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Why the charge of Islamophobia is unadulterated crap

Jeff Jacoby:

'IS AMERICA Islamophobic?''

When that provocative question appeared on the cover of Time in August, the accompanying story strained to imply, on the basis of some anecdotal evidence, that the answer might be yes. The FBI's latest compendium of US hate-crimes data suggests far more plausibly that the answer is no.


America is many things, but "Islamophobic'' plainly isn't one of them. As Time itself acknowledged: "Polls have shown that most Muslims feel safer and freer in the US than anywhere else in the Western world.'' That sentiment is powerfully buttressed by the FBI's newly released statistics on hate crimes in the United States.

In 2009, according to data gathered from more than 14,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide, there were 1,376 hate crimes motivated by religious bias. Of those, just 9.3 percent -- fewer than 1 in 10 -- were committed against Muslims. By contrast, 70.1 percent were committed against Jews, 6.9 percent were aimed at Catholics or Protestants, and 8.6 percent targeted other religions. Hate crimes driven by anti-Muslim bigotry were outnumbered nearly 8 to 1 by anti-Semitic crimes.

Year after year, American Jews are far more likely to be the victims of religious hate crime than members of any other group. That was true even in 2001, by far the worst year for anti-Muslim incidents, when 481 were reported -- less than half of the 1,042 anti-Jewish crimes tabulated by the FBI the same year.

Does all this mean that America is in reality a hotbed of anti-Semitism? Would Time's cover have been closer to the mark if it had asked: "Is America Judeophobic?''

Of course not. Even one hate crime is one too many, but in a nation of 300 million, all of the religious-based hate crimes added together amount to less than a drop in the bucket. This is not to minimize the 964 hate crimes perpetrated against Jews last year, or those carried out against Muslims (128), Catholics (55), or Protestants (40). Some of those attacks were especially shocking or destructive; all of them should be punished. But surely the most obvious takeaway from the FBI's statistics is not that anti-religious hate crimes are so frequent in America. It is that they are so rare.

This of course won't sit well with those who are quick to throw the Islamaphobe flag.  What instead it does do is substantively show that this flag, much like the racist flag and the bigot flag, are instead crap flags more times than not tossed by those whose arguments are weak and who'll resort to anything to bolster their perspective and sell their agendas.

Hats off to Mr. Jacoby for going against the meme.


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Comments (15)

Mr. Jacoby certainly puts t... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

Mr. Jacoby certainly puts these facts in proper perspective about the real trends of bias crimes. A thoughtful piece here, Rick.

And yet, despite the abunda... (Below threshold)
jim m:

And yet, despite the abundant evidence to the contrary after every act of islamic aggression and intolerance the first thing the left does is to begin wringing their hands about the anti-muslim violence that they claim is sure to follow. Sometimes I think that the reason why the left likes muslims so much is that they provide a convenient excuse to restrict our freedoms more and more.

I'm not sure hate crimes ar... (Below threshold)
James H:

I'm not sure hate crimes are the best measure of prejudice. They are certainly the most overt manifestation of prejudice, but not the only one.

Yes James H. But prejudice,... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Yes James H. But prejudice, however ugly it may be, is not illegal. Thoughts are still legal. Actions can be proscribed.

Hate crimes are a bunch of crap. They themselves are applied in the most appallingly discriminatory fashion.

No, prejudice is not illega... (Below threshold)
James H:

No, prejudice is not illegal. But if you are asking, "Is such-and-such a prejudiced person/community/group," then you need to move beyond hate crimes. And manifestations of prejudice include a wide variety of behaviors that do not amount to hate crimes, or even crimes.

As for the designation of "hate crimes ... " I have my own opinions there. It's one thing to designate such things for the purposes of rhetoric, but quite another to create laws regarding hate crimes, and I am still not comfortable with such laws.

I am still trying to figure out why existing law was insufficient to cover the gamut of hate crimes; as it is, a jury or judge can consider mitigating and aggravating factors when rendering a verdict, and I would think that a "hate crime," such as it is, could be inferred from those factors.

James, I'm no big fan of "h... (Below threshold)

James, I'm no big fan of "hate crimes" either -- I think it creates privileged classes against whom crimes are more serious -- but it's a handy measure for trends in social conflicts. I really can't think of any other collected statistic that would serve as a good measuring stick.


Sounds like they're looking... (Below threshold)

Sounds like they're looking for a replacement for the worn out race card?

"Is TIME Americaphobic?"</p... (Below threshold)

"Is TIME Americaphobic?"

The applicable statistic yo... (Below threshold)
jim m:

The applicable statistic you would want to look at is raw number of crimes vs any specific group by members of another group.

Specifically property crimes and vandalism would be a good measure. There has not been any significant rise in such crimes against muslims in the US since 9/11.

I tend to look for surveys ... (Below threshold)
James H:

I tend to look for surveys and polls that probe people's attitudes. And then I suppose you'd marry it to a statistic regarding property crimes and similar.

I guess TIME is full of lib... (Below threshold)

I guess TIME is full of liberal projectionism.

No, America as a nation is ... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

No, America as a nation is not Islamophobic. But that's not Rick's fault. He's doing his best.

Hey, did you see the author's NAME??? Bobby Ghosh... that sounds Muslimy to me, right? That explains it!

I do know now that I'll for... (Below threshold)

I do know now that I'll forever associate the name Bruce Henry with those who need serious psychiatric help...

Rick, I have learned to ign... (Below threshold)

Rick, I have learned to ignore Bruce's cheap shots and banality. ww

Did they try sending someon... (Below threshold)

Did they try sending someone to NASCAR in a turban?!?






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