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I put forward the resolution above for debate, along the lines of an “Intelligence Squared” program. I’m going to start by taking the “For” position, meaning that I will argue in favor of the resolution.
Here are my calculations, generally following the format of an Anti-Defamation League press release issued on November 12, except that I am accurately and dispassionately reporting the actual data. As we’ll see below, the ADL chose a different approach.
In its annual Hate Crime Statistics Act report (the Hate Crime Report), the FBI found that total hate crimes decreased in 2018. The agency reported 7,120 total hate crimes in 2018, compared to 7,175 in 2017, a slight decrease of 0.7%. Anti-Semitic hate crimes decreased 10.9%, from 938 in 2017 to 835 in 2018. Total reported hate crimes motivated by religion decreased 9.2% (1,564 to 1,419), and total reported hate crimes motivated by race, ethnicity, or ancestry decreased 2.0% (4,131 to 4,047).
To put these figures in perspective, the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report (UCR) for 2018 reported a total of 8,402,881 crimes. The Hate Crime Report includes several categories of crime that are not included in the UCR, such as simple assault, intimidation, arson, and vandalism. The UCR reports four categories of violent crime — murder/non-negligent manslaughter, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery — and three categories of property crime — burglary, larceny/theft, and motor vehicle theft. All of these categories are also reported in the Hate Crime Report.
Applying the UCR categories to the 2018 Hate Crime Report results in a total of 1,204 reported violent hate crimes, and a total of 1,707 reported violent and property crimes motivated by bias, compared to 1,206,836 violent crimes and 8,402,881 total crimes reported in the UCR. Violent hate crime constituted less than 1 in 1,000 violent crimes reported by the FBI, and hate crime constituted 0.02% of total violent and property crime in the 7 categories reported in the UCR.
The FBI reported 40 total violent anti-Semitic hate crimes in 2018, representing 0.0033% of total violent crime in the US, or about 1 in 30,000 violent crimes.
Obviously, every crime is, well, a crime, and every violent crime is a very serious offense. These figures, however, indicate that hate crime in general, and violent hate crime in particular, is a tiny proportion of overall crime. If violent hate crime is less than 1 in 1,000 of the overall problem of violent crime, there is little reason to focus on it.
Hate crime, of course, should be investigated and prosecuted, just like all other crime. I simply see no reason to focus on one-tenth of one percent of the problem of violent crime.
Another important point is that overall crime rates are down, quite significantly, in the US. Thus, hate crime is an almost imperceptible proportion of a crime problem that is substantially improving. According to the 2018 UCR report, the violent crime rate (per 100,000) is down from 523.0 in 1999 to 368.9 in 2018, and the property crime rate (per 100,000) is down from 3,743.6 to 2,199.5. That’s a decline of 29.5% in the violent crime rate and a decline of 41.2% in the property crime rate.
I now turn to the ADL’s press release of November 12. I have begun by focusing (a bit) on reported anti-Semitic hate crime, because I was motivated to look into the issue by the recent claims of a serious increase in anti-Semitic crime in the aftermath of the recent, terrible attacks against a kosher grocery in Jersey City and a Hanukkah celebration outside New York City. I should emphasize that it is possible that there has been a very recent increase in anti-Semitic violent crime, particularly in the NYC area, but this claim is not yet supported by any meaningful data.
I should also emphasize that the misleading reporting of hate crime is not confined to the ADL or to the general discussion on anti-Semitic crime, but regularly extends to claims of hate crime based on race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other religious categories (such as anti-Muslim crime). But the ADL has just issued a dubious press release on the issue, so I’m going to pick on them as an example. The ADL stated (link here).
ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) today called on lawmakers and law enforcement authorities to take action to address the deeply disturbing climate of hate in the United States after newly released FBI data showed that Jews and Jewish institutions were the overwhelming target of religion-based hate crimes last year – as they have been every year since 1991.
In its annual Hate Crime Statistics Act (HCSA) report, the FBI found that total hate crimes decreased slightly in 2018 after three consecutive years of increases. The agency reported 7,120 total hate crimes in 2018, compared to 7,175 in 2017. While religion-based hate crimes decreased by eight percent from 2017, nearly 60 percent of hate crime attacks were targeted against Jews and Jewish institutions in 2018.
This is an astonishingly misleading report. Hate crime is down. Hate crime motivated by religion is down. Anti-Semitic hate crime is down. Further, even if hate crime were up, it is a tiny proportion of total serious crime, about 0.01% of violent crime. Yet the ADL would have us believe that there is — to quote Bethany Mandel’s post earlier this week — a “slow moving pogrom.” This is entirely unsupported by the evidence. The same applies to all other categories of reported hate crime.
I do not want to blame Bethany for her concern. I would think that, like the rest of us, she is getting her information from the media generally, influenced by misleading sources like the ADL.
I think that we are being misled. Peddled a false narrative. I should coin a phrase for it — how does “fake news” sound to you?
Back to the ADL press release. How does the ADL paint such a misleading picture? Well, they assert, somewhat accurately, that “60 percent of hate crime attacks were targeted against Jews and Jewish institutions in 2018.” This stated percentage is wrong — anti-Semitic hate crime was only 11.7% of total reported hate crime in the 2018 Hate Crime Report (835 out of 7,120), though it was about 60% (actually 58.8%) of reported hate crime motivated by religion. But hate crime motivated by religion was only 20% of total reported hate crime (1,419 out of 7,120).
As discussed at the outset, the Hate Crime Report includes many categories of crime that are not included in the overall annual UCR figures, presumably because they are much more minor crimes (simple assault, intimidation, and vandalism) or very rare (arson). Of the 7,120 hate crimes reported in the UCR, only 1,707 — 24.0% — were in categories included in the UCR.
So here’s how you go about dramatically overstating hate crime in general and, as to the ADL press release, anti-Semitic hate crime in particular. First, include a bunch of categories of crime that are, frankly, not considered important enough to be included in the typical crime statistics reported in the UCR. This increases the number of reported hate crimes by 317%. Second, report the percentage of the (rather inflated) number of hate crimes motivated by religion that are anti-Semitic, rounding up to a 60% figure.
Here are the figures for selected types of “hate crimes,” using the data in the Hate Crime Report but limiting it to the categories of serious crime included in the UCR — murder/non-negligent manslaughter, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, larceny/theft, and motor vehicle theft.
Total crimes in UCR categories: 8,420,881
Total hate crimes in UCR categories: 1,707 — 0.02% of the total, or 1 in 4,923 serious crimes
Total racial/ethnic hate crimes in UCR categories: 1,041 — 0.01% of the total, or 1 in 8,071 serious crimes
Total sexual orientation-related hate crimes in UCR categories: 352 — 0.004% of the total, or 1 in 23,871 serious crimes
Total religious hate crimes in UCR categories: 170 — 0.002% of the total, or 1 in 49,428 serious crimes
Total anti-Semitic hate crimes in UCR categories: 46 — 0.0006% of the total, or 1 in 182,671 serious crimes.
I do not think that these are the best figures to use. I report them because the total number of hate crimes in the UCR categories is the largest number reported in a way that can be compared to overall crime.
I think that it is more meaningful to evaluate violent hate crime, and put these crimes in perspective in relation to the total number of violent crimes reported in the UCR. Remember that the violent crime category consists of murder/non-negligent manslaughter, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery. Here are the figures for 2018:
Total violent crime: 1,206,836
Total racial/ethnic violent hate crime: 744 — 0.06% of the total, or 1 in 1,622 violent crimes
Total sexual orientation-related violent hate crime: 285 — 0.02% of the total, or 1 in 4,234 violent crimes
Total religious violent hate crime: 87 — 0.007% of the total, or 1 in 13,871 violent crimes
Total anti-Semitic violent hate crime: 40 — 0.003% of the total, or 1 in 30,170 violent crimes
Based on this data, I submit that we can conclude that there is not a significant problem of hate crime in the US.
There is one fact that I have not yet reported. Violent anti-Semitic hate crime increased substantially from 2017 to 2018 — up 233%, from 12 to 40. The number of reported anti-Semitic murders was 0 in 2015, 0 in 2016, 0 in 2017, and 11 in 2018. That tragic figure of 11 in 2018 is the result of the single, heinous attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018. The attack also wounded six people (four police officers, I think), so there may have been other hate crimes such as aggravated assault charged in connection with this crime, which may (or may not) account for an additional portion of the overall increase in violent anti-Semitic hate crime in 2018.
Focusing on what is generally considered the most serious of all crime, murder, the Hate Crime Report does not indicate a significant problem, either in 2018 or other years. In this discussion, I’ll use “murder” to refer to both murder and non-negligent manslaughter reported in the FBI statistics. Of course, any murder is extremely serious, but the number of hate-motivated murders is tiny when compared to the total number of murders. From 2015 to 2018, the average number of reported murders was about 16,700 per year, a total of 66,804. Over this four-year period, the number of reported hate-crime murders was:
All hate-motivated murder: 66 (over 4 years) — 0.1% of all murders, or 1 in 1,012 murders
Race-motivated murder: 37 (over 4 years) — 0.06% of all murders, or 1 in 1,806 murders
Sexual orientation-motivated murder: 7 (over 4 years) — 0.01% of all murders, or 1 in 9,543 murders
Religion-motivated murder: 17 (over 4 years) — 0.025% of all murders, or 1 in 3,930 murders
Anti-Semitic murder: 11 (over 4 years) — 0.017% of all murders, or 1 in 6,073 murders
These figures include both the terrible 2018 Tree of Life Synagogue attack (which killed 11 Jewish worshipers) and the terrible 2015 Charleston church attack (which killed 9 black worshipers).
Other than the Tree of Life attack, there were no reported anti-Semitic murders. The other six anti-religious murders over these four years were four Muslims in 2015, one Sikh in 2017, and one “Other Religion” in 2018. Of the 37 racially motivated murders, 21 victims were black (including the 9 in Charleston), 14 were white, and one was Hispanic.
For all of the media reports of danger to LGBT individuals, there were only seven reported hate-motivated murders over four years motivated by sexual orientation (1.75 per year), and zero (yes, zero) motivated by gender identity.
According to the National Weather Service (here), lightning kills an average of 49 Americans each year. That’s about four times the number of annual hate-motivated murders detailed in the Hate Crime Report. Quite literally, you’re more likely to be killed by lightning.
This is the best available evidence, I think, but I am concerned about the reliability of the data regarding reported hate crimes. The data may be underinclusive, and therefore the figures discussed above understated, as the FBI Hate Crime Report relies on reporting by local law enforcement, which may or may not be accurate or reliable. However, there may also be false reports.
There is a fine article today at National Review by Kevin Williamson, titled “Hoax Politics” (here), addressing the issue. In addition to an incisive and pointed criticism of many specific hate-crime hoaxes, in fine Williamson style, he reports on a study by a Kentucky State professor named Wilfred Reilly, who found that fewer than a third of the hate crimes that he studied were legitimate. Jason Reilly (no relation, probably) detailed Prof. Reilly’s study in a WSJ article (reproduced here at the Manhattan Institute site), reporting that Prof. Reilly compiled a database of 346 hate-crime allegations and determined that less than a third were genuine. He also compiled a data set of over 400 confirmed cases of fake hate-crime allegations reported to authorities between 2010 and 2017.
Prof. Reilly has a book titled Hate Crime Hoax: How the Left is Selling a Fake Race War, published earlier this year (and available on Amazon here). No, I’m not getting a cut of the royalties, but if anyone has read the book, or wants to, I’d appreciate a more detailed report.
I have two goals in writing this post. First, for anyone in a minority group who may feel unsafe, I want to provide assurance. Based on the data discussed above, I think that there is no reason for such concern. This applies whether you are Jewish, or black, or gay, or a student worried about a school shooting.
Second, I think that we are being played. I don’t think that there’s a significant problem of hate crime, but false and misleading reports on the issue are being used to divide us and, interestingly, stoke actual hatred between groups. I’m not sure who is doing the playing — perhaps the media, or the Democrats; probably certain radical groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ADL, and Black Lives Matter.
I’ll end by paraphrasing a Democrat. Perhaps the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.Published in