Screen capture from NYT video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbEe8x2O7Qg

 

One of the gifts of Twitter is that by its ubiquity and brevity it gives people who are highly educated, but stupid, and arrogant a convenient platform for beclowning themselves. The ability to get their ideas before tens of thousands, if not millions, of people is catnip for the arrogance. And the enforced brevity strips away the ponderous verbiage they’ve made a career of hiding behind.

The chrysalis event in what follows is Donald Trump referring to the MS-13 street gang as “animals” at a White House event last week. As I showed yesterday, this is far from the first time that he’s used that description or that particular group. What made it different this time was the media tried to create a false narrative that Trump had referred to all immigrants as animals and then, yesterday, the White House doubled down on the use of animal to refer to MS-13. They used the word eight times in one press release.

Here we go:

It isn’t about demonizing immigrants because all immigrants aren’t members of violent street gangs.

This is how someone who took Statistics for Dummies…or a shameless partisan…or both… would look at the problem. MS-13 doesn’t really operate outside of its own community. While you might find they totally dominate some Salvadoran neighborhoods, you won’t find them getting all violent in Beverly Hills. In short, they operate like virtually every other immigrant criminal underground (Dutch, German, Jewish, Irish, Italian, Russian) in that they focus their activities in ethnic enclaves where people may be reluctant to contact authorities or they may not know that there are law enforcement agencies who can help. If you took any similar time span from the height of Mafia power, you’d find similar murder rates. Why? Because their stock in trade is not murder. They kill for revenge or to intimidate. They are vicious animals…there, I said it…but they aren’t stupid.

From a methodology standpoint, he’s being deliberately misleading. The gang has a max of 10,000 members, so common sense tells you that comparing their murders to murders committed by a total population of 300 million is dishonest. If you look at the rate of murder committed by the population (i.e. 202 by 10,000 vs 76,000 by 300,000,000) you see that MS-13 is much more lethal by an order of magnitude than the generic murder rate. And all of those 76,000 murders are not revenge killings or murders for hire or murders to intimidate so they really aren’t the same thing. What he’s doing is taking apples and comparing them to bananas as though he’s rehearsing for a CNN gig.

And do you know who else cried racism and discrimination? The Mafia.

What does this mean? First, anyone who claims gang affiliation data in arrest records is close to accurate is simply selling you a product that doesn’t exist. But even if it were, let’s go back to the Mafia analogy. There weren’t a lot of arrests of Mafioso. Why? Because they were part of an insular community where people were reluctant to turn in one of their own to the authorities. And they were profoundly dangerous men who didn’t like informers. This takes us to the low level of murders.

Ah, yes. The old stand-by. Attack the source.

Why, yes you are defending MS-13. You are claiming that a violent street gang that preys on immigrant communities is no big deal because they don’t kill very many people and Trump is a racist.

Tell us, where does it head? Does it head the same place as calling NRA members terrorists? Does it head the same place as blaming law-abiding gun owners for school shootings? You have American history as your model. Please show us where it leads. Because history tells us that it leads to a Kefauver Committee and to a relentless public spotlight that eradicates an organized crime group.

This argument is juvenile. It is mathematically illiterate. It ignores history. It is framed totally by this guy’s dislike for Trump.

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