Mr. Dan Shannon should have titled his recent column (“The ‘Scarlet R’ — what will liberals label as racist next,” published Nov. 10) as, “How to Lie with Statistics,” by Darrell Huff. Mark Twain summed it up earlier with, “There are three kinds of lies, lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
Rather than dispute his statistics, I would like to know if Mr. Shannon has ever discussed this with a black friend (if he has any). They would give him real life examples of why his statistics don’t report the truth of his claims. I have a friend who travels by public transport from Enumclaw to his job in Seattle. He had been driving but was pulled over too many times by the Seattle police for no reason except his skin color; i.e. no failed taillight, no cracked windshield, etc. He has become too frightened of an officer getting trigger happy.
My only direct experience of prejudice due to skin color came while working in Liberia, West Africa. My former wife and I were hunted by the vice president of the country to be violently arrested and tortured. We took refuge in the American embassy and our ambassador diplomatically solved the problem. I had broken up a fight between the V.P.’s son and another Liberian boy, but the divorced wife of the V.P. refused to take the side of her son. Hence, the boy cooked up a story that I had attacked and injured him and told it to his father the V.P.
It was all a total lie, but I was still forced into going to court, stand, apologize to the V.P. and accept blame for a crime I did not commit. Dr. Henry Kissinger wrote letter of commendation to the ambassador for his calming down the debacle. In this black nation, as a white man I could not own property, have a business, vote, drive freely, or gain citizenship. I had other incidents of bigotry there due to being a white man and left. However, our black population cannot just pack up and leave to escape the endemic racism here. It also reveals how any group that is in power will inevitably come to abuse it.
This letter should not have come from me. Black people are very aware of the emptiness of statistics in telling the story of how the people of color of our nation were sold into slavery, then mistreated under Jim Crow Laws, and today are still suffering from the long-term damage done to their ability to have solid home lives, a college education, accumulation of wealth, and escape from poverty.
Buried under Mr. Shannon’s numbers is how we are still mistreating minority people via red lining, credit rejection, employment discrimination, police harassment, and the new voter suppression laws. Mr. Shannon, you can get away with using statistics to deny how black people are treated because you are not one of them. Aren’t you lucky to be able to hide behind those statistics to promote your denial of racism?