Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The "Tidal Wave" Of Islamophobia That Wasn't

In 2009, hate crimes against Muslims accounted for 1.6% of all hate crimes: 128 out of 7,789 "offenses" in the FBI hate crime database (link to 2009 stats). According to newly released data this ticked up to 2.4% (168 out of 7,699) in 2010 (link to 2010 stats).

In other words, there was a very small increase (both in absolute numbers and in relation to hate crimes as a whole) in anti-Islamic hate crimes in 2010. Meanwhile, religiously motivated crimes against Muslims in America continued to pale in comparison to attacks against African Americans (34% of all hate crimes), gay people (19%), and Jews (12%).

Flying bravely in the face of reality, Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center claims (link) that these same data actually show that there was "a dramatic spike in anti-Muslim hate violence":
Anti-Muslim hate crimes soared by an astounding 50% last year, skyrocketing over 2009 levels in a year marked by the vicious rhetoric of Islam-bashing politicians and activists, especially over the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" in New York City.
This is like saying that in the runup to the New Hampshire Republican primary Michelle ("Cazy Eyes") Bachmann (at 2.3% in the polls) is doing "dramatically" better than Rick ("the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex") Santorum, who languishes at a mere 1.8% (stats from RealClearPolitics here). But most people readily understand that what these numbers really mean is that both Santorum and Bachmann are completely irrelevant and safely ignored.

I don't think religiously motivated crimes should ever be ignored, no matter how few in number they (thankfully!) are. All hate crimes should be condemned, and those who commit them should be treated as the worst kind of criminals. But the simple fact is that the 2010 Ground Zero Mosque brouhaha did not "unleash a tidal wave of Islamophobia", and those who hoped that this would be the case are now exposed as either cravenly cynical propagandists or delusional blowhards.

Related posts from this blog:

[Pie charts were made using the ahndy tool found here: http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/frames_asid_183_g_1_t_1.html (The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives).]


KatyDid said...

Yeah, that's not a skyrocketing rate at all.

However, in light of the Muslim % of the general population, however, these stats are a little misleading.

Muslims make up roughly 0.5-0.8% of the population.

Therefore, an increase wherein that 0.5% of the population rose from 1.6% to 2.4% of overall hate crimes is actually bigger than it looks.

I mean, there are 26 TIMES as many black Americans as there are Muslims. However, blacks are not represented in the hate crime stats at 26 times the rate of Muslims - which means Muslims are over-represented in the hate crime stats when compared to black Americans.

In order for blacks to have have experienced the same rate of hate crime as Muslims relative to their % of the overall population, they would have to represent 62% of the overall hate crimes in 2010!

A BETTER way for Southern Poverty to have done it would be to show how likely any ONE member of the various religions are to be the victim of hate crimes: In other words, say 1 in 100,000 Muslims compared with 2 in 100,000 Jews or whatever.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Here's another way to look at it: the average US citizen has a greater chance of being struck by lightning than the average US Muslim has of being the victim of a hate crime.

Estimates of the number of Muslims in the US are all over the place. The Council on American Islamic Relations ("America's largest Muslim civil liberties advocacy organization ..." according to wikipedia) puts the number at 7 million, which is higher than the number of Jews in the US!

KatyDid said...


Yes, thank goodness that violent crime is still lower in the U.S. than natural weather disasters.

Now you are making me wonder whether all races and religions are equally represented in the "getting-hit-by-lightning" statistics...

Apuleius Platonicus said...

I was reminded of these statistics this morning when I read that the US unemployment rate has now "plunged" from 9% to 8.6%. Seriously. They said "plunged". I completely agree that any lowering of the unemployment rate is good news, and that when it goes down by almost a full half percent that is actually quite good news. Still.