Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hate crimes in the U.S. and Judaism


Jewish Ideas Daily linked today to a piece from January 11 in the National Review by David J. Rusin called "Hate Crime Stats Deflate 'Islamophobia' Myth". While I don't agree with conclusion of Rusin's analysis (Islamophobia is a myth) or his suggestion that Muslim rights advocates are exaggerating hate crimes to silence critics, I found the data on which the article was based very interesting.

The FBI released its Hate Crime Statistics report for 2011 last month. You can read the report here. According to the FBI, the most frequent hate crime bias (almost half of all hate crimes) is racial, with 72% of incidents of racially-biased hate crimes having an anti-black motivation. The next biggest bias at 20.8% was sexual orientation, or anti-gay. Next on the list was religious hate crimes, coming in between 18-19% of all hate crimes reported in 2011. The overwhelming majority of those hate crimes were anti-Jewish (62.2%).

Rusin is correct in pointing out that hate crimes against Muslims happen far less frequently than against other groups in the United States, however, 175 instances of hate crimes directed against Muslims is not something to dismiss as trivial.

Over 2600 hate crimes against blacks were reported to the FBI in 2011. 1572 hate crimes were reported against homosexuals and 935 hate crimes were reported against Jews.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were 1,080 anti-Semitic incidents reported in the U.S. in 2011, a decrease of 13% from 2010. The ADL numbers are higher than those of the FBI because they include non-criminal as well as criminal instances of harassment.

Hate crimes overall are down according to the FBI, which is a good thing. But the U.S. still has a long way to go before the promise of American equality and liberty is available to all Americans.

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