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December 01, 2009

Omissions, Damned Omissions and Hate Crimes Report

Washington Post coverage of the FBI’s release of its annual report on hate crimes recalled the phrase attributed, perhaps incorrectly, to Benjamin Disraeli: There are “lies, damned lies and statistics.”

The Post reported the FBI figures in a brief, “Crime: More reports of hate offenses against gays, religious groups” in the newspaper’s November 24 national Digest. “Reports of hate crimes against gays and religious groups increased sharply in 2008 ....” the item said. But The Post provided only percentages, not the actual number of incidents. Readers could not determine how significant the increases were, or what religious groups were most affected.

USA Today’s article “FBI report shows more hate-motivated crime” was more specific and informative. Crimes against blacks and members of religious groups “accounted for 56 percent of the 7,783 hate crimes reported in 2008,” the paper noted. Like The Post, USA Today reported that this was a two percent increase over 2007's total.

“The number of attacks on blacks increased eight percent to 2,876, accounting for seven of every 10 race-motivated crimes,” USA Today said. “Hate crimes based on religion rose nine percent to 1,519. Most, 67 percent, were against Jews.”

The Washington Times covered the FBI report as a seven-paragraph item in its “Hot Button/CULTURE etc.” column. Like USA Today, it used more specific percentages, noting for example that “16.7 percent [of 2008's reported hate crimes] were motivated on the basis of an anti-homosexual or anti-bisexual bias” and “11.5 percent by an ethnic bias, mostly directed against Hispanics ....”

The Forward, a nationally-circulated Jewish weekly, put the religious bias crimes in perspective in a full-length November 25 article, “What’s Behind the FBI’s Hate Crime Report?” By far the largest number, 1,013 of the 1,519 total, were committed against Jews. There were 105 reported anti-Muslim hate crimes.

These statistics suggest that:

1) If the FBI statistics are newsworthy enough to warrant mention, maybe they deserve a full story, and

2) News media ought to scrutinize allegations of an “Islamophobic backlash” made repeatedly after the Sept. 11, 2001 World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks by the Council on American Islamic Relations and other “Wahhabi lobby” groups.

Posted by ER at December 1, 2009 05:44 PM

Comments

Not surprising, unfortunately. I have two vivid memories of 9/11: the first is (of course) listening to the details of the attack on the way to work with all the horror that would entail. The second happened when I got to work; a coworker attacked me entering the building. Really and truly! Grabbed my shirt, pushed me up against a wall and began screaming about how we would not have been attacked had it not been for the Jews (he also said "Jews like you!") and our county's support for Israel. As things currently stand in our society, that sort of hate crime is apparently okay. No one said squat. A week later, I was let go from my job with the spurious and flippant remark of "I just didn't fit in at work". Nauseatingly enough, if one looks around at their own workplace, this excuse is still considered okay. In the end, I landed on my feet, but believe you me, I see more and more of this subtle-become-overt antisemitism happening, and I am definitely not what one would refer to as an overly sensitive or thin skinned man either. Over the past few years, my extended family of teachers, college students, military vets (that's me and my brother) and civil servants have all been feeling more isolated and marginalized than ever before, rationalized with snide comments, weird questions about Israel and exclusions from normal work activities. My conclusion is not uplifting; we Jews are the world's canary in the coal mine. Like the bird, when we begin to die simply for being Jews, the worst is already here. My suggestion to you is to find shelter and save your ammo, a terrible storm is brewing.

Posted by: Conrad at December 2, 2009 11:41 AM

Pity the UK figures don't include religious hate crimes.

Posted by: David Guy at December 4, 2009 04:18 AM

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