The evangelical left complains about “systemic” racism in the US, using the lack of racial integration in churches as proof. Everyone on the left has read Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America. It’s their “bible” on race relations. The authors claim that we live in a racialized society “wherein race matters profoundly for differences in life experiences, life opportunities, and social relationships. Society bestows different economic, educational, political, and social rewards on groups based on racial categorizations.”
None of the evangelical left have read any of the books by Dr. Thomas Sowell or Dr. Walter Williams on the subject that debunk the assumptions and logic of Divided by Faith. Thomas Sowell’s latest book, Discrimination and Disparities, could be subtitled, A Response to Divided by Faith.
For example, the left claims that the way US citizens have sorted themselves in housing, schooling and jobs is proof of racism. Those “scholars” make the unjustified assumption that races would mix in a random way if no racism existed. But history shows us that people have always chosen to live with those most like themselves if allowed to do so. The left has no problem with the Chinese, Puerto Ricans, Iranians, Hispanics, Koreans, Arabs and other ethnic groups clustering with others like them.
But if American blacks do the same, the cause must be racism on the part of whites because the black population should be randomly distributed among the white. The Moving to Opportunity program was supposed to prove that integration would improve the lives of poor blacks. According to Sowell, the results disappointed:
A study of that program published in the Journal of Human Resources concluded: “We did not find evidence of improvements in reading scores, math scores, behavior or school problems, or school engagement, overall or for any age group.” Another study of the same program published in the American Journal of Sociology concluded that “there is no evidence that extra time spent in low-poverty integrated neighborhoods improves economic outcomes.”
The American Economic Review, Econometrica, and the Quarterly Journal of Economics all reported similar results from their examinations of the program, but the myth that blacks need to be surrounded by whites in order to succeed persists among the left. At the same time, Sowell relates many successes by all-black schools around the country, especially charter schools.
Socialists see racism in mortgage lending because banks reject black applicants at higher rates than whites. But Sowell reports,
The very same report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which showed that blacks were turned down for conventional mortgages at twice the rate for whites, contained other statistics showing that whites were turned down for those same mortgages at a rate nearly twice that for “Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians.”
While the rejection rate for white applicants was 22.3 percent, the rejection rate for Asian Americans and native Hawaiians was 12.4 percent...
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution...showed that 52 percent of blacks had credit scores so low that they would qualify only for the less desirable subprime mortgages, as did 16 percent of whites...
But such statistics, so damaging to the prevailing preconception that intergroup differences in outcomes showed racial discrimination...were almost never mentioned in most of the mass media.
The core of his book teaches the sins of omission and commission on the part of bad statisticians, economists and social justice warriors. My favorite example is his attack on opinion pollsters. He shows that a survey of people who had played Russian roulette in the past would suggest that the game isn’t dangerous because they’re surveying only survivors. Sowell shows that is the problem with many of the studies of the effects of minimum wage laws. The businesses they survey after a change in minimum wage are the survivors of the policy. They never survey they people who lost their jobs or the businesses that failed.
Sowell points out that the rage over disparate outcomes that keep socialist inflamed is missing in their devotion to minimum wage: it hurts black teenagers the most.
Another statistic the left lashes it troops into self-righteous indignation with is the incarceration rate of blacks with respect to that of whites. Sowell writes they get that wrong, too.
Statistics cited in support of claims that the police target blacks for arrests usually go no further than showing that the proportion of black people arrested greatly exceeds the roughly 13 percent of the American population who are black...
The most reliable and objective crime statistics are statistics on homicides, since a dead body can hardly be ignored, regardless of the race of the victim. For as long as homicide statistics have been kept in the United States, the proportion of homicide victims who are black has been some multiple of the proportion of blacks in the population. Moreover, the vast majority of those homicide victims whose killers have been found were killed by other blacks, just as most white homicide victims were killed by other whites.
Since the homicide rate among blacks is some multiple of the homicide rate among whites, it is hardly surprising that the arrest rate of blacks for homicide is also some multiple of the rate of homicide arrests among whites. It has nothing to do with the proportion of blacks in the general population, and everything to do with the proportion of blacks among people who commit a particular crime.
Racism does exist. The skinheads and neo-Nazis are proof. Regardless of the fury that the evangelical left tries to ignite over systemic racism, it doesn’t exist, at least not on the basis of the statistics they stand on.
Mark Twain claimed that the British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli said, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Statistics are the easiest to lie with because few people know how to handle them. The left loves to lie with them because they do the most damage.