Two Harvard professors have accused me of trying to "censor" them.
Thank you for this phenomenal work. You not only thoroughly describe how they are wrong but why they are, and the consequences that will follow. I think this is one of your most important pieces because many people would just take these professors words on the basis that they are Harvard "progressives," therefore they have done the research and can't be questioned.
To call your criticism "unserious" while ignoring 90% of what you said and doubling down on their claim that increasing police will reduce incarcerated populations is just mind blowing stuff.
Keep up the good fight, Alec! Your intellectual rigor is refreshing and inspiring. I live in the Boston area so keep us posted if an in-person debate is scheduled.
Alec, I read your entire critique and I feel like one thing that could have been highlighted much more is how the US is already massively over-policed for all the wrong reasons. Instead of playing their false narrative of comparing numbers of cops here or there, we should focus on two major problems with cops in America that mean don't need or want more.
First, cops in the US are simply not focused on the "major crimes" that the professors cite as an issue. Stats that I've seen and you have referenced in the past show that a tiny fraction of our police are actually focused on crimes like rape and murder while the rest are patrolling the roads and pulling over 10's of millions of people on pretextual fishing expeditions for ridiculously minor traffic infractions, harassing people as they walk down the street or stopping and frisking random people. This phenomenon was touched on in Malcolm Gladwell's "Talking to Strangers" with references to the Kansas City experiment that led to so much over policing. What are these 500K cops going to do that's different from today? Pull over and harass 10's of millions MORE people than they are today?
Second, cops in the US are terrible at solving "major crimes" with rape and murder and other major crimes having dismal rates of resolution or conviction (of the person who ACTUALLY did it). One might think this is an argument for the professors and more cops, but it's not. Despite what the cop shows portray, the vast number of police in the US are simply there for the little stuff. Things like minor traffic violations or accidents, vagrancy, evictions, code violations, loitering and on and on. Major crimes simply aren't a real priority for police or they would be better at solving them. But major crimes are messy and often extremely difficult to solve while instead piling up 10's of millions of arrests and citations for 1000's of little infractions is easy and it makes it look like the cops are "busy" and "protecting our society" when in fact most of them are doing the opposite. More cops just means more policing of the little things, more harassment and more incarceration for minor non-violent reasons.
So, they wrote a crappy paper, deservedly got a bad grade and now are ginning up excuses for their parents :-)
Keep on brother, we need you!
Saying that half a million more police are going to solve the crime problem is ludicrous.
Saying that we cannot do anything about the true causes of crime: poverty, racism, lack of education, healthcare, and housing now for our people, is ridiculous.
Keep up your good work Alec.
Your 1st article in response to their work was great. This one is OUTSTANDING!
If the 1st article struck a nerve this one is going to make them lose their minds.
They responded to you the way they did because they lacked the knowledge to respond to you in a scholarly manner.
Professors who are dismissive are arrogant and ego driven but it also has something to do with the fact that they know that you called them on their BS and they HATE IT.
They’ll do anything to project it back onto you which is why they parroted how THEY were the ones who believed in the free exchange of ideas and you were censoring them. It’s a laughable statement.
Your article was extremely well researched, supported by facts and unfortunately for them tore their premise and conclusions to shreds.
They didn’t like being “schooled” “by the likes of you” which is why they tore you down.
So important you responded to them. Trust me. They WON’T respond to THIS analysis. It’s way, way over their heads.
WELL DONE my friend.💙
I quote your views on Copaganda to anyone who will listen, and my god, Alec, this is horrifying! It also suggests that this kind of organized, high-level BS means you have gotten under the skin of “those in charge” and instead of admitting they are wrong, they are going to fight you hard.
It reminds me as well of the Great Barrington Declaration, which was written by a group of “scientists” and academics to argue that covid lockdowns were bad. As shoddy as the declaration was, it was cited for weeks (maybe it still is).
Dr. Peter Hotez calls this approach “aggressive anti-science”, which I think is 100% accurate. Deny facts, make up your own, ignore studies, commission new ones based on junk science—all of it.
Sickening to see how widespread all this has become in a comparatively short period of time.
Harvard intellectuals advocating the entrenchment of the police state and vilifying anyone who dares to criricize them, how despicable! Fits right in with all defenses of the status quo [ante bellum].
Universities are no longer a place for free speech. Academics and students alike are being censored for not following the party line and some are being harassed and sued for "triggering" students. I have also seen academic research refused funding because it investigates (and therefore might threaten) popular views. As an inmates' rights advocate, I am grateful for your efforts pointing out how counterproductive (and expensive) our social policy is. It would be so much lest costly in money and lives if we invested in education, poverty reduction and social services instead of policing and prisons. For instance, a recent study suggested that the dramatic rise of women in prison has to do with sexual and domestic abuse, leading to a life of substance abuse and petty crime. Imagine if we invested in services to rescue women from abuse rather than criminalizing victimhood.
Great piece. Keep up the good work.
One thing I am still not clear on is how anyone can argue with a straight face - no matter how sloppy they are -- that an **additional 7.8 million** arrests would somehow go hand in hand with a large DROP in the prison population.
LOL what do they think happens when people get arrested.
Thank you for this thorough and rigorous response, Alec. The work you do is invaluable and inspiring.
We need a word for faux progressives who trumpet their liberal bona fides, but adopt wholesale (save window dressing) right-wing talking points (see Glenn Greenwald, Barri Weiss, Matt Taibbi, Tulso Gabbard, etc). They inevitably begin with the results they seek, and cherry-pick facts using 'pretzled' logic to arrive at their preordained conclusion.
There was a time when the imprimatur of a Harvard degree assumed a level of rigorous thought and integrity. Those days are long gone.
At this point, a high school student would agree that doubling down on policies that have horribly failed our society for 50 years is an absurd stance.
The question that I have is why so many fear a change to the irredeemably broken status quo.
I left academia in part because of the intellectual dishonesty you highlighted here. Thank you for being unfailingly rigorous in your thinking, and for taking the time to expose the copaganda that’s masquerading as informed expertise.
It's quite shocking for a progressive or a socialist (!) to say that movements to change class inequality are "infeasible." The whole task for socialists is to bring such things about, not assume that a relatively low level of class struggle, or a horrifying level of inequality, is a permanent state of affairs.
Follow me! Nothing is possible!
Also, have you or anyone else addressed in your writings that even if we take their bizarre "harmonize the ratio" argument seriously, it's really a comment on the size of the USA's *denominator*-- that is, its enormous prison population?
seems disingenuous to even talk about the ratio without also talking about per capita imprisonment, and so on.
We could just as well achieve Spain or whichever country's ratio by releasing a huge number of non-violent offenders from prison.
Thank you again Alec for a great, understandable, truthful analysis. I cannot believe these professors have the audacity to say they are 'socialists'. It is 'Malarkey". And what a condescending elitist response to your thorough examination and valid arguments. I think Professors Lewis & Usmani are totally invested in this theory not open to deeper arguments or rigorous debate.. The 'first world balance' is certainly not a viable solution for this wobbly democracy. 500,000 more police!!! Please keep your amazing spirit and continue the good work.