The Rise of Hate Crimes Can Be Tied Directly to Hateful Speech

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Attorney General Eric Holder described the recent massacre of Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin as “an act of terrorism, an act of hatred, a hate crime.” Four days later, anti-Semitic graffiti was found at Brooklyn Holocaust Memorial Park, and throughout the month of August, a number of mosques have been attacked and desecrated around the country. Official statistics on hate crimes evidence a steady rise of violence against religious communities over the past five years.

Although there are flaws in the FBI’s method of tracking and monitoring hate crimes, their statistics provide a consistent framework to analyze trends. For example, from 2005 to 2010, hate crimes motivated by religious bias show a consistent upward trajectory—whereas hate crimes against religious communities constituted 17.1 percent of all bias-based crimes in 2005, that number has reached 20 percent in the most recent report published in 2010. This is the highest rate of hate crimes motivated by religious bias in the 18 years since the FBI started tracking hate crimes nationwide in 1992.


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