When the Cornell American, the conservative newspaper on that Ivy League campus, published a piece on high rates of black crime, all the usual suspects professed to be horrified. Robert L. Harris, Jr., Vice Provost for Diversity and Faculty Development, responded in the official Cornell Sun paper with this letter to the editor:
As Cornell prepares to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of its Statement on Diversity and Inclusion, Open Doors, Open Hearts and Open Minds, The Cornell American (9/2005; 8:2) has once more crossed the line with a scurrilous story that violates the call for “constructive engagement without degrading, abusing, harassing or silencing others.” The story by Chris Menzel is blatant in its distortions and gross generalizations. He tries to make a case based on faulty evidence and spurious logic that “blacks are more violent then [sic] whites.” He offers charts to demonstrate that Blacks are arrested more frequently than Whites. It is a given that black males are arrested more frequently than white males, but it does not follow that black males are more violent. According to Human Rights Watch, black youth are six times more likely to be locked up than white youth charged with similar crimes and with similar criminal records. This is the case because when white women like Susan Smith in South Carolina decide to drown their children, they blame it on a black man. Or when white men like Jesse Anderson in Milwaukee and Charles Stuart in Boston decide to kill their wives, they say that black men did it.
The new "Color of Crime" report assembles all the data needed for assessing whether, on average, blacks are treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than their crimes deserve. By comparing data from the FBI's huge annual National Crime Victim Survey of 150,000 people to arrest records, then, according to the New Century Foundation:
"If all the NCVS crimes are taken together, blacks who committed crimes that were reported to the police were 26 percent less likely to be arrested than people of other races who committed the same crimes."
Similarly, among convicts the likelihood of being sentenced to prison and length of prison are all quite similar across the races. Adjusted for previous criminal record, blacks are 2% less likely to be sentenced to prison and average 6% more time.
The Vice-Provost of Cornell's Diversity Nook continues:
Menzel not only distorts the facts, he simply gets them wrong. He reports that “the horrific murder of a black man who was dragged to death behind a pickup truck shocked the nation … those men responsible were dealt with the most appropriate way: they were put to death.” If he had checked his so-called facts, a minimum standard of decent journalism, he would have discovered that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice still houses Lawrence Russell Brewer and John William King on death row. They were convicted of lynching James Byrd and were sentenced to death but have yet to be executed...
Killer comeback, dude! See, those white racist murderers in Texas haven't been "put to death" yet, they are merely "on death row." I'm convinced! Vice-Provost Harris, you should call up Richard Pryor and tell him he's all wrong about that bit he used to do about how when he was filming "Stir Crazy" in a real prison with real prisoners as extras, he started out expecting to get down and rap with some righteous brothers who had been railroaded by the Man, but he ended up thinking, "Thank God for penitentiaries!"