A lot of news and commentary lately include an important sounding phrase as the basis for many of the initiatives being reported. This is particularly true over the past year in news of sweeping changes in law enforcement in liberal cities and states.
The phrase is "disparate impact."
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While disparate impact is almost always used in a racial context, it could be applied when discussing almost anything. In a nutshell, disparate impact simply means that a policy, law or practice has more of an impact on one group of people than another. An easy example would be an increase in gasoline tax having a disparate impact on people who drive a car to work, as opposed to people who walk. The tax is applied evenly, but it has more of an impact on one group of people than another. In our example, the disparity is a result of behavior choices of the groups. Conversely, sidewalk construction would have a disparate impact on people walking to work. Disparate impact is just a shorthand way of expressing the impossibility of everything being equal for every person in every situation.
Social justice warriors and leftist politicians, though, have twisted the simple reality of disparate impact into something sinister by adding a racial or feminist component and claiming that any differences between groups can be explained only by racism or sexism. Or the more contemporary versions of these: "White privilege" and "male privilege" – basically, modern liberal versions of voodoo or witchcraft, some inexplicable supernatural powers white people or men wield over women and minorities that defy every attempt at legislation and legal remediation. When examined with any specificity, however, examples of these secret powers can never be pinned down or demonstrated. At least not without tortured re-explanation of ordinary situations such as "manspreading" (men sitting in public without holding their knees together) or "mansplaining" (men doing anything in a discussion with a woman besides agreeing with her).
From a racial standpoint, differences in rates of educational achievement, criminal prosecutions, incarceration, homeownership, etc. between blacks and whites is attributed to white privilege, with disparate impact cited as the de facto proof. So, for example, the left uses lower rates of black homeownership relative to the white population as proof in itself of racism in the mortgage lending industry being the cause of black people owning homes at a lower rate than white people. This despite a tangled web of local, state and federal laws and regulations throughout the financial industry, real estate industry and every other aspect of buying and owning a home specifically prohibiting consideration of race in the process. A claim of "disparate impact" is used as a substitute for actual examples of such discrimination.
Disparate impact has become a useful tool for leftists to advance their agenda items despite the absence of actual victims, because it is entirely statistical. This is why a better term for disparate impact, as used by the left, is "statistical victims."
A common pronouncement by the left is the disparity in relative salaries between men and women. When challenged for an example of an actual woman being paid a fraction of the wages of her male coworkers, liberals invariably fall back on (dubious) statistics because they are unable to provide actual examples to be prosecuted and corrected.
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In the same way, leftist prosecutors in major cities around America use selective prosecution to effectively invalidate criminal laws deemed to be "racist" based purely on disparate impact. The fact that different racial groups commit particular crimes at a rate higher than other groups is used as "proof" that either the law itself is somehow racist or enforcement is race-based or that racism has otherwise sneaked into the criminal justice process to prosecute and jail otherwise law-abiding racial minorities. Examples of crimes Democratic prosecutors are refusing to prosecute include shoplifting, simple assault and battery, marijuana possession and sale, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct as well as several traffic and motor-vehicle infractions. The specific non-prosecution efforts vary slightly from city to city.
Disparate impact is used as justification for allowing public schools to descend into chaos, drop standardized testing in college admissions and public safety hiring and more. Liberals use the magic of disparate impact to transform entire demographics of people into a statistical victim and use that newfound victim status to make sweeping changes. As expected, these liberal changes are proving to be disastrous everywhere they are implemented.
The left's premise there is only one, malicious reason to explain a given statistic as justification for undercutting order in every aspect of our society and culture is resulting in the predictable chaos we see in America today. The left are masters of shaping a narrative by manipulating the language to soften or obscure their agenda. Those of us still firmly rooted in reality should refuse to use the loaded, ever-changing language of the left and call their efforts for what they are. "Statistical victims" is a more accurate depiction of the ultimate agenda being proposed than the preferred liberal euphemism "disparate impact."