The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Hate Crimes

The Jussie Smollett debacle is being used to emphasize a conversation about an "increase in hate crimes across the United States." If you were to believe Democratic talking points, you'd think that people were being accosted based on their religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity every minute of every day and that we were in a crisis of hate. The fact that the meme beautifully coincides with the prevailing progressive narrative that Donald Trump and his minions are bigots is simply a coincidence, right?

The Washington Post reports:
Reported hate crimes in America rose 17 percent last year, the third consecutive year that such crimes increased, according to newly released FBI data that showed an even larger increase in anti-Semitic attacks.

Law enforcement agencies reported that 7,175 hate crimes occurred in 2017, up from 6,121 in 2016. That increase was fueled in part by more police departments reporting hate crime data to the FBI, but overall there is still a large number of departments that report no hate crimes to the federal database.

The sharp increase in hate crimes in 2017 came even as overall violent crime in America fell slightly, by 0.2 percent, after increases in 2015 and 2016.

More than half of hate crimes, about 3 out of every 5, targeted a person’s race or ethnicity, while about 1 out of 5 targeted their religion. Of the more than 7,000 incidents reported last year, 2,013 targeted black Americans, while 938 targeted Jewish Americans. Incidents targeting people for their sexual orientation accounted for 1,130 hate crimes, according to the FBI.
The increase is notable and troubling, but context is important. As WaPo itself admits, much of the increase is due to increased reporting, not an increase in the incidence of the crimes themselves. I also suspect that the definition of "hate crimes" has been changed, allowing more criminal activity on the margins to be reported as a hate crime.

Be that as it may, let's take a look at the numbers by considering hate crimes against African Americans. There are approximately 37 million African Americans in the United States. According to WaPo:
Of the more than 7,000 hate crime incidents in 2017, more than 4,000 were crimes against people, ranging from threats and intimidation to assault, to murder. More than 3,000 were crimes against property, ranging from vandalism to robbery to arson.
That means that about 4 in 7 (57 percent) are crimes against people, the remainder are against property (e.g., a Swaztika painted on a gravestone or arson at a church). Using these percentages, there were about 1,150 hate crimes reported against African American persons last year. That works out to 1 hate incident for every 32,000 black citizens. That is unacceptable, and we all should work eliminate all hate crimes, but it's fair to note that an incidence of 0.00031 percent does not indicate a severe crisis of hate. Nor does it indicate that half of the country is bigoted, racist, anti-gay, or anti-Semitic.

Similar calculations can be made for other reports of hate crimes. As an aside, for all the protestation by groups like CAIR that Islamophobic hate crimes are on the rise, WaPo indicates that they've actually decreased in the past year.

Again, even one hate crime is one too many. But we live in the real word, not in some magical world devoid of haters, sociopaths, and others who perpetrate such despicable acts. We also live in a world where hate crime hoaxes are all too common.

Hate crimes and the people who perpetrate them should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And so should people who create fake hate crimes to promote a specific political or social agenda.