The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently released a report revealing the disturbing fact that the United States experienced a significant increase in hate crimes last year.
While the F.B.I.’s data is tragic, it hardly comes as a surprise – our nation has become increasingly divided over the past few years, Americans from a myriad of different backgrounds have grown distrustful of one another.
In the past, we could disagree on certain issues without demonizing those of differing viewpoints. Now, political discourse has changed, and not for the better. Identity politics has prevented us from seeing one another as individuals
The left has their theory as to why the rate of hate crimes has risen, but it is essential that we take a look at the big picture if we are going to identify the real reasons for this trend.
Hate Crimes Have Increased
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the number of hate crimes increased 4.6% between 2015 and 2016. Last year the F.B.I. counted 6,121 incidents. In 2015, there were 5,580 incidents.
The data shows that racial bias motivated 58% of hate crimes. About half of these were attacks committed against black Americans. 21% of hate crimes were driven by religious bias. Jews made up half of these attacks while about 25% of the victims were Muslims.
The Washington Post reports that “racially motivated attacks on Arabs jumped 38% from 2015.” The Post also reports that “attacks on Muslims, which spiked 67 percent in 2015, rose an additional 19 percent last year to more than 300 reported incidents.” It is the highest number of hate crimes against Muslims since 2001.
Interestingly enough, The Post also points out that crimes against Hispanics rose 15% while attacks against whites increased 17%. Moreover, hate crimes committed against transgender people increased 44%.
You already know where they’re going with this right? That’s right. It’s all Trump’s fault.
WaPo: Let’s Blame Trump
True to form, The Washington Post used the F.B.I.’s report to blame President Donald Trump for the rise in hate crimes. “It’s noteworthy that any of the groups against whom crimes rose by double digits were the focus of inflammatory rhetoric by Donald Trump over the course of his presidential campaign,” they write.
Instead of publishing a piece exploring why hate crimes have increased, The Post felt it was more important to blame Trump for the rise in these types of incidents. However, while the F.B.I.’s data on hate crimes is compelling, it doesn’t quite bear out The Washington Post’s theory.
Hate Crimes Pre-Trump
When looking at the increase in crimes against Hispanics and Muslims, The Post only takes into account the years 2015 and 2016 while ignoring the trends that occurred in prior years. Before 2016, the rate of hate crimes increased and decreased. Here is a snapshot of the rate of hate crimes over the past five years:
|Total Number Of Incidents||5,796||5,922||5,462||5,850||6,121|
|Sexual Orientation Motivation||19.60%||20.80%||18.60%||21.40%||17.70%|
The total number of incidents increased in 2013, dipped in 2014, and began climbing again in 2015. Trump announced his presidency in July of 2015. The notion that Trump’s “inflammatory” rhetoric towards radical Muslims and illegal immigrants raised the rate of hate crimes by 4.6% within five months is absurd. Moreover, there is evidence showing that there are other explanations for the increase in attacks against Muslims and Hispanics.
Anti-illegal immigration opinions were prevalent before Trump became a voice on the issue. A 2014 Rasmussen poll showed that 59% of Americans believed that the U.S. should deport illegal immigrants who had just arrived in the country. A Reuters/Ipsos poll in the same year revealed that 70% of Americans believed that illegal immigration threatened “traditional U.S. beliefs and customs.”
Furthermore, in January of 2015, a Gallup poll showed that 60% of Americans were dissatisfied with current immigration levels – they felt the U.S. should accept fewer immigrants. Lastly, another Rasmussen poll in 2015 found that 51% of likely voters believed the U.S. should build a wall on the southern border.
Likewise, Trump’s condemnation of radical Islam can hardly be blamed for the increase in hate crimes against Muslims. Before he announced his candidacy, the U.S. had experienced two major terrorist attacks. In 2015, a Muslim couple shot and killed sixteen people in San Bernardino, California. Omar Mateen, a radicalized Islamic extremist, murdered 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Unfortunately, terrorist attacks are always accompanied by an increase in anti-Muslim sentiment – which can result in hate crimes. Of course, this does not excuse the actions of the individuals who engage in this behavior – the majority of Muslims do not approve of extremist attacks. Nevertheless, these terrorist acts are a far better explanation for criminal violence against Muslims than Trump’s comments.
What Should We Do About It?
The left uses the idea of hate crimes to further the narrative that the United States is full of racial, religious, and other types of hate, but the facts show something different. In 2016, crimes of this nature made up about .005% of all violent crimes according to the F.B.I.’s data. Nevertheless, crimes motivated by bigotry are something of which we should take note, even if they don’t account for a significant percentage of overall violent crime.
The rate of hate crimes in the United States may give us some insight into overall attitudes regarding race, religion, sexuality, and other factors. The rise in these types of incidents is a symptom of the divided America in which we live.
Unfortunately, the solution to this problem is simple, but not easy. We have to be willing to engage in dialogue as individual Americans and abandon our fixation on identity politics. Americans must begin to see each other as individuals, not as part of some identity group. If we fail to leave behind our tribalist tendencies, we will only see a greater increase in hate crimes and further division in our nation.