Next time you invite Rudy Giuliani on the Sunday morning shows, make sure you give him the heavily caffeinated coffee, because once he gets wound up he really heads off to the races. Appearing on Meet the Press, the former Mayor was paired up with Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson to talk about race relations in Ferguson, and things got a little dicey.
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani faced immediate Web backlash Sunday morning after he asked why people protest the killing of unarmed Ferguson, Mo., teenager Michael Brown but not black-on-black crime.
“Ninety-three percent of blacks are killed by other blacks,” Giuliani said, triggering a heated argument on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I would like to see the attention paid to that that you are paying to this.”
“Black people who kill black people go to jail,” Dyson said. “White people who are policemen who kill black people do not go to jail.”
“What about the poor black child that was killed by another black child?” Giuliani asked. “Why aren’t you protesting that?… Why don’t you cut it down so that so many white police officers don’t have to be in black areas?”
“When I become mayor, I’ll do that,” replied Dyson, exasperated.
“White police officers wouldn’t be there,” Giuliani said, “if you weren’t killing each other.”
As you can imagine, those last couple of lines essentially set of a tactical nuke of racism discussions on social media. In the ensuing muddle of words and cross patched accusations, some of the more useful and interesting facts underlying this long overdue discussion were, of course, lost. The first is the patently ridiculous assertion from Professor Dyson that “black people who kill black people go to jail.” How Chuck Todd let that one sail over the plate unchallenged is a mystery, since in all of the worst, gang afflicted urban areas of the country, that statement is simply untrue. In Chicago last year, out of more than 500 largely gang related murders, police managed to obtain a conviction in only 132 of them. The story isn’t much different in Giuliani’s old stomping grounds in the Big Apple and Los Angeles is much the same.
Granted, Dyson may have been implying that of those where a defendant is identified, the black offender goes to jail. This implies that there is a “system” in place shielding the white offender. But as the Los Angeles article linked above in particular notes, there is a separate “system” which frequently makes it nearly impossible for minority gang members to be brought to justice as well.
For his part, the way Giuliani chose to tackle this prickly, but obvious problem could have been handled much better. His numbers regarding the amount of crime which happens in various neighborhoods are pretty well established, but he shuts the conversation down by saying that three quarters of the crimes in New York City take place “in black neighborhoods.” It’s equally true that crime is the highest in neighborhoods with the highest level of poverty. Yes, those neighborhoods do tend to be heavily populated by minorities in the large cities, but the tie between poverty and crimes of all types is beyond question. Also, as I’ve learned through some of my recent travels through the south, there are similarly impoverished rural areas which are predominantly white where crime also runs rampant, with the meth trade, assault, domestic violence and theft filling the local police blotters.
Giuliani was making an important point which is rarely if ever discussed in America because the racial aspect of it immediately throws the conversation into acrimony and turmoil. But he brought it up in a way that was destined to fail before the words finished coming out of his mouth.