I'd like to review this paper on my blog. Is that possible? The post is pasted below:
The crime news is unfair to Negroes, on the one hand, in that it emphasizes individual cases instead of statistical proportions [...] and, on the other hand, in that all other aspects of Negro life are neglected in the white press which gives the unfavorable crime news an undue weight. Sometimes the white press "creates" a Negro crime wave where none actually exists. (Myrdal 1944, pp. 655-656)
Gunnar Myrdal wrote his classic An American Dilemma during the early years of the civil rights movement. His reasoning won over many young people at university, particularly his argument that race prejudice was causing White Americans to exaggerate the negative aspects of Black Americans, particularly their crime rate.
Myrdal himself described how and why Blacks get wrongly accused:
The popular belief that all Negroes are inherently criminal operates to increase arrests, and the Negro's lack of political power prevents a white policeman from worrying about how many Negro arrests he makes. Some white criminals have made use of these prejudices to divert suspicion away from themselves onto Negroes: for example, there are many documented cases of white robbers blackening their faces when committing crimes. (Myrdal 1944, p. 968)
The theme of the "framed Black man" would be central to an award-winning work of fiction, To Kill a Mockingbird. Since its publication in 1960 it has never been out of print. In 2006, that book was most often mentioned when British librarians were asked: "Which book should every adult read before they die?" (Pauli 2006). Thus, for at least the past six decades educated White Americans have internalized a reflex of downplaying reports of crime by Black Americans, seeing such reports as exaggerated, if not outright false.
This reflex has spread not only within the United States but also to the rest of the English-speaking world-in fact, to all countries where English is widely used, particularly among the university-educated. The English language has been a key medium for the spread of ideas, even to countries that had neither black slavery nor Jim Crow, nor even a substantial African minority until recent times.
Public perceptions of criminality in the Netherlands
One such country is the Netherlands. In a recent survey, 615 Dutch adults were asked the following question:
There are many different immigrant groups in the Netherlands. For each of the groups, adjust the slider to your estimation of the crime rate relative to Dutch natives. This means you should adjust the slider to two (2) if you think the crime rate of this group is twice that of natives.
The actual crime rate of each immigrant group can be calculated from public data published by the government. It is thus possible to see how much the Dutch respondents overestimated or underestimated the criminality of each immigrant group. The respondents were chosen by two polling firms. A little over two-thirds of them came from a firm that skewed toward selecting younger and more university-educated respondents.
The findings are shown in the graph below. On the y-axis, the crime rate is overestimated at values higher than zero and underestimated at values lower than zero. The x-axis shows the percentage of Muslims in the immigrants' home country.
SEE FIGURE ON PAGE 22 OF THE PAPER
Kirkegaard and Gerritsen (2021, p. 21) argue that the results show a pro-Muslim bias, i.e., the respondents tended to underestimate the crime rate of Muslim immigrants, specifically "by 0.52 for more Muslim groups as compared to the less Muslim groups."
If you look closely at the graph, however, you will notice that the bias was not favorable toward all Muslims. In fact, the respondents overestimated the crime rate of immigrants from Afghanistan and accurately estimated the crime rate of immigrants from Indonesia and Pakistan. Perhaps more importantly, there was much more variation in bias when the respondents were estimating the crime rate of non-Muslim immigrants.
For source countries that are less than 25% Muslim, the respondents greatly underestimated the crime rate (by a factor of 1 or more) of people from Colombia, Ghana, Guyana, Suriname, Congo, Cape Verde, Angola, Dominican Republic, and the Netherlands Antilles. Conversely, the same respondents overestimated the crime rate of people from Canada, Israel, Argentina, Denmark, Bulgaria, Finland, China, Mexico, Japan, and Romania.
Do you see a pattern? The respondents were systematically underestimating the criminality of immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. The data seem to show a strong pro-Black bias, much stronger than the postulated pro-Muslim bias. In fact, the latter may be largely explained by the former, since Muslim immigrants are generally darker-skinned than the Dutch and often have visible African ancestry. "Pro-Muslim bias" was particularly strong toward immigrants from North Africa.
Frankly, given the messaging of contemporary Western culture, I am not surprised that a pervasive tendency exists to underestimate the crime rate of immigrants with black skin. I am surprised, however, that this pro-Black bias was accompanied by a bias against immigrants with white skin. The latter bias existed even against relatively light-skinned Chinese and Afghans. It was especially strong against Romanian immigrants, who are mostly Roma.(1)
The last point is sobering. Roma criminality was overestimated by the same Good People who underestimated Black criminality. The Roma apparently don't benefit from the pro-Black messaging of modern culture.
1. Figures are hard to come by, since Roma in Western Europe identify themselves to the authorities by their country of origin, and not by their ethnicity. There is certainly a perception that the recent wave of Romanian migrants in Western Europe is largely of Roma origin.
In these figures, the number relating to the Roma is indeterminate since the ethnicity of asylum seekers is not recorded. Nonetheless, the assumption is that the majority of these applications were made by Roma. Certainly, the press is of this view. Articles discussing Czech or Romanian asylum seekers refer frequently to the Roma. As a result, it is easy for the ordinary member of the public to assume that such groups of applicants are of Roma extraction (Stevens 2003, p. 440)
Kirkegaard, E.O.W., and A. Gerritsen. (2021). A study of stereotype accuracy in the Netherlands: immigrant crime, occupational sex distribution, and provincial income inequality. OpenPsych under review. https://openpsych.net/forums/2/thread/238/
Myrdal, G. (1944). An American Dilemma. The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy. New York: Harper and Row.
Pauli, M. (2006). Harper Lee tops librarians' must-read list. The Guardian, March 2. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2006/mar/02/news.michellepauli
Stevens, D.E. (2003). The Migration of the Romanian Roma to the UK: A Contextual Study. European Journal of Migration and Law 5(4): 439-461. https://doi.org/10.1163/157181603322849343