Hate-Crime Statistics Distort Truth of American Tolerance. (Fair Comment)

By Lacey, James | Insight on the News, January 7, 2003 | Go to article overview

Hate-Crime Statistics Distort Truth of American Tolerance. (Fair Comment)


Lacey, James, Insight on the News


Recently released FBI hate-crime data show that crimes against Arabs and Muslims have increased more than 1,500 percent since last year. Presumably this seeming outpouring of ethnic hatred is related directly to the aftereffects of Sept. 11. Our shock at that terrible tragedy apparently has created a desire to lash out at innocents who bear a resemblance to the monsters who attacked us.

However, before we drown ourselves in self-recrimination, some perspective is required. It does not take too much peering behind the numbers to show that rather than a nation wracked with hate, we are a people of remarkable forbearance.

Before we look at those numbers though, it needs to be pointed out that hate-crime statistics are politically stacked and arbitrary. They require law-enforcement agencies to look past the crime and determine a person's intent and motivation. It is not enough to say Person A murdered Person B and prosecute accordingly. Now police must determine whether Person B was selected for murder (or any other crime) because he/she was of a different race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation than Person A.

Determining what constitutes a hate crime leads to all manner of logical absurdities. For instance: Did a black thief target a white person for robbery because he is white, or did he study the latest socioeconomic data and see that by robbing a white person he is more likely to maximize his potential income? The first would be a hate crime. The second would not.

Because determining a hate crime most often is a judgment call, it allows prejudice and political correctness to enter into the equation. When three white men chained James Byrd to a truck and dragged him to his death the incident was classified as a hate crime, which it surely was. However, when Colin Ferguson, a black man, boarded a Long Island Railroad train and systematically murdered six whites and wounded 19 others, it was not classified as a hate crime, despite Ferguson's long history of antiwhite outbursts.

In 2001, the FBI recorded 1.7 million acts of interracial violent crime. Of that figure, 1.1 million were cases of blacks committing violent crimes on whites. Despite this, the FBI finds that blacks suffer three times as many hate crimes as whites and as a percentage of the population are almost 30 times more likely to be targeted for a hate crime. Somehow the FBI has peered into the minds of those who committed the 1.1 million acts of black-on-white crime, and determined that there was no racial motivation behind them. That is ridiculous.

Assuming, for now, that law enforcement is equipped with a magical clairvoyance that allows it to look into the hearts of criminals, what then do the numbers tell us?

The 1,500 percent increase in hate crimes against Arabs and Muslims represents 481 actual crimes--up from 28 the year before. Since Arabs previously had been classified as whites, there really is no way to tell if the surge is as great as it appears or if there is just a new sensitivity that allows Arabs to be broken out into a distinct new subset, which no one bothered to do before. …

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