Another post-election hate crime wave?
The news reports that we are in the grips of a hate crime wave not seen since the civil rights era.
There indeed has been a spike in the number of reports of such incidents, say representatives for two organizations that track such occurrences. A representative for one group, in fact, said the rise appears to be even worse that what was took place immediately after the terror attacks in 2001.
"Since the election, we've seen a big uptick in incidents of vandalism, threats, intimidation spurred by the rhetoric surrounding Mr. Trump's election," Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., told USA TODAY. "The white supremacists out there are celebrating his victory and many are feeling their oats," Cohen said.
That sounds scary and disturbing...and familiar.
Hate crime surged in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the second half of July – nearly a month after the EU referendum vote – and still remains at significantly higher levels than a year ago.
The latest set of figures quietly released by the National Police Chiefs’ Council on Wednesday show a 49% rise in incidents to 1,863 in the last week in July when compared with the previous year. The week after saw a record 58% increase in recorded incidents to 1,787.
Well, that proves it. Those are hard numbers from unbiased sources, that just happen to fit into the meme that Brexit voters and Trump voters are all just a bunch of racists. Amirite?
Or is there another explanation?
On the surface, Britain would seem to be in the throes of an alarming wave of hate crimes.
In 2015, Britain recorded eight times as many hate crimes as the United States, which has five times as many people; that was 31 times the hate crimes reported in France and 88 times the total in Italy...
All in all, it is a numerical portrait of a society in the grip of hatred and bigotry. Except the statistics are misleading, said Mark Hamilton, the assistant chief constable of the Northern Ireland police, who leads Britain’s hate crime policy for the National Police Chiefs’ Council.
“In most cases, it’s not a rise in hate crimes. It’s a rise in reporting,” he said in an interview in his Belfast office. Since hate crimes are generally underrecorded, he said, “our national strategy is to increase the level of hate crime reporting.”
The number of reported hate crimes in Britain has risen for two reasons: increased public awareness and changes in the law so that almost anything can be recorded as a hate crime so long as the victim experiences a verbal or physical assault as such.
Many crimes counted in the statistics are registered through True Vision, a government-funded website that allows anyone to anonymously report what they have experienced or witnessed as a hate crime.
Rather than a hotbed of racial hatred, then, Britain is more a country that takes hate crime seriously and encourages citizens to report such acts when they occur.
How can this be? I've seen dozens of these stories about a hate crime wave.
Surely the news media wasn't committing journalistic malpractice again?
Although the so-called Brexit vote “created a license” for some to lash out, Mr. Hamilton said, “if we look at what we’re reporting, we’re not reporting massive numbers of serious crime.”
Data from the Home Office published last month showed that more than half of all hate crimes were categorized as threatening but nonviolent behavior.
Oh yeah. Facts.
But I've read that hate crime has been on the rise in Britain for years.
When Tony Blair first introduced hate laws, in 1998, they applied only to incidents of racial intolerance. However in 2003, the net was widened to include religious discrimination. Over subsequent years, first homophobic and then ‘transphobic’ abuse was added to the list, along with disability hate crime and, more recently ‘crimes against older people’.
Last week, a new category of potential victim emerged: it was reported that several police forces may soon treat ‘misogyny’ as a hate crime, following the alleged success of a pilot scheme in Nottingham where it was decided that wolf-whistling could in certain circumstances constitute ‘threatening behaviour’.
Women may not be the only new demographic singled out for protection, either. Consider, if you will, the annual report of Stop Hate UK, an influential charity which gets around £240,000 a year from grants, largely from the public sector.
It suggests that ‘goths’ or people who choose to wear black clothes, are potential hate crime victims. To this end, it contains a ‘case study’ of abuse supposedly suffered by a ‘goth woman [who] has five facial piercings’.
Oh right. When you keep broadening the definition of 'hate crime' more 'hate crimes' will be reported.
That's a lot easier to believe than a country suddenly becoming a bunch of racists.
Something tells me the post-Trump election hate crime wave will vanish as well.