I’ve never been a fan of the term “hate crime.” If hate is defined as “wishing or intending ill toward another person or group,” then is not most crime by definition “hate”? It seems, though, that the term is here to stay, and every year the FBI publishes its annual “Hate Crimes Statistics Report.” Certain special interest groups mine this report to raise alarms over how their particular slice of the population is being targeted. Statistics can be used in amazing ways!
Please understand me – any crime against an individual or group is wrong, and I believe as a society we should work to lower the incidents of crime of all types across the board. I also believe that as a society our law enforcement organizations do an amazing job in an environment where we as a nation value personal freedom to such a high degree. (It’s a lot easier to control crime in a totalitarian, police state.)
Having said all this, I want to draw attention to panicky claims being made by some left-wing and pro-Muslim groups that point out the huge statistical rise in hate crimes against Muslims from 2014 to 2015. You have probably seen media headlines indicating a 67% increase in the incidents of hate crimes against Muslims in 2015. That is true, and it is unfortunate. But it is not unexpected, and it must be understood in the larger context of the FBI report. Here are some things you probably will not hear:
- The population of the USA in 2015 was roughly 320,000,000. Even if you subtract the US Muslim population from that (although intra-Muslim hatreds, like the Sunni-Shia divide, do not preclude Muslims from committing hate crimes against other Muslims, nor from claiming attacks that never really happened, as has recently been revealed in the news), that leaves roughly 317 million Americans who could be involved in hate crimes against Muslims.
- The total raw number of hate crimes reported against Muslims in 2014 was 154. The number in 2015 was 257. This is where the 67% increase comes from. While even one such hate crime is an injustice, the total number even in 2015 is rather miniscule when taken in context of our nation’s population. One might reasonably argue that Americans by and large have been remarkably restrained, avoiding retributive actions after Muslim terrorist attacks.
- This total of 257 incidents of hate crimes against Muslims also pales in comparison to the raw numbers committed against many other groups, either religious, ethnic or of sexual orientation. There were 664 such incidents targeting Jews; 1053 hate crimes involving sexual orientation; 1745 anti-black/African American criminal incidents. Interestingly, only the anti-Muslim numbers from this report seem to make news.
- If it is right to raise the alarm bells over the rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes from 2014 to 2015, we should equally trumpet the rising hate toward Protestants! Statistically speaking, anti-Protestant hate crime offenses rose an astonishing 68% from 2014 to 2015. Where are all the non-hate crusaders marching on the streets to protect Protestants? Of course, the total number of attacks against Protestants was even smaller than that against Muslims (28 offenses in 2014, 47 in 2015), but statistics are such wonderfully supple weapons if you are crafty enough to make use of them….
Even with all this context, it may be a helpful endeavor to investigate why there has been an upturn in reported anti-Muslim hate crimes in America, to see if we can turn the tide and reverse the numbers. Some have suggested that the increase is primarily due to all the Islamophobic hatred spread by Donald Trump in his presidential campaign and now carried out in the actions of his rabid supporters. If that is an accurate assessment, we may expect the numbers to continue to increase over the next four years as such Islamophobia pounds an incessant drumbeat. But here’s another statistic that might provide a more credible explanation for the 2015 increase:
- According to the Global Terrorism Index report for 2015 (generated by the Institute for Economics and Peace – hardly a right-wing think tank!), the number of deaths directly attributable to terrorism in the West increased in 2015 by 650% over 2014. The vast majority of these were due to Islamic terrorists.
- The actual number of murders by terrorists was 577. Please note, this number does not include any other categories tallied by the FBI in its hate crimes statistics. If we could accurately count the other categories (rape, aggravated assault, simple assault, intimidation, robbery, burglary, larceny, car theft, arson, vandalism…) with regard to hate crimes in the West committed by radical Muslims, the numbers would be truly astronomical for 2015, and sadly even higher in 2016. (This does not even include crimes committed by Muslims who are not motivated by jihad but merely from the sense of entitlement engendered by Islam over against infidels. According to a German police report, in the first quarter of 2016, recent migrants (the vast bulk of whom are Muslim) were linked to some 69,000 crimes — just in Germany alone.)
In light of these numbers, it is hardly unreasonable to conclude that the rise of fear related to Islam among Americans has less to do with Trump than with what Americans are seeing played out before them on the world stage. While acting on this fear to commit crimes against innocent Muslims is categorically wrong, its principal root seems more accurately traceable to the unrelenting evils perpetrated by radical Muslims against innocent non-Muslims in the last twenty years than to the harsh rhetoric of a presidential candidate recently elevated to national stature.
What can be done to bring down the numbers of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the USA? We must convince Americans that Islam is no threat to them. If that can happen at all, it must begin with Muslims in the West taking a prominent role in tirelessly excoriating those Muslims near and far who plot and execute evil against others. Groups like CAIR and ISNA and the MSA must expose and denounce the large numbers of mosques in the USA which openly promote anti-Semitism, the enshrinement of Sharia and the supremacy of Muslims over all other people in their sermons and literature. Moderate Muslims must take the lead in excising all the hate-filled passages found in the Qur’an and Hadith, and in acknowledging that Muhammad was hardly al-insan al-kamil (the ideal human) to be emulated in the 21st Century. They must also admit that Sharia law is incompatible with American democracy and lead the Western Muslim world to jettison it from their dreams.
If American Muslims take the lead in doing this, the rest of America will sit up and take notice, concluding that indeed Islam can be practiced in our midst in peace-loving, non-violent ways. The fears many have will begin to dissipate, and the numbers of anti-Muslim hate crimes will dwindle. Will American Muslims take on this task? Sadly, I doubt it, because it would put them at odds with orthodox Islam as it is known and practiced around the world. In fact, to seek to excise offensive verses from the Qur’an or to acknowledge any reprehensible behaviors in the Arabian prophet is automatic grounds in Islam for execution on the grounds of blasphemy.
To me, this is an impossible task. But if any solution is to be found for “Islamophobia,” it will depend on brave Muslims willing to defy the millennium plus of Islamic orthodoxy which is presently fueling the radical resurgence around the globe. The brave, new world so desperately desired by the Western liberal world will depend on the brave, new religion of a neutered Islam. Will it happen? Not if 1.5 billion Muslims in the world have their say. But a start has to be made somewhere. Maybe the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) will step forward and take the lead….
I still believe in miracles.