Violent crimes like murder, assault, robbery and rape cause far more damage to U.S. race relations than officially recognized "hate crimes," a study based on federal crime statistics concludes.
The study reports that some 1.7 million violent interracial crimes involving blacks and whites are committed annually. But in 1997 only 4,105 of those were deemed "hate crimes" under the Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990, according to a study by the New Century Foundation, based in Oakton, Va.
Although Americans most often think of "hate crimes" as acts by whites against racial minorities - such as last year's killing of James Byrd in Texas by three white ex-convicts - the majority of violent crime across racial lines are committed by blacks against whites, the study finds.
Black-on-white crimes were almost nine times as frequent as white-on-black crimes, the study reports.
"Hate crimes are thought to be the most serious acts of interracial crime . . . but it is likely that the millions of ordinary interracial crimes - 90 percent of which are committed by blacks against whites - are more damaging to race relations," the study concludes.
Jared Taylor heads the New Century Foundation. He is author of "Paved With Good Intentions: The Failure of Race Relations in Contemporary America," a 1991 book that documented fundamental problems with U.S. policies on civil rights, crime and welfare.
Academics who have studied crime rates said that although some of the New Century report's conclusions may seem startling, the statistics about crime and race are well known to researchers.
"It's an issue that most white scholars ignore, because you can only get in trouble," said Morgan Reynolds, director of the Criminal Justice Center at the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis. "It's no news to anybody who's pursued the differences of race and crime, but it's politically incorrect."
Racial aspects of violent crime are "too sensitive" to be openly discussed, said UCLA professor James Q. Wilson, but they have a major impact on American society.
"This affects both races," said Mr. Wilson. "Whites are apprehensive. Blacks are irritated by being subjected to this apprehension."
The New Century Foundation study cites the National Crime Victimization Study (NCVS) for 1994 - the most recent such study issued by the Justice Department. That latter study reported that blacks committed 1,140,670 violent crimes against whites, while whites committed 135,360 violent crimes against blacks.
More than 80 percent of violent crime committed by blacks were perpetrated against black victims; only 16.7 percent of violent crimes against whites were committed by blacks, according to NCVS data cited in the study. But because only 12.1 percent of Americans are black, those figures mean that blacks committed interracial crimes at much higher rates than whites, who constitute 72.7 percent of the U.S. population.
"Put in the most easily understood terms, the average black was . . . 56 times more likely to commit criminal violence against a white than was a white to commit criminal violence against a black," the study said.
The New Century study also finds:
* Non-Hispanic, U.S.-born whites committed only one homicide that counted as a racial hate crime by the FBI in 1997. The FBI reported only five racially motivated killings in 1997, three that were "anti-black" and two that were "anti-white. …