Last week I wrote about hate crimes based on race. This week I was going to look at sex and religion, but there’s too much to be said on each topic, so I’ll stick to religion. (I know you’re eager to get to sex, but that will have to wait until next week.)
The Hate Crimes Statistics Act was passed in 1990, after the torture-murder of gay student Matthew Shephard. The FBI was ordered to gather those statistics. Their reports are available on line, starting in 1996.
A reminder: the FBI is a questionable source. First, many hate crimes are not reported by survivors because they fear surveillance, fear deportation if they are undocumented, or are in the closet with respect to sexual orientation or gender identity. Second, many local authorities don’t document hate crimes and/or don’t submit reports to the FBI. And third, the FBI has a bad track record with respect to targeting peaceful protesters, from the time of J. Edgar Hoover’s “Red Scare” (1919-1920) to the persecution of Martin Luther King Jr., to the recent surveillance of mosques and Black Lives Matter. The FBI has also sent agents provocateurs to entrap people into crimes they had no capacity to commit by themselves. (I posted about this on August 23, 2015.
Nonetheless, as dubious as these numbers may be, they are all we have and they do indicate trends. Below are recent FBI statistics for religion, comparing reports from 2016 and 2017 (2018 figures are not yet available):
Reported hate crimes 2016 2017 change
Total 6,121 7,175 +17%
Based on religion 1,273 1,564 +23%
Anti-Jewish 684 976 +43%
Anti-Muslim 307 273 –12%
Anti-all other religions 282 315 +12%
I looked at all the other dates as well. The overwhelming majority of hate crimes based on religion, year after year, were against Jews. Just like the majority of those based on race were against Blacks. Anti-Semitism and racism have always been a thick poison flowing through the veins of our society. And, of course, through the European societies that colonized America.
New York City, with its high Jewish population, saw a 22% increase of anti-Semitic hate crimes in 2018 (per the NYPD—the FBI figures aren’t available yet). Attacks targeting blacks, white, Asians, and gays also went up, but those categories combined still included fewer crimes than those against Jews.
Muslims weren’t even on the hate-radar of most local bigots until the 2001 attacks by Islamic extremists. Annual incidents ranged from a low of 21 to a high of 32. In 2001, they peaked at 481, and then fell to the 100-150 range—until the Trump campaign drove them up again. IMO, the decrease from 2016 to 2017 may be an anomaly. We’ll see what happens when the 2018 statistics are published.
An important trend to note: the number of hate crimes, in all but one category, dropped during the Obama years and has risen significantly under the Trump administration. Is anyone surprised?