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Civil Rights for Fun and Profit By: Michael Tremoglie
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, January 15, 2001


"YOU WOULDN'T BE DOIN' this if he was a white boy! " bellowed a voice in the crowd. "

Yeah, you don't go after white boys like that ! " shouted another.

" I'm calling the NAACP, " proclaimed the first voice.

What was the reason for this indignation?

My colleagues and I were pursuing a felon - a murderer. An African-American murderer in an African-American neighborhood in Philadelphia. We were police officers. It was our job.

I had heard this vitriol before. A few months earlier, I was called to the scene of a shooting. I didn't want to move the victim because, very often, doing so exacerbates the problem. So I called for a Rescue vehicle. There was a delay transporting the victim to the hospital, but it was the more prudent procedure. The crowd, however, thought otherwise.

"How come you ain't takin' him to the hospital? "

" You could call a cab by the time you take him. You wouldn't do this if he was white! "

Such comments were not confined to uniformed law enforcement duties. Occasionally, off-duty, I worked as a plain clothes security guard for a toy store. There was a lot of shoplifting in the store by kids--African-American kids. So the store implemented a policy of not allowing kids, unaccompanied by an adult, to enter.

"You wouldn't do this in a white neighborhood! "

I heard that comment often by African-American parents, who returned with their kids to shop, after they were denied access to the store.

It has been said that perception is truth. The perception of African Americans is that law enforcement discriminates against them. It is certainly a perception that has been fueled by liberal, leftist organizations. Organizations, with questionable motives and even more questionable methods.

For example, the local chapters of the NAACP and the ACLU conducted a study of police vehicle investigations in Philadelphia to determine if racial profiling were practiced. The result was that, indeed, racial profiling was a common practice. African Americans made up 60 percent of the stops and 43.6 percent of the city's population. Whites comprised 36.5 percent of the stops and 52.2 percent of the population. Police stopped blacks at up to double the rate of whites in specific districts.

The racial disparity claim is one of the most blatant examples of post hoc fallacy and ad invidiam rhetoric in existence. A racial disparity exists in professional sports and in the music industry, where African Americans are overrepresented. Is that because of racism?

The studies that imply such claims are fraught with fallacies. They are invariably the work of casuist energumen. They imply a cause and effect, but do not prove one. One of the first things a research student is taught are the three tenets for the determination of a causal relationship. Those are:

1) The cause must occur before the effect
2) The cause and effect must be related empirically
3) the observed relationship can't be explained by the effect of another cause

The ACLU/NAACP report possesses the first two criteria, but not the third. Economics, traffic patterns etc., are other valid explanations. Yet the pronouncement is made that racism is the cause. Even more egregious is that the media accepts the report's conclusion.

Another lesson taught to research students is the concern of inherent bias in a study. Could the NAACP/ACLU be biased?

Organizations such as the ACLU and the NAACP have no raison d'etre when all is right with the world. They profit from controversy.

Sound too cynical?

Some years ago I received a letter from the ACLU stating: " A firestorm is sweeping the country... groups.. feel they have permission to set fire to the Bill of Rights... Only the ACLU can Put Out the Fires "

What were the issues and groups burning the Bill of Rights? One was a lawsuit to allow school vouchers. School vouchers burning the Bill of Rights? Obviously, the ACLU is using public school teachers as a funding source.

All of which is not to say that racism does not exist in the Philadelphia PD. After all the force is a mirror of society. But the question of racism in law enforcement cannot be resolved through biased studies that do not comply with generally accepted research principles. It has to be scrutinized objectively, by reputable organizations or individuals, who have no vested interest in the conclusion.


Michael P. Tremoglie is the author of the new novel A Sense of Duty, and an ex-Philadelphia cop. E-mail him at elfegobaca@comcast.net.


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