Congress passed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act (HCSA), mandating
the collection of data about transgressions motivated by an offender’s
bias against a victim’s race, religion, sexual orientation, or
ethnicity. Commissioned by the Attorney General, the FBI’s Uniform
Crime Reporting program developed a system to compile and classify
this information. The crimes tallied would include both personal
offenses (such as murder, rape, assault, and intimidation), and
property offenses (such as robbery, burglary, theft, arson, and
vandalism). In 1994, incidents of bias against persons with disabilities
were added as a newly counted category of hate crimes.
of quantifying the incidence of hate crimes was enthusiastically
welcomed by our nation’s civil-rights establishment, which in
recent years has devoted much time and energy to the task of condemning
the supposedly widespread nature of white-on-black attacks. As
U.S. Civil Rights Commission chair Mary Frances Berry puts it,
"The primary explanation for racially motivated violence
against blacks has been the need of a segment of the white population
to preserve [its] belief in the inferiority of blacks, and to
maintain the social and political subordination of an historically
outcast group by any means, including violence." Ms. Berry’s
message closely resembles that of Al Sharpton, who has characterized
white-on-black violence as "a national epidemic." In
a similar vein, Jesse Jackson asserts that blacks are not only
"despised," but are actually "hunted for sport."
have joined the chorus as well. University of California sociology
professor Dr. Robert Staples laments what he calls "a sort
of genocide targeting young black males." African American
Studies professor Vivian Gordon calls black men "a hunted
and endangered species." And Ivy League professor Cornel
West refers to blacks as our country’s "exemplary targets
of racial hatred."
Let us examine
these claims under the light of what the facts actually show.
In 1999, law-enforcement agencies nationwide reported a total
of 7,876 hate crimes to the FBI, of which 4,295 (or 55 percent)
were motivated by racial bias. Because some of those victimizations
involved more than one offense (e.g., assault and robbery),
the 4,295 incidents actually encompassed 5,240 separate offenses.
If we exclude all racially motivated offenses whose perpetrators
are categorized as being of "unknown race," and focus
specifically on those offenses definitely involving both blacks
and whites, we find that blacks were victims of 2,030 racially
motivated offenses committed by whites, while whites were victims
of 524 racially motivated offenses committed by blacks. Thus whites
were responsible for 79.5 percent of these interracial hate crimes,
and blacks 20.5 percent.
may appear to support the popular assertion that whites are likelier
than blacks to commit hate crimes, we must remember that the total
population of non-Hispanic whites is about 6 times larger than
the total population of non-Hispanic blacks. When we factor this
population disparity into the equation, we find that the "average"
black is actually about 50 percent likelier than his or her white
counterpart to commit what is classified as a racially motivated
hate crime. Because this fact so radically contradicts most Americans’
prevailing worldview, one would think it might be big news deemed
worthy of discussion by activists and academics alike. But in
fact these are among the most underpublicized numbers in all of
fact to consider is that FBI hate-crime statistics list "Hispanics"
as a category of victims (of crimes motivated by ethnicity or
national origin), but not as a category of offenders. Instead,
Hispanic offenders are lumped together with whites. In other words,
the current hate-crime classification system allows for Hispanics
to be counted as victims of hate crimes, but never as perpetrators
of such crimes. This, of course, artificially inflates the share
of hate crimes committed by "whites."
we must note that while very few of those crimes that cross racial
lines are categorized as hate crimes, white-on-black offenses
of that nature are far likelier to be called hate crimes than
are black-on-white offenses.
in October 1999, a white man named Troy Knapp was attacked by
a mob of black men wielding pipes and trash cans, while riding
his bike with a companion in Charleston, SC. Knapp was beaten
so severely that part of his skull and brain had to be removed,
leaving him barely functional.
were arrested and charged with second-degree lynching. However,
local prosecutor David Schwacke commented, "We haven't been
able to establish hate as a motive."
Fox News report, Schwacke, "acknowledged that
if it had been 17 white suspects and two black victims, hate would
more likely be considered a motive." The report went on to
note that, "Federal hate-crime law could apply in this case,
but seven months after the incident the U.S. attorney's office
in South Carolina is not even considering charges."
It is impossible
to know how many potential black-on-white hate crimes have been
misreported in this fashion. But, given the political pressure
on police and prosecutors from the civil rights establishment,
the practice is probably widespread.
of Justice Statistics estimates that in 1999, there were about
657,008 black-on-white crimes of violence, as compared to some
91,051 of the white-on-black variety. Yet although black-perpetrated
interracial crimes outnumbered white-perpetrated interracial crimes
by a ratio of about 7.2 to 1, the official hate-crime statistics
showed white offenders outnumbering black offenders
by a 4 to 1 margin. Put another way, about 1 out of every 45 white-on-black
attacks is classified as a hate crime, while the corresponding
fraction for black-on-white attacks is an astounding 1 out of
strongly suggest that thanks in large part to the constant drumbeat
of our civil-rights activists, the unfounded presumption that
racially motivated crimes are a predominantly white phenomenon
has been cemented into the psyche of law-enforcement agencies
and has been reflected in deeply biased reporting methods.