The FBI has a treasure trove of data on hate crimes, broken down by race, type of crime, city or state it occurred, motive and so on. The positive out of all of it is the overall trend of hate crimes has fallen dramatically since 1996 in absolute and relative terms. As always, we present the data without emotion. The figures published here are reported by the FBI. The Census Bureau is used for any population data.
As we reported in the previous post, the mainstream media is desperate to paint a narrative that anti-Asian hate crimes are about to go through the roof. Who might be behind it?
The FBI data would suggest that a likely culprit of anti-Asian hate crimes might be whites, who make up c.75% of the population and totalled around 54% of hate crime offenders in 2018. Black Americans make up 13% of the US population but in 2018 were responsible for 24% of all hate crimes. Unknown races made up 12.9% and mixed races made up 6.9%. Asian-Americans are responsible for only 1.3% of offenders of hate crime, below their 5.8% representative population.
Over time, if we boil down hate crimes by race as a percentage of the overall representative populations, which doesn’t take into account repeat offenders, we can see clearly that not only has hate crime fallen in absolute terms it has plummeted in percentage terms too.
The FBI stats would tell us that Black Americans are twice as likely to commit hate crimes as White Americans as a percentage of their respective representative populations. That would be a narrative inducing headline, wouldn’t it? In absolute terms, whites still commit hate crimes at over 2x the rate of blacks and 42x that of Asians. However, the more important way to look at the data would be to say that as a % of hate crimes, over 99.98% of Black, White and Asian Americans are not in this cohort. Period.
Where does racially based hate crime usually occur? One could easily twist the data on that too.
One could argue that Elloree, South Carolina has 511x the race-based hate crimes of the national average. Springfield and Calhoun Falls, South Carolina would seem to support the data that South Carolinians are unhinged. Or do they? If we look at South Carolina as a state, hate crimes are more or less the same as the national average. What we did note from the stats is that the populations of Elloree, Springfield and Calhoun Falls were 652, 488 and 1,925 respectively vs a state population of 5.08 million.
We might say that a more densely populated area like Seattle (3.4mn residents) is 20x more racist than the national average. Or Washington DC at 10x. Decatur, Texas is 13x more racist per head of population but the State of Texas is below the national average. Is it a fair reflection? Probably not. The data can tell whichever story one wanted to paint. Would the media tread carefully here?
By state, the FBI data suggests the District of Columbia would seem to home to the highest percentage of all hate crimes for a state/district in America, even though as a % of the resident population, 99.96% of the citizens there are not. We can see how easy it is to paint narratives.
For the sake of comparison, we coloured the states by 2016 presidential election results. It would seem there were more Democratic-held states (blue) than Republican-held states (red) that were above the national average for hate crimes as a % of the resident population. It is not a very valid comparison but we often only hear that only Republicans are unabashed racists. Although one might argue that DC hate crimes are still committed by Republicans, even though party affiliation is not taken by the FBI. Perhaps it should!?
The places where race-based hate crimes were committed threw up some interesting statistics. 25% were committed at or around the home. 20% on a highway, alley or street. 8% were unknown. Most other cases were reported at public venues such as schools, supermarkets, convenience stores or gas stations. Race hate crimes are even reported in prisons.
When religious hate crimes are committed, most are unknown. Not surprisingly, 15% occur outside a place of worship.
Most sexual orientation hate crimes occur at or around home or alleys and streets. Bars and nightclubs account for 5%.
Although hate crimes are naturally better borne out by motives. As we can see in this chart below, c.70% of hate crimes are driven by actual offences – assault, vandalism, robbery, burglary, car theft, larceny, murder or rape. 30% is based on intimidation which could range from name-calling, racist bill posters to threats of violence.
Yet does a white carjacking a black or vice versa have the primary motive of race or theft? Is race sometimes not a factor but happenstance? Is the motive to steal a Ferrari or take the car because of the occupant’s skin? Yet the victim may point to the race of the perpetrator when filing the report.
It is too easy to twist the data on hate crimes.
Is it possible COVID19 hate crimes will get a separate section in the 2020 FBI data series? Will there be a tidal wave of anti-Asian crimes as a result of Trump calling it the “China virus“?
We don’t think it is lost on most people where the virus originated but at the same time, we would also imagine that racists didn’t need any assistance to form bigoted views. Their narratives had plenty of ammunition to work with before Trump or the mainstream media mentioned it.
The better way to look at hate crimes is that they have fallen since 1996 when FBI data collection began. Whites now commit 48% fewer hate crimes as a proportion of their population cohort on a relative basis and 43% on an absolute basis. There has been a 37% relative and 18% absolute drop in hate crimes caused by blacks and 77% and 49% respective decline in Asian perpetrated hate crimes.
In aggregate there has been a 43% relative and 30% absolute decline in all hate crime offenders since 1996. Yet the media would have it that hate crimes are surging to unprecedented levels. Simply not true.
Let us not forget when claims of racist hate crimes backfire. An issue over alleged racism started when a student from Oberlin College was caught shoplifting two bottles of wine from Gibson’s Bakery while trying to buy another with a fake ID. Allyn Gibson, son of the owner chased down the shoplifter but was attacked by his accomplices. The perpetrators claimed racial profiling by the store. Oberlin College’s Dean of Students, Meredith Raimondo, joined in student protests calling Gibsons a “racist establishment.” It was then that Oberlin ended all business with the bakery (which had been an ongoing supplier to the college since 1885). Flyers were printed and the store attacked.
Oberlin College in Ohio was sued for defamation and charged $44.2m in damages. It was awarded by the court to Gibson’s Bakery for unsubstantiated claims of racism.
Which begs the question, just how severe were the hate crimes reported by the FBI, were they prosecuted and how many were thrown out for the lack of evidence or being unsubstantiated? That is not contained in the published FBI data.