Two Decades of Diminishing Hatred

As many folks know, inter alia I’m a numbers guy. I figure if I can measure something, I can understand it. In that regard, I got to thinking about “hate crimes”. These are crimes where the motivation is deemed to be hatred of some group. The FBI has statistics on hate crimes against various racial, religious, sexual, and other groups covering the period 1996 – 2016.

I wanted to see two things. First, I wanted to see which groups are experiencing the most hate crimes against them. Second, I wanted to see how the numbers have changed over time.

So I got the FBI information. Of course, you can’t use the raw numbers of hate crimes, because the targeted groups are of different sizes. You have to figure out how many crimes there are per one million people in the target population.

Having done all of the research and number crunching, here’s what I find about hate crimes against races and religions:

two decades of hate crimes by victim.png

There are a number of interesting things about this graph. First, in general, hate crimes have been decreasing. This is in opposition to what most folks, including myself, have believed is happening. I suspect this is because of the 24/7 nature of the news cycle these days. Any hate crime gets lots and lots of press, because the media runs by the motto, “If it bleeds, it leads”, and hate crimes make great clickbait.

This overall decreasing trend is seen in both the total rate of hate crimes (black line w/ black circles) as well as with the data for the individual groups.

Next, over the two decades of record, the most hated group in the US has been the Jews. However, unlike the disturbing increase in anti-Semitism that has been occurring recently in Europe, hate crimes against the US Jewish population have dropped to about a third of the peak that occurred at the end of the 20th century.

The same thing is happening with anti-Black violence. Despite what the media would have us believe, hate crimes against our Black brothers and sisters have been steadily dropping since the FBI started keeping the hate crime statistics in 1996. This is great news.

Anti-Muslim hate crimes show a more complex pattern. Up until the year 2000, they were below the national average rate (black line with black circles). Then in 2001, they jumped way up. After that, they dropped back down in 2002, and have been generally decreasing from there until 2014, followed by slight increases in 2015 and 2016.

Even the FBI acknowledges the reason for the huge 2001 increase in hate crimes against Muslims … the attack on the Twin Towers which left 2,996 dead and over 6,000 wounded. And this pattern continues. In 2010 after the Fort Hood shootings (13 dead, 30 wounded), and again in 2015/2016 after the San Bernadino (14 dead, 22 wounded) and Pulse Nightclub shootings (49 dead, 58 wounded), there have been increases in hate crimes against Muslims.

It is important to note that although the Twin Towers and the other shootings were obviously hate crimes, they don’t show up in the FBI statistics. This is because they are not hate crimes AGAINST a specific group, they are hate crimes BY a specific group, which are not recorded as hate crimes. It is also worth noting that the total number of hate crimes of all kinds against Muslims over the period of record (2,988 in two decades) is less than the number of people who died in the Twin Tower attack.

So while I certainly don’t condone hate crimes against Muslims (or anyone), I can see why anti-Muslim hate crime rates have changed as they have … because people have been understandably both frightened and infuriated by the repeated Muslim attacks on American citizens. Curiously, overall, in this nasty tit-for-tat hate crime cycle, the Muslims have caused hundreds of times more deaths than they have suffered in return, so I’d say that they have very little to complain about in that regard …

Down at the very bottom of the graph, for comparison purposes, I’ve shown anti-White and anti-Catholic hate crimes. These, along with hate crimes against other groups (e.g. Protestants, Asians, Mormons, American Indians) are trivially small compared to the major targets of hate crime shown above.

So, what do the numbers mean for the average citizen? Well, current rates for the three most impacted groups (Jewish, Black, and Muslim Americans) are 50 to 100 per year per million population. This means that in any given year, the odds of someone being the victim of some kind of hate crime are on the order of one in ten thousand to one in twenty thousand … very small.

Overall, I was very encouraged by these results. I had expected hate crimes to be increasing across the board … but in fact, they’re decreasing across the board, with the sad but understandable exception of a recent uptick in anti-Muslim crimes.

Finally, what kinds of crimes, in what numbers, make up the total hate crime panoply? The figure below shows the most recent data, from 2016.

types of hate crimes 2016.png

Again, this is encouraging. I’d expected the most common hate crime to be simple assault. But in fact, the most common is intimidation, followed by vandalism. And of all of the hate crimes, murder is the least common. From my perspective, this is more good news. Vandalism and property damage is ugly … but it’s just stuff. And intimidation, although again ugly, is psychological pressure, not physical violence.

Anyhow, that’s what I found in my perambulation of the FBI statistics—in general, we’re treating our neighbors better than at any time in the last two decades, and the majority of hate crimes are misdemeanors, not felonies. Good news for a change.

Here on my small bit of hillside overlooking the forest and the North Pacific ocean, it was a burn day, and I got three of my four piles of various tree limbs, construction waste lumber, logs, trimmings, and leaves burned before the rain set in. Now, it’s past midnight, and there’s a gentle pattering on the roof. I’m warm and dry indoors, my gorgeous ex-fiancee is off in dreamland in the next room, what more could a man want from life?

Be good to your family, be kind to your neighbors, celebrate your wins, America is doing well.

My very best wishes to all,

w.

DATA: The FBI Hate Crime statistics 1996-2016 are here. I’ve used the data in Table 1 of the “Victims” section. For some reason the 2009 data is not at that site, however, it is available here.

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13 thoughts on “Two Decades of Diminishing Hatred

  1. Oddly enough, during this same 20 year period individual firearms ownership has steadily climbed. Hmmm.

    One issue I have had with FBI stats on “hate crimes” is whether or not they remove falsified “hate crimes” from their record. Very often someone reports they are they victim of a “hate crime” only to be found to have lied about it or been the perpetrator of said “hate crime”. Several instances of vandalism/intimidation reported at muslim places of worship have been found, upon investigation by police, to have been committed by individuals associated with the place in question. Same has happened with several reports of racial incidents at colleges across the country.

    Got to leave now, cow feeding and whatnot. When I get home I will go to memoryhole and dig up a few reports on this sort of thing. Never have gotten a satisfactory answer from DoJ as to whether or not they do remove such, or if once reported it is in the record forever.

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  2. It is important to note that although the Twin Towers and the other shootings were obviously hate crimes, they don’t show up in the FBI statistics. This is because they are not hate crimes AGAINST a specific group, they are hate crimes BY a specific group, which are not recorded as hate crimes.

    I got an ironic grin out of this. The FBI doesn’t have a category for hate crimes perpetrated by a group against everyone who is not of that group. Maybe that’s would be too politically touchy. Too bad they don’t have a database of hate crimes perpetrated by specific groups. That might show up some interesting trends also.

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  3. There are two ways to collect crime data. Incidents reported to the police then submitted to state and federal authorities via UCR and NIBRS or crime victimization surveys. Surveys suggest there is more crime than is reported to the police which is understandable. If I get into a scuffle in a bar, I might not report the simple assault to the police. If my girlfriend hit me with a frying pan, I might not report that either for fear that I might be accused of domestic assault. Yet I might be willing to report it on an anonymous survey.

    It would be more than interesting to track the relationship between reported incidents and surveys for hate crimes. Though the number of crimes should be different between the two, a graph of the numbers should follow a similar track but if the relationship diverges over time, that might indicate growing social intolerance and the increasing willingness to pull the trigger on accusation of hate.

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  4. As a corollary to the “if it bleeds, it leads” trope, this is a very good article from Matt Ridley:

    http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/good-news-is-no-news/

    Basically, bad news is sudden while good news is gradual. He lists a number of good examples of this and points out the work done by Hans Rosling – who not at all incidentally showed that journalists have the most pessimistic view of the world!

    https://www.gapminder.org/videos/how-not-to-be-ignorant-about-the-world/

    PS. Hope the multiple links are not a problem, but people like Willis, Matt Ridley and Hans Rosling say things much better than I can so, I would rather link to them than try and paraphrase them.

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    • Thanks, Rob. I have the honor of counting Matt Ridley among my friends, and his work is always excellent. And Rosling has revolutionized the display of data. If you’re not aware of it, you can use his graphing methods (even on your own data) at his website.

      All the best,

      w.

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  5. The title is “Two Decades of Diminishing Hatred” but what is shown here is diminishing numbers of hate crimes, which is not exactly the same thing. I think a good case can be made for increasing hatred, and a very good case can be made for increasing nastiness. Two obvious causes are increasing polarization (a kind of tribalism), and decreasing civility. Before when someone wrote a book about a higher loyalty, we would have assumed he meant God; now it means valuing your party more than the rule of law.

    This article summarizes it well: “A Culture of Enmity” by Kyle Smith,
    https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2018/05/14/a-culture-of-enmity/

    So it isn’t really a love story. Like some other recent Oscar winners, it’s best understood as a declaration of all the things it’s against — as a hate story. The reason it doesn’t come off that way to its fans is that it stokes hate for the perceived enemy, the haters, who richly deserve the obloquy. Any uneasy feelings about hate are washed clean when that hate is obviously justified. Hating haters, these days, produces a kind of ecstasy. It is easily mistaken for love.

    This isn’t new. A good Hollywood ending has always been the bad guy gets it in the end. Happy revenge. “justice”.

    Genuine hate speech may be fairly rare, but we have an all-pervasive and growing hate culture. The most widely heeded figures in the public square — the superstars of the movies, the news channels, and the late-night comedy shows, to say nothing of politicos — are enthusiastically promoting a culture of enmity.

    Recently it has become necessary, even among friends, to agree to “no religion, no politics” explicitly or else someone will inevitably ruin the atmosphere.

    There is no lack of examples of nasty, so if I just pick one current one, it would be Randa Jarrar on and off Twitter.

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