lon Chaney, if you are so concerned about Professor McWhorter losing his job…don’t just sit there and whine here about it…

    You’re a “white civil rights activist,” a fellow college professor, with a Ph.D., and deeply connected to that movement, I suggest you connect with Professor McWhorter up at Columbia and offer your services in his defense. You’ve told us here that you have strong and powerful arguments that you can make for your cause, and I’m sure you can use them on his behalf.

    You might want to let him know that you’re a white civil rights activist, and he might be interested in some of the views you’ve posted here…

    You know, about blacks being an inferior species to to whites, about your obsessions about pushy black women in supermarkets, and how they raise their buttocks in “mating rituals,” and some of your other hilarious public statements, like:

    “The answer is very simple. In our movement we have changed the very definitions of Logic itself. Anything that supports the revolution is logical. Anything opposed, by definition, is illogical. After the revolution we will hire thousands of new Historians to write new History books. In these new books we will be portrayed as good, moral, and ethical. Our enemies will be portrayed as immoral, unethical, and evil. And that will fix the problem. One thousand years from now, in the history books, white patriots will be portrayed as heroes. Our enemies, portrayed as devils. Thus, the problem will be fixed.”

    “America is an evil country. While our brave young men were fighting in the East to stop the Asiatic hoards [sic], America bombed our civilians. There were no German soldiers left in the cities near the end of WWII. There were only babies, old people, young children, women. Yet the Americans bombed these civilians. During all this time our brave young men were fighting against Communism. America is an evil country. America fought on the side of evil during WWII. And evil won that war.”

    You can also answer these questions:

    61. You are apparently well-informed on the sexual practices and movements of black women, saying that black women move their rumps in a similar fashion to those of apes, to attract men. What research have you undertaken in this field, and where can your reports be found?
    62. Did that research include sexual encounters with black women? If so, please list all of them, the types of encounters, positions used, the personal information about the involved persons, and whether or not these encounters were provided willingly or for hire.
    63. Did you practice “safe sex” during this research?
    64. How do you square these acts of miscegenation with Nazi racial laws that forbid such behavior?
    65. Have any of these encounters resulted in children? If so, are you supporting them?
    66. Does watching documentaries about remote African tribes make one an expert on African-American life?
    67. You have written posts complaining about loud and pushy black women in supermarkets. Are loud and pushy women in supermarkets a threat to America’s survival?
    68. Are loud and pushy black women in supermarkets a threat to America’s future?
    69. Are you being forced to marry or reproduce with loud and pushy black women?
    70. Why are you so obsessed with loud and pushy black women in supermarkets?
    71. Are these loud and pushy black women preventing you from shopping?
    72. Have you written a peer-reviewed academic paper on loud and pushy black women in supermarkets? If so, please provide the link.
    73. Does watching music videos featuring loud black women and seeing loud and pushy black women make you an expert on famine in the Ukraine in the 1930s?
    74. Are you sexually obsessed with loud and pushy black women?
    75. You indicate a fascination with loud and pushy black women. Do you find quiet and polite black women sexually attractive?
    76. Please list any and all black women that you find sexually attractive.
    77. In what field did you earn your Ph.D. and where can we find your dissertation?
    78. You claim that you answer all arguments with data. Please provide links to this data, and show that it has met academic standards. (As a Ph.D. with tenure at a university, you must know what those are)

    And you still owe apologies to Mark Potok for your insolent and infantile behavior, and explanations to us about your plan to build a “profile” of us based on our “sexual orientation” and “arrest history.”

    Maybe Professor McWhorter will be interested in that.

    Oh, and tell him what you think about academics. How they: “all probably live in a college town in a crummy basement apartment, doing drugs, with no job, never even had a girlfriend. They’re probably all gay, unattractive, effeminate, overweight slobs. Basically deviants. So they get mad when they see a normal healthy man who has a job, looks good, is clean cut, and has a real job and a wife and family, and has a nice home and car he worked for. So these losers are all jealous.”

    He’ll love that….

  • Brettjor

    After all of this I’d love to see Professor John McWhorter’s response. Is this hate, is this stupidity, or is this something else.
    I’m not convinced in any direction from what I read.

  • Elaine T. Cole

    This is the very same conversation I had with a colleague. A guest speaker suggested that low-income parents are less likely to read books to their children, and used statistics to support it. The argument I proposed was that the low-income parents are less likely to purchase new books, yet certainly obtain used, borrowed, and gifted books. When at the library, I see families from low-income families. They may not have Kindles, yet certainly check out children’s reading materials. There are several literacy programs they take advantage of, and thrift shop for books. The speaker also used these same stats to argue regarding Black youth and violent crime.
    Of course, we have a serious problem. Yet, lets not continue to suggest that it is a Black problem. I would assume other races want to have the information to deal effectively with their own problems. That is, unless they view it as a societal problem, as well it is. Thank you for looking deeper and providing clarity.

  • Charles Dan Austin

    I love words! I never met a word I didn’t like myself and think linguists may be the hope of the world . Regardless of his race Mr. McWhorter needs to throw any answer not proven scientifically out as being uncertain and possibly un provable.

  • Dan Zabetakis

    “Dan, don’t crime committed by people of all colors should be examined? Why only single out one demographic?”

    Because that is what the article was about? Maybe?

  • A.D.M.

    Allen, Michael Jones is white. Get over it. Dan, don’t crime committed by people of all colors should be examined? Why only single out one demographic?

  • Aron

    ‘Eduardo,’ obviously you have no idea what ‘tenure’ is.

  • Eduardo Garcia

    So now watch, the SPLC is going to try to get John McWhorter fired from his job at Columbia University.

  • concernedcitizen

    Very well put Kiwiwriter.

  • concernedcitizen

    “Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America,”

    This is ridiculous. I have watched as groups of racist harass, stalk and steal personal information and use it to try and torture their targets emotionally. They do these activities because they are losers in life. Given that they have nothing else to do with their trashy existence they can pit their victims into violent encounters. All the while they stand back and lie and then point fingers at the victims stating: “see they are the problem, they are the criminals”. When in fact it is the workings of nothing more than their groups who are the criminally insane, walking freely amongst innocent Americans.

    Ignorance loves to hide it’s true face and use others as its scapegoat.

  • allen

    The “white” kid is not white, I am from Oklahoma, he was hispanic.

  • Dan Zabetakis

    I looked up some statistics. The first hard facts I could find are the number of arrests. This isn’t a perfect statistic to use, but is probably a reasonable approximation since regardless of whether the arrestee is charged or convicted, it means the police think they have a good idea of the race of the perpetrator.

    Number of arrests for murder and non-negligent manslaughter, 2011:

    White: 4000
    Black: 4149

    Census bureau population statistics, 2011:

    Black, alone or in combination: 41.6 million
    White, non-hispanic: 197.4 million

    Arrests as a proportion:

    White: 0.02 per thousand
    Black: 0.1 per thousand

    So you can say that black people are 5 times more likely to be arrested for murder than white people.

  • aadila

    Ok, thanks, Dan. You already did.

  • Dan Zabetakis

    “You outrageously racialize the issue when you state, even obliquely, that crime committed by blacks is due to race,”

    I didn’t say that. In fact I said the exact opposite.

    If you like, I can come by with a ladder to help you down from your high horse…

  • aadila

    When we talk about social problems such as violence, one thing that comes to mind is how difficult it is to get the average American worshiper of individualism to see the underlying social structures which cause racism, hate and so on to exist.

    At some level we can point to all that stuff going on around us and say it has nothing to do with me as an individual. Or we can turn it around and say, this applies to everyone in a given subset, without regard for individual choices and actions. In either case the problem is that we view the problems of our society as arising from somewhere other than ourselves.

    We can’t look at violence and race as separate from the individuals involved, but I also think it is deeply misguided to think that those individuals exist in a vacuum of underlying social structures which are quite beyond the power of any individual, acting alone, to reshape.

    If we truly want to see a society with less violence and fewer examples of racism, I think it is important to address both individual action as well as the institutions, ideologies, and social dynamics that arise from collective actions.

    In other words we cannot blame the individual or blame society, we need to address the intersection of the individual in the public sphere.

    Anything else transforms progressive political activism into a kind of commercial commodity which is sold back to us by the very same people who refuse to budge when it comes to making the kinds of changes needed for a better society.

  • CM

    As a former fellow at the Manhattan Institute – one of those so-called “conservative think tanks” that really are nothing but far-right propaganda mills – it’s not at all surprising that McWhorter isn’t picky about his sources. When you’re all about manufacturing bogus arguments, you take your “evidence” where you can find it.

    And as the author of a book (“Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America,”) that claims that black people’s own behavior is a more important causal factor than racial discrimination in African Americans’ socioeconomic struggles – again, no surprises here. After all, that’s what white racist groups like the CCC have been claiming since, like, forever.

  • concernedcitizen

    It appears to me that Professor McWhorter violated a very simple rule of research as any good law student knows, perhaps they don’t get that information in journalism, but you really need to check your resources and use only those that are credible.

  • Kiwiwriter

    Unfortunately, throughout history, journalists on deadline, or with penknives to grind, or who are simply not well-educated, have made innumerable blunders of commission or omission in the pursuit of that all-important scoop or in just trying to fill (as in this case) that bloody column hole every single day.

    You have to remember that as smart as journalists are at tracking down and batting out a story on deadline, they are often broad…but not deep. I have been at both ends of this situation…either having to learn on the job and the hard way about complex subjects for an article, or trying to explain the same subjects to journalists.

    Many of them are only good at the letter “C.” Cash, crime, cops, corruption, celebrities, conflict, combustible people, curvaceous women, and campaigns (preferably political).

    Politics boils down to a cross between a horse race and a soap opera. They want everything to be a “reality show,” replete with attractive people having meltdowns in public. They want to see celebrities in revealing clothes, getting caught in embarrassing situations (and clothes), in collapsing marriages, or clutching “bundles of joy” in exclusive photographs.

    They run into trouble with the harder stuff. I have had to lecture journalists covering vicious murders on the harsh realities of the investigation, on the issues we faced in addressing a massive hurricane, and on precisely what a “Quartermaster Graves Registration Unit” does on a battlefield.

    So I’m not surprised that a “Time” magazine essayist fell on his ass.

  • Linnea

    This guy needs to do his research on the CofCC before he tries quoting them.

  • aadila

    Dan, the clear historical and present-day exclusion and social marginalization of the African American community, which is associated with criminal behavior, is the real “serious problem” to be addressed.

    You outrageously racialize the issue when you state, even obliquely, that crime committed by blacks is due to race, and not due to the racist history of America, social exclusion along economic lines, and deep intransigence among the majority population — which is white — in terms of addressing the causes and not the effects of crime.

  • Saleem Ali

    Thanks for doing investigative work on this. Academics who abuse the prestige of their university pedestals to peddle specious arguments like these must be exposed and held to account for their indiscretions. As a Muslim-American, I have seen similar misuse of data used detrimentally against citizens worldwide.

  • Dan Zabetakis

    This is a good example of why it is not always good to inject race into every issue.

    If the group was one black, one white, and one biracial, they seem merely a quasi-random selection from our population.

    The problem of black-committed crime is serious. I think the SPLC knows this as well as anyone. But this case is not one where race needs to be a talking point.