BDP had a song about police harassment. The refrain went: You were put here to protect us, but who protects us from you? Every time I see the phrase—fact check—I re-arrange that refrain and think: You’re supposed to check the facts for us, but who checks the facts for you? And sometimes the fact-checker points out a fact that is so irrelevant I’m forced to ask: So what!
Recently, I watched President Donald Trump’s first oval office address online. This specific upload fact checked the president’s major points. There was a fact that appeared on screen, in the fact-check box, that caught my attention. First, the president said: America’s heart broke the day after Christmas when a young police officer, in California, was savagely murdered…by an illegal alien, who just came across the border…in California, an Air Force veteran was raped, murdered and beaten to death with a hammer by an illegal alien with a long criminal history. In Georgia, an illegal alien was charged with murder for killing, beheading, and dismembering, his neighbor. In Maryland MS-13 gang members who arrived in the United States as unaccompanied minors were arrested and charged last year after viciously stabbing and beating a 16-year-old girl. Over the past several years I met with dozens of families where loved ones were stolen by illegal immigration.
It’s self-evident to all fair-minded people that these incidents (a cop, a veteran, a beheading, a 16-year-old girl) were cherry-picked and compiled in a manner to solicit rage, confirm bias, promote a crisis, and blame illegal immigration.
The fact-checker could have refuted these examples with one word: Random.
All fair-minded people would have understood the president’s attempt to get his mission accomplished, but would not have been persuaded by these random examples to support funding for the border wall.
Instead, the fact-checker fought propaganda with propaganda and displayed this fact on the screen: Violent crime has dropped 23 percent since 1980 and may be at an all-time low. Notice, it says “may be at an all-time low.” Why didn’t the fact-checker check and find out? Because placing this speculation beside the fact was designed to reverse the president’s emotional appeal. I understand the fact-checker targeted the president’s base, but as a fair-minded person I still have to ask: So what!
Why am I so dismissive of a 23 percent drop in violent crime since 1980?
Because it’s a macro-fact that’s dismissive to surges and spikes in violent crime rates during four-year intervals. (Or executive terms in office.) The last surge was in 2015. That year, Donald Trump was a Republican presidential candidate who claimed America’s inner cities have been devastated by violent crime, and these cities have been historically governed by the Democratic Party. That is when—the fact—that violent crime was down since 1980, and may be at an all-time low, gained traction in the national dialogue. But according to the FBI, homicides went up by 10 percent and violent crime increased by 4 percent. The FBI director acknowledged violent crime was far lower than what it was during the 1980s, but the FBI director said, “People say to me, ‘Well, the increases are off of historical lows…’ (but) How does that make any of us feel better? I mean, a whole lot more people are dying this year than last year, and last year than the year before, and I don’t know why for sure.” In other words, when it comes to the fact-checkers’ speculation that violent crime may be at an all-time low, even the FBI says: So what!
Now, ask yourself, what’s worse, people that ignore the facts or facts that ignore the realities people face during the years of increased violence?
(J. Pharaoh Doss is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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