The inevitable revelation that actor Jussie Smollett faked a Trump-inspired hate crime in a city where Hillary Clinton received 84% of the vote sparked a predictable response from some quadrupling down on the Left – that while Smollett may have faked his hate crime, it at least drew attention to the very real problem of hate crimes!
Yes, people really did argue this.
What Jussie Smollett is accused of is despicable. However, don’t forget that we believed he was the victim of such a horrendous hate crime because its the type of thing that happens way too often, especially in the Trump era. He may have taken advantage of a VERY REALISTIC FEAR
— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) February 21, 2019
False allegations, like Jussie Smollett's, are an affront to true hate crime victims. Real, bias-motivated criminal violence happens every day and does tremendous harm to marginalized groups. I write for @CNN on the alarming increase in #hate crimes. https://t.co/3whWYkkImM
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) February 21, 2019
So by their logic; thank god Smollett was lying for the truth? Let’s evaluate that….
Hate Crimes (Probably) Are Not on the Rise – And They Are Not Being Carried out in the Name of Trump
The FBI’s latest report on hate crime statistics was quickly twisted to push a narrative that hate crimes are spiking due to Donald Trump’s presidency. Just take a look at some of the headlines:
- “Hate crimes rose 17 percent last year, according to new FBI data.” – The Washington Post
- “Hate crimes are increasing alongside Trump’s rhetoric.” – The St. Louis Post Dispatch
- “FBI: Hate crimes in US, CA surge in first year of Trump’s presidency” – The San Francisco Chronicle
- “FBI: Surge in hate crimes in 2017 the largest since 9/11” – United Press Chronicle
Each argues a similar message; that hate crimes are on the rise, and that we can blame Trump’s rhetoric for it.
While law enforcement did report 7,175 hate crimes in 2017, up from 6,121 in 2016, there were over 1,000 additional agencies contributing information to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Each new agency would only need to report one hate crime to explain the entire rise.
Additionally, the reported perpetrators aren’t who we’d expect if we were witnessing a rise in “white supremacist violence” inspired by Trump. According to the FBI’s statistics on the perpetrators of hate crimes:
- 50.7 percent were White.
- 21.33 percent were Black or African American.
- 7.5 percent were groups made up of individuals of various races.
- 19.1 percent were unknown.
A disclaimer is in order, in that of the 50.7 percent classified as “White” by the FBI’s statistics, half are Hispanic or Latino (see the explainer under the “Ethnicity” heading). In other words, while whites make up 63.7% of the U.S. population, they account for only 25% of all hate crime perpetrators, a far underrepresentation that would not be expected if the media narrative were true.
Hate crimes also decreased against some of the groups in 2017 that the media would like us to believe are under siege in Trump’s America. Hate crimes against Muslims decreased from 307 incidents to 273 from 2016-2017. Meanwhile, the number of anti-transgender hate-crimes declined by a third, and the number of anti-male hate crimes tripled (but this is due to extremely small sample size).
For the most part, the increase in hate crimes from 2016-17 was mostly proportional across the board (which is exactly what we’d expect if this rise was mostly due to increased agencies reporting, not increased targeting of particular groups).
Fake Hate Crimes ARE on the Rise
According to fakehatecrimes.org, a website that tracks hate hoaxes, the rise in hate crimes hoaxes appears to have begun in 2012, and sparked in 2016 in the immediate months following Trump’s presidential victory. Below is tabled reports of false hate crimes per year since 1979 (and obviously there are many more, as these are just proven hoaxes), and hoaxes per month since 2016.
While there are obviously far more real hate crimes than fake hate crimes, fake hate crimes tend to dominate more news coverage due to their (supposed) particularly violent, humiliating, or otherwise egregious nature. The criteria for real hate crimes can range from everything from someone leaving a piece of bacon in front of a mosque (which is not likely to dominate much news coverage), to murder.
Such loosely defined statistics are easily manipulated, as was the case in a popular Anti-Defamation League study publicized by the media showing that anti-Semitic hate crimes rose 57% in 2017. The entire rise was attributable to a single individual who was phoning in bomb threats to Synagogues. Without him, anti-Semitic violence actually had decreased by 47% according to the ADL’s statistics.
Unfortunately, the criteria for what constitutes a hate crime is paper thin, and it’s nearly impossible to make an objective statement about whether or not they’re rising, given the varying number of agencies reporting them each year. What we do know though is that if Trump somehow inspired this alleged rise in hate crimes, they’re not picking their victims very well.