The FBI has released its 2012 list of hate crime statistics, and much of the data clashes with the leftist narrative that America remains besieged by increasing amounts of anti-black racism and anti-Muslim bigotry. Yet the greater issue involves more than who is committing what crime against which entity covered by hate crime statutes. Hate crime statistics, and the law that prompts their collection, have promoted yet another expansion of federal power at the expense of states and localities.
Before getting into the numbers, the FBI explains that the Uniform Crime Reporting Program defines a hate crime “victim” not just as an individual, but as “a business, an institution, or society as a whole.” Moreover, a hate crime itself is defined as an offense “against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.” In 2012, there were there were 7,164 hate crimes. The “victim” breakdown reveals that 55.4 percent of those crimes are perpetrated against persons, 41.8 percent against property, and the remaining 2.8 percent against society at large.
Overall, the number of hate crime incidents has declined somewhat between 2011 and 2012. In 2011, the FBI recorded 6,222 hate crime incidents, compared with only 5,796 in 2012.
The primary motivation for hate crimes remains race, with 48.5 percent of victims targeted because of an offender’s bias in that regard. And while anti-black bias remains the most prevalent bias at 66.2 percent, that number represents an 8.6 percent decline compared to the 71.9 percent of those that were victims of anti-black bias in 2011.
On the other hand, victims of anti-white bias have increased from 16.3 percent in 2011, to 22.0 percent in 2012, representing a 34.9 percent jump in bias crimes against whites. Thus a prevailing progressive meme that anti-black racism is on the rise is undone, even as it is revealed that white victimhood is increasing substantially.
Following race are hate crimes motivated by a bias against sexual orientation, comprising 19.2 percent of the overall total, down from 20.4 percent the year before. In raw numbers, 1,572 victims declined to 1,376 victims. The breakdown reveals the largest amount of animosity was directed against male homosexuals at 53.9 percent, followed by homosexuals in general at 28.6 percent, female homosexuals at 12.7 percent, and bisexuals at 3 percent. Hate crimes against heterosexuals accounted for just 1.9 percent of the total.
Hate crimes against religious beliefs comprise 18.7 percent of the overall total. They also represent the biggest disconnect between the progressive narrative of rampant Islamophobia and reality. Again, while overall levels of hate crimes motivated by religion decreased from 2011 to 2012, crimes committed against Jewish victims far outnumbered those committed against every other religious group. Jewish victims comprised a whopping 62.4 percent of the hate crime totals in 2012, more than five times those committed against Muslim victims, who comprised 11.6 percent of the overall total. That more than five-to-one ratio was virtually the same in 2011.
A deeper look at the stats paints an even bleaker picture for those who insist that bias against Muslims is a prevalent part of American culture. In raw numbers, anti-Jewish hate crime victims fell from 771 in 2011 to 674 in 2012, representing a 12.6 percent decline. By comparison, anti-Islamic hate crime victims declined from 157 to 130, representing a 17.2 percent decrease.
Critics of the FBI report, such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), rightly note that much of the overall decrease in reported hate crimes is due to a decrease in the number of agencies submitting data to the FBI. Only 13,022 local agencies, representing 248,809,710 Americans, submitted data to the FBI in 2012, compared to 14,575 agencies representing 286,010,550 Americans who submitted data in 2011. Yet the decrease in anti-Muslim incidents is substantial enough that at least some of it is genuine.
Unfortunately for those with a bigger agenda, the FBI statistics, which have been published on an annual basis since 1995, paint an insufficiently bleak picture of America. That agenda must be kept in mind with regard to a study conducted by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, which was based largely on the annual National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The study’s adherents claim the survey’s detailed questionnaires produce the most accurate crime statistics available. The survey, promoted in an article by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hatewatch” blog (whose subheading, “Keeping an Eye on the Radical Right” makes their agenda clear), claims more than 250,000 Americans over the age of 12 are victimized by hate criminals on an annual basis.
The article criticizes the FBI statistics because they are based on voluntary reporting by the aforementioned law enforcement agencies. Yet in the press release that accompanies the study, the DOJ admits the NCVS “measures nonfatal crimes perceived by victims to be motivated by an offender’s bias against them…” (italics mine). They also insist that “nearly two-thirds of hate crimes went unreported to the police in recent years.” On its “Victims” page, the NCVS states that it “collects information from victims on nonfatal violent and property crimes, reported and not reported to the police.” (italics mine). Furthermore, when two previous studies showed that the average number of hate crimes had decreased from 210,000 hate crime victimizations a year between 2000 and 2003 to about 195,000 per year from 2003-2009, the authors of the current study, Lynn Langton and Michael Planty, revealed they had made technical changes in the data collection to achieve “greater accuracy.”
Thus, it is totally unsurprising that the current NCVS study has compiled hate crime numbers 25 to 40 times higher than those compiled by the FBI–even as those tabulations were engendered by personal perceptions, suppositions regarding unreported crimes, and a change of methodology.
It is all in service to the left’s mission to cast America as an increasingly hateful nation, which has been in action for decades. The Hate Crime Statistics Act was passed in 1990, and has been amended two times since then. In 1994, hate crimes motivated by bias against persons with disabilities were added to the original statute. Crimes based on gender or gender identity made the list in 2009, as the Hate Crime Statistics Act evolved into the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA).
The longer name used for the HCPA is somewhat revealing. It was also called the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, named after two victims of purported hate crimes that were turned into a cause celebre by the left. While the story of James Byrd’s dragging death at the hands of vicious white racists remains legitimate, the homophobic motive behind Matthew Shepard’s murder has been debunked by gay author and journalist Stephen Jimenez. Jimenez spent years reviewing sealed court documents, after which he concluded Shepard’s murder was the result of a drug deal gone wrong. That major legislation was sparked in part by a media-fueled falsehood is not particularly problematic for those willing to advance their agenda by any means necessary.
The HCPA greatly advanced that agenda, expanding the scope of the federal government’s prosecutorial power. The Heritage Foundation points out the two relevant subsections in the statute, noting that the “amorphous standards” contained in sections 249(a)(1) subsection 249(a)(2) “would federalize almost all incidents of violent crime, even those that have nothing to do with bias, prejudice, or animus toward the victim because of his or her membership in a particular group.”
And due to pressure from leftists, the number of “particular groups” continues to expand. Last June, the FBI bowed to such pressure and announced that they will begin compiling statistics on hate crimes committed against Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs. ”After 9/11 in the Arab-American community, the fact that hate crimes increased is no secret,” said Abed A. Ayoub, legal director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee at the time. ”But we were running into underreporting by community members. They wouldn’t come forward because they felt nobody would listen or count them.”
Soon after that, the FBI upped the ante again and decided hate crime tracking will include “all self-identified religions in the United States as listed in the Pew Research Center’s Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (2008) and the Statistical Abstract (2012) approved by the U.S. Census Bureau,” FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer wrote in an email. ”The recommended list includes Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Orthodox, Other Christian, Jewish, Islamic (Muslim), Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Other Religions, Multiple Religions-Group, and Atheism/Agnosticism.”
The overall agenda here is unmistakable. As the compilation of hate crime statistics expands, along with the number of categories and groups covered, so does federal power. It is not impossible to imagine almost any crime prosecuted on the state or local level being further pursued by the feds, especially in an age where group grievances and self-professed victimhood flourish. As the George Zimmerman case proves, the rendering of a not guilty verdict in a state courtroom no longer suffices when it is disdained by the mob in the street, as well as a politicized DOJ more than willing to accommodate that mob. There are plenty of laws available to prosecute defendants for what they do. Prosecuting them for what they might be thinking–or worse, what someone else thinks they are thinking–is a dangerous standard. Using statistics to justify that effort is reprehensible.
Arnold Ahlert is a former NY Post op-ed columnist currently contributing to JewishWorldReview.com, HumanEvents.com and CanadaFreePress.com. He may be reached at email@example.com.