Monday, December 12, 2005

Malkin Misleading Again

Newsmax is claiming and Michelle Malkin is making a big deal that the majority of deaths in Katrina were not African American. They base this upon preliminary identifications of victims at the St Gabriel Morgue. And that is a problem. Of a total of 883 at St. Gabriels, demographics for 562 was given. The race was determined for only 514. At this point 48% were African American, 41% Caucasion. However 321 more bodies have yet to be included and the the race of 48 bodies of the 562 was stated as unknown. To make any pronouncements based upon 58% of the victims at this point is just wrong.

In a previous post I wrote "After going through the list of the 338 identified victims I determined that 76% were 60 years of age or older."
But note I also said this...
"As the demographic breakdown below is only for about 1/3 of the dead it seems pre-mature to draw anything from the stats. It remains to be seen if any of this will stand after all bodies are recovered and processed."

I would certainly not have concluded the victims of Katrina were 76% elderly based on ~33% nor even 58%. And it is wrong to draw any definitive conclusions on racial demographics for only 58% of the victims. It is just statistically dishonest.

More important there is the fact that the death toll is incomplete. First Malkin's statistics are from 11/14. There have been 33 more bodies found between 11/18 and 11/28 most from St Bernards and Orleans Parishes. Orleans Parish is 66% black and St Bernards includes areas that are 97.8% African American. Further bodies were still being found just a week ago in the predominantly black lower 9th Ward that was was just opened to residents Dec. 1. Also the "Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals is getting copies of evacuees' death certificates from other states and reviewing them to see which deaths likely were caused or hastened by the Aug. 29 storm. " Finally 6644 people are still missing post Katrina and authorities are "particularly concerned about an estimated 1,300 unaccounted-for people" who they "haven't been able to determine what happened to them suggesting that the death toll from Katrina could climb significantly".

But on to Malkin's point.
She quotes from the black survivors of Katrina who testified last week before Congress who believed race was an issue in the poor response to Katrina. She then says this....

Sorry to interrupt the Bush-bashing, tinfoil-wrapped demagoguery, but the actual vital statistics of Katrina casualties, broken down by race, tell a different story.
Well sorry but no we don't really know what story it tells as of yet. And even if these trends hold for all the victims does it tell us something different from the experience of African Americans in post Katrina NOLA? If Malkin were capable of intellectual honesty she maybe would have received the answer from the Times-Picayune article she linked to later in her post . But obviously she reads this story in the same dishonest way she examines statistics as she called it "Farrakhan-ish." Rather the story examines why rumors and distortions occur. It includes this....
Patricia A. Turner, professor of African-American studies at the University of California at Davis, accepts that no explosives were used to destroy the Lower 9th Ward, but she understands how such rumors get started in communities that have suffered years of impoverishment and neglect.
“African-Americans in the Lower 9th Ward have been disenfranchised by those in power,” said Turner, who explores how rumor and conspiracy theories take root in her book “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.”
“I think we are really talking about a fairly commonplace human phenomenon, not necessarily an African-American phenomenon,” Turner said. “Whites are telling stories that are not true, too.”
Stories swirled that there were groups of rapists attacking women sheltered in the Superdome and Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Those tales, picked up by the news media, got a lot of play nationwide, Turner noted. Such whoppers usually surface in times of crisis, she said.
“You can minimize the problems with the next situation if there are some steps to create some social justice as a result of Katrina,” she said.
Malkin concludes by leveling blame at African American leaders for not speaking out on her pre-mature and dishonest conclusions. I believe all would be better served to follow Turner's some understanding of how people's perspectives developed and deal with social justice issues now as regards the poor, both black and white. But that certainly wouldn't fit in with Malkin's slash and burn divisive politics now would it.

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