Well, as often happens when I go to investigate something that I think I understand, I find out that I don’t understand it at all. With so much talk of hate crimes allegedly perpetrated by both sides since the election, I thought I’d look at the recent verified history of hate crimes in the US. We have twenty years of good data. The FBI started collecting information in 1996, and the most recent report is from 2015. Of course, this means that none of the FBI data applies to anything that’s happened since the election.
Given that this data is pre-election, here are the results. This graph shows the number of hate crimes committed by both white people and black people, per million of population of their race.
It was a pain to collect this data, as it is spread out into twenty different FBI documents. However, the work was worth it, because this FBI hate crime data shows some very interesting trends and changes.
• Prior to the year 2000, black folks committed hate crimes at about one and a half times the rate of white folks. Moving forward to the present, that ratio has greatly increased, with black people lately committing hate crimes at three times the rate of white people.
• I suspect that the big spike in hate crimes in 2001 has to do with September 11th. I have no explanation, however, for the large jump in black hate crimes in 2000, or the smaller jump in white hate crimes that same year.
• President Obama took office in January of 2009. Since then, white hate crimes have been cut almost in half … and black hate crimes have stayed the same. So to his credit, it appears that the President’s stated message of racial reconciliation was heeded by at least part of the population …
Now, whether you are a liberal or a conservative, those are simple facts, and you can conclude what you wish from them. My conclusion is that the people without sin should cast the first stone … and that as your average melanin-deficient guy, I’m tired of whitey getting all the blame for hate crimes. Over the previous eight years, white people’s rate of committing hate crimes has dropped by half, which is something to be proud of … OK, hold the applause, I’m well aware that racism is still alive and well in the USA, and that there is still lots of work to be done to achieve a just society. I’m not Pollyanna about this—America has come a long way, and it also still has a long ways to go.
But in addition to holding the applause, how about folks hold the blame as well, and give credit where credit is due? White hate crimes are going down, that’s good, so let’s see if we can keep that going.
One last note. Trump spoke out very strongly in his first interview after the election against people committing any kind of hate crimes in his name (not that I can find actual reports of that happening other than graffiti and taunts by schoolkids, so such incidents must be very uncommon). CBS disgracefully sat on that part of Trump’s interview for three days, while at the same time releasing other parts of the interview.
Sadly, however, neither Obama nor Hillary (nor Bernie, who might do the most good) have followed Trump’s lead by firmly condemning the rioting and violence done by Democratic supporters. To date the Portland riots have cost the city half a million dollars in police overtime alone, plus another million dollars in damage to structures and their contents, and that’s not counting lost business … do the rioters truly not understand that they are manufacturing new Trump supporters at a rate of knots by their mindless violence? Seems they must not look that far ahead.
Peacefully protesting, either alone or in groups, is both a Constitutional right and a pillar of American politics. Rioting and burning buildings and blocking highways because you lost an election is as un-American as it gets. We need to be mindful of the difference as we continue in our long and painful historical quest to create a society that is open and fair to everyone, a nation where there truly is liberty and justice for all. I do think that we can get there and leave this racial nonsense behind … not in my lifetime, to be sure, but the USA is a work in progress, and as long as we can work with each other with good will we will continue to move forwards, and that’s what counts.
My best to everyone,