NEW YORK/ISLAMABAD (Nov 18, 2018): Hate crimes in the United States has been on the rise since 2015 and the Southern Poverty Law Center has uncovered 953 hate groups across the country–further evidence that more must be done to address the divisive climate of hate in America.
The states with the most hate groups–California with 75 groups, Florida with 66, and Texas with 66 registered hate groups–coincidentally have a fairly large immigrants’ population–melting pot of the racial and ethnical diversity of America’s population.
So something isn’t going right with the rise in hate crimes for third straight year–on the average almost 11 percent every year. Most South Asian dual nationals PKonweb asked for one major reason to identify, their response was: Trump rhetoric.
One said: “For me it seems that a lot of the police force come from a certain background, and sometimes that’s why I think they won’t take it [Islamophobic hate crime] seriously.”
But several social scientists attribute the rise in hate crimes to a complex matrix of causes and their effects, and not just attitude, or social reactions to “protectionism and America First” mantra being hammered by the US President–While polls show 60 percent of the Americans don’t want to see Trump reelected, they support some of his economic policies.
According to Pew Research and FBI report, the total number of hate crime incidents recorded last year was 7,175, up from 6,121 in 2016–an increase of 17.22 percent. The federal agency did not offer a reason for the increase.
Last year, 55 percent of the incidents were motivated by bias against race, 25 percent were against religion and 16 percent were against a person’s sexual orientation heightening a sense of unease nationwide.
In 2017, the Anti-Defamation Leagues recorded a 57 percent increase year-over-year in anti-Semitic hate crimes. Jews are the largest target of religiously motivated hate crimes in the United States, the Pew research report says.
In the last week of October this year, eleven people were killed and several others were injured during the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. A gunman had opened fire on congregants. He targeted his victims because of their Jewish faith– it was the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history.
Between 2015 and 2016, the number of anti-Muslim assaults in the United States increased significantly also, according to FBI data published by the Pew Research Center. In 2016, there were 127 reports of aggravated or simple assaults against Muslims in total, higher than the modern peak of 93 which was recorded in 2001.
While the Arab American Institute said the FBI’s report correctly captured the rise in hate crimes, the advocacy group insists local police are still under-reporting bias attacks. According to the FBI, 88 percent of agencies voluntarily participating in the hate crime statistics program “reported that no hate crimes occurred in their jurisdictions” last year.
“The FBI data does accurately exhibit a trend, that hate crimes are rising,” AAI policy analyst Kai Wiggins told NBC News on Tuesday. “But we have a sense that fewer than 5 percent of hate crime actually happening are showing up in FBI data.”
According to Reuters, the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre in late October fueled a debate ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm national elections over Trump’s inflammatory political rhetoric and his self-identification as a “nationalist.”
Critics say Trump’s rhetoric has fomented a surge in right-wing extremism and may have even helped provoke the bloodshed at the Synagogue.
The Trump administration has rejected any notion that he has encouraged white nationalists and neo-Nazis who have embraced him, insisting the president’s true aim is to unify America.
Hate speech is not a crime in the US. In contrast to Canada and the European Union, hate speech is protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director, said in a statement to Reuters, “This report provides further evidence that more must be done to address the divisive climate of hate in America. That begins with leaders from all walks of life and from all sectors of society forcefully condemning anti-Semitism, bigotry, and hate whenever it occurs.”
The FBI report found that the largest share among the offenders— 46 percent — were white. About a quarter of the people who carried out hate crimes were black.
But what makes a crime a hate crime — and what does it take to prove one?
A hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism — with an added element of bias, according to the FBI.
The bureau explains: “For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a ‘criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.’ Hate itself is not a crime, and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties.”