Both Left and Right Are Hypocrites When It Comes to Black Lives | Opinion

In June of 2021, Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby tweeted an article that extolled Baltimore's murder rate. "As homicides dramatically increase across the nation, a question has emerged as to why Baltimore City is an exception," the article begins. "What are we doing right in Baltimore that other places are not doing?" Mosby tweeted the opening paragraph.

The tweet exposed an unconscionable lack of empathy, not least because Baltimore's great claim to fame is that it held its already high murder rate steady. Since Mosby was elected State's Attorney, Baltimore's murder rate has increased from 34 per 100,000 to a high of 58.6.

The State's Attorney that oversaw the creation of this unhallowed killing field was practically bragging that in 2021, the murder rate had declined—thanks to an infinitesimal reduction, from 58.6 per 100,000 to 57.1 per 100,000. This still left Baltimore the city with the fourth-highest murder rate in the country.

What a thing to brag about.

Sadly, Mosby is no aberration. American progressives have been shockingly blasé about the crime wave, denying it as Right wing hysteria designed to make them look bad.

"I want to say that any amount of harm is unacceptable and too much, but I also want to make sure that this hysteria, you know, that this doesn't drive a hysteria and that we look at these numbers in context so that we can make responsible decisions about what to allocate in that context," Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said last year.

This denial is especially galling given that the crime wave is not affecting all Americans equally. We are in the midst of a murder crisis that is butchering Black children, specifically. The current murder crisis is an overwhelmingly Black phenomenon, with African-American victims responsible for two thirds of the total increase in homicide fatalities. The Black murder rate went from 22 per 100,000 to 30 per 100,000 in the last two years; the murder rate for everyone else went from 3.2 to 3.8.

Yet the Black Lives Matter side is silent on this epidemic, routinely diminishing the threat that's sweeping the nation.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - JULY 28:A man joins in to pray as Baltimore Ceasefire members participate in a "sacred space" ritual near where a teen was recently murdered on July 28, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. Members of the activist group got to the scenes of murders to pray, burn sage and to create a "sacred space" for the victim. President Donald Trump has recently drawn criticism by calling the city of Baltimore "disgusting." While the struggling city has a number of affluent areas, it has a stubborn crime problem and has one of the highest murder rates in the nation for a city of any size. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

In December, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said that Philadelphia doesn't "have a crisis of violence," including gun violence. But Philadelphia set a homicide record last year, with 300 more murders in 2021 than in 2014.

Meanwhile, emulating AOC, a Democratic organization called Third Way tried to downplay the crime wave by calling concern over crime "hysteria" because "contrary to the media narrative, overall crime decreased in 2020 compared to 2019." But this pivot to "overall crime" is another tell: By lumping all crimes together, Third Way essentially made the ludicrous argument that a 35 percent increase in homicides was no big deal because graffiti arrests went down.

Why do progressives minimize the homicide crisis? There are a number of reasons. They hate the police, their tastemakers tend to be privileged and thus not impacted by the crimes they snidely trivialize, and these crimes often take place in Democrat-run cities, making it a favorite Republican talking point.

It would be nice if there were a serious party in America that cared about crime and wanted to prevent the unnecessary deaths taking place in cities like St. Louis, Baltimore, and Philadelphia—a party that could counter the privileged progressive disinterest in the unceasing slaughter of Black children. Unfortunately, no such party exists in the United States.

The GOP, too, minimizes crime, though in a more round-about way. Though the homicide wave is mostly killing Black Americans, conservative Republicans seem to spend all their time worrying about the impact crime has on white people, whose crime victimization rates have barely changed since 2019, while ignoring the inconveniently Black victims whose bullet-mangled corpses are littering America's streets.

One routinely hears Republicans bemoaning how unsafe the streets of America's major cities have become, with little acknowledgement that they are still very safe for white people. A former congressional candidate named Jason Nelson recently claimed that there is no major American city where he'd feel safe to take his children, transforming a concrete murder and crime crisis among African Americans into an imagined risk to middle-class white kids. It is of no relevance to a man like Nelson that his kids would be in no danger on a family trip to the Statue of Liberty; all he cares about is fear-mongering over non-existent threats faced by privileged Caucasian 10-year-olds.

Or consider the fact that despite being responsible for very few murders overall, MS-13 was a major focus of Trump's 2019 State of the Union address. It's intriguing that MS-13, which accounts for a tiny sliver of American homicides and represents only 1 percent of U.S. gang members, got such outsize attention relative to its importance. But this makes more sense when one considers that though they may be irrelevant in the grand scheme of American crime, they have an abnormally large footprint in majority-white suburbs.

This is the through line of conservative crime rhetoric: They care about scaring white people instead of preventing crime.

This bias also reveals itself in how conservative media reported on the murder of right-wing activist Aaron Danielson compared to the public lynching of Antonio Mays, Jr. Danielson was a white conservative activist who was murdered by an Antifa supporter; Antonio Mays, Jr. was a black 16-year-old who was publicly executed by a Left-wing mob after they somehow mistook him for a neo-Nazi. Unsurprisingly, Danielson received nightly coverage from Fox News for weeks, while Mays, Jr. was ignored until his father sued Seattle two years later.

The universal lack of interest in Mays, Jr.'s death shows how little Americans care about politically inconvenient crime. Progressives ignored the crime because Mays was lynched by their political allies; Republicans didn't care because a homeless Black kid's murder can't be used to convince rural whites that they're in danger.

Today, nobody has been charged in the two-year-old public lynching of a Black teenager in the middle of one of America's historic cities; incredibly, no one in the media thinks that this is morally outrageous.

That atrocity is what happens when crime doesn't matter except to the extent that it serves cynical and unworthy political agendas. The only question now is how many more innocent people must be sacrificed on the altar of our collective apathy.

Jonathan Ireland is a freelance writer who splits time between Thailand and Tennessee.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.