If We Can Call Them Friends

A Factor of Six (from a Focus Group of One)

Fifteen to one.

That was the sole answer I received when I asked a simple question in a political discussion on Facebook yesterday.

I actually wasn’t looking for a ratio when I posted my inquiry. In a discussion about media coverage of the bombs received by prominent Democrats and CNN, a number of correspondents offered speculations.

Despite the fact that the initial post lamented a rush to blame the President for setting a tone, later posts quickly turned to blaming ‘the Left.’ I’ve noticed this lately. In a remarkable display of Freudian projection, many gun rights supporting (perhaps gun owning) commentators, seemingly of the Right,  are quick to identify the Left as the source of all political violence.

Why would that be, I wondered? I mean, it sounds loopy set down outside the context of a conversation.  See for yourself:

It’s a ruse. Some [undefined] group on the Left sent bombs through
the mail to prominent Democrats. Their goal: garner media attention
and whip up a frenzy against the President and his supporters just
before the election.

What’s a social science guy to do under these circumstances? I turned to the most formidable tool I have, the question. Why, I asked, is the Left to blame for political violence if every time there is real (Charlottesville) or  attempted (Comet Pizza) violence, the perpetrator reads Breitbart or watches Fox News?

I promptly got a reply: 15:1, that’s how much violence there is Left on Right.

Unsurprisingly that’s not a verifiable ratio because crime statistics don’t include political affiliation. The closest you can get is that urban centers, with larger low-income populations, see more violent crime (which is usually between the low-income residents) than suburbs. And they tend to vote Democratic.

But that’s not about left on right. Sad to say, that’s about race, not as a cause of violence but as a reflection of economic disenfranchisement.

So while 15:1 sounds almost scientific, the reality is that it’s a meaningless number that probably reflects race-based fear.

It’s the alacrity and surety with which it was proffered that is troubling.

I’m not smart enough to know how to address that.

Though I do know that being more rational isn’t going to work.



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