Hate crimes

The FBI Says Hate Crimes Rose 17% in 2017, but That Doesn't Mean Things Are Actually Getting Worse

1,000 more agencies submitted data in 2017 vs. 2016, which could account for much of the increase.


Gene Blevins/Polaris/Newscom

On Tuesday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released hate crime data for last year. The main finding, which appears in the headlines of several news stories about it, was that hate crimes rose 17 percent from 2016 to 2017.

Media and activist groups often blame hate crime spikes on President Trump's divisive rhetoric; the Southern Poverty Law Center has called this "the Trump effect" and pointed to supposed surges in schoolyard bulling as evidence of such a trend. The latest FBI statistics are producing similar commentary.

"The report covers the first year of President Donald Trump's time in the White House," writes Vox's German Lopez, "and he's been repeatedly criticized, from his campaign to his presidential statements and tweets, of stoking racist sentiment, particularly against immigrants and refugees."

But as Lopez correctly notes elsewhere in his post, any talk of hate crime increases must be considered in light of a very critical detail: The overall number of law enforcement agencies reporting hate crime data also increased greatly—approximately 1,000 additional agencies contributed figures in 2017 than in 2016. This means it's not obviously the case that hate crimes are more prevalent in 2017. Maybe the government just did a better job of counting them.

This seems even more plausible when the raw totals are considered. The FBI counted 7,175 hate crimes in 2017, compared with 6,121 in 2016. That's a difference of about 1,000. If every agency reporting data for the first time in 2017 reported just one hate crime, this would account for the entire 17 percent increase.

This is the problem with counting hate crimes: The numbers just aren't that useful, given that not all police agencies participate or give accurate totals. As I noted in a previous post, Baltimore County—which represents 830,000 people—reported just one hate crime in 2016. This year, Baltimore County reported 10 hate crimes. Did incidents of hate increase tenfold in a single year? Probably not; it's likelier that the police simply submitted more reliable data this year.

As with the dubious claim that anti-Semitic hate has spiked 57 percent under Trump, the media needs to be careful about encouraging unfounded fatalism.

NEXT: 3 Reasons 'Medicare for All' Is a Really Bad Idea

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Most bullies of kid age don’t pay attention to politics so the hate they are showing must have been hate taught at the schools by all the leftest teachers preaching hate of anything right of left

    1. I mean where else besides school do kids learn things?

      1. Well we know where they learn things that aren’t true, but it seems unfair to pick on the philosophy students.

  2. This includes the Jewish kid from Israel and his numerous bomb threats and the former Obama campaign member who tried setting up his ex girlfriend right?

    Fake hate crimes seem to be on the up as well.

    1. Fake hate crimes seem to be on the up as well.

      Fate crimes?

  3. C’mon Robby. Vox isn’t a news site. It’s progressive propaganda for remedial readers.

    1. Writers for this blog seem to refer to it an awful lot. It’s totally baffling to me that they take it seriously at all, much less use it as a go-to reference.

      1. It’s one of the few outlets that makes reason writers think “at least I don’t work there.”

      2. Vox is the new Conor Friedersdorf.

  4. When the government is controlled by an alt-right white nationalist, it’s unfortunate but inevitable that hate groups will be emboldened. Democrats taking back the House will help, but we won’t be where we need to be as a country until they have the presidency again too.


    1. You mean after Hillary decides the progressives can be civil again?

      Pot: Kettle.

  5. And how many of the complaints were about graffiti on the order of :”HAIL [swastika]*RUMP” etc. It is clear to anyone with half a brain that that Anti-Trumpists are responsible for that kind of thing.

    *the swastika replaced the T character in TRUMP, in case any of you missed it.

    1. How many more incidents were “muslim girl has headscarf ripped off by Trump supporters” only to have the entire thing turn out to be “muslim girl out past curfew makes up story to get out of trouble”. Seems islamaphobic and racist “hate crimes” of that nature were national news every week for most of 2017.

    2. It’s funny because swastika rump was my nickname at nazi youth camp.

    3. “*the swastika replaced the T character in TRUMP, in case any of you missed it.”
      How do you pronounce that?

  6. Probably not; it’s likelier that the police simply submitted more reliable data this year

    It could also be more unreliable data. They could just have changed their policy as what counts as a hate crime, certainly a more ill defined term than many crimes. There are many reasons.

    1. They submitted more data, in any case.

      1. Yes. To be clear, my issue was his usage of “likely” which I think is too strong a statement in a complex space.

      2. When you’re counting incidents, “police submitting more data” yields the same increase as “more police submitting data.”

        You also get more reports because more people report “hate” to the police, because “everybody knows” hate crimes will increase because Trump. Self-fulfilling prophesy.

  7. Everyone is having less sex.

    Don’t procrasturbate, read this important article.

    1. Further outside the mainstream, the far-right Proud Boys group has a “no wanks” policy, which prohibits masturbating more than once a month.

      This article is full of gems.

      1. Does the far-left have a policy of at least once a day?

        1. Prog thought amounts to mental masturbation, so any kind of restrictive policy on onanism would cripple their movement.

      2. I don’t know that they are so much far-right as a bit silly. I think it is pretty obviously Mr. McInnes’s M.O. to set up something with the aesthetics, so to speak, of an early-20th-century colored shirt brigade, a skinhead gang, a modern identitarian or radical group, and so forth, except instead of racist or far-left politics it is for a ho-hum benign civic nationalism and cultural traditionalism. I think he wants it to have the media savvy of current extremist groups, and knows how to troll the media to get attention by doing things that “trigger” their silly overactive “extremist” alarms and make them look silly to his audience and just generally gain some attention. It’s also possible that he feels he is doing good work by giving men disaffected from current trends some place they might feel at home and enjoy the “fun” trappings of extremism without turning to the real deal. And maybe he just enjoys the attention, the fun of leading a movement and a personality cult and so forth. He probably knows and enjoys that the name sounds a bit gay too.

    2. One especially springlike morning in May, as Debby Herbenick and I walked her baby through a park in Bloomington, Indiana, she shared a bit of advice she sometimes offers students at Indiana University, where she is a leading sex researcher. “If you’re with somebody for the first time,” she said evenly, “don’t choke them, don’t ejaculate on their face, don’t try to have anal sex with them. These are all things that are just unlikely to go over well.”

      I am just learning all kinds of things.

      1. Get ongoing, enthusiastic consent for noiseless missionary position sex in the dark with your socks on.

        1. #1 turn off is naked men wearing socks.

      2. The More You Know … ?

  8. the media needs to be careful about encouraging unfounded fatalism.

    But if they don’t do it, who will?

  9. Did they count this as a “hate crime”? “James Polite: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know” https://heavy.com/news/2018/11/james-polite/

    1. It is a self-hate crime I suppose.

  10. What about this? Is this counted as a “hate crime”?

    “Jewish Uptown man accused of drawing swastika graffiti; Before 2016 election, he was accused of threatening to rape a woman ? “You f*cking Republican!” http://www.cwbchicago.com/2018…..ed-of.html

  11. “1,000 more agencies submitted data in 2017 vs. 2016”

    It makes me sad that we have 1,000 agencies to report this data, let alone 1,000 MORE.

    The concept of ‘hate crime’ presupposes the ability of a prosecutor to determine the thoughts of another person at a time before the prosecutor even knew that person existed. I have my doubts.
    A thief determines he needs some money for dinner and drugs. Being a thief, he determines to rob the next person he encounters. Whether or not this can be reported as a hate crime depends on the relative races, religions, and sex of the thief and the victim. Hate crime numbers are meaningless.
    If we stop crimes of violence, we by definition stop what is called hate crime.

    1. Hate crime enhancements are a scam.

      Most crimes dont even require the state prove mens rea, so what does it matter why someone did something.

      If you can prove that someone committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, then they can be found guilty.

      1. I don’t know that those stats are for convictions on hate crime charges or with hate crime enhancements though. “Hate crime” in that capacity is an idiotic concept abhorrent to a free people. Collecting statistics on various crime motives–racism, rage at suspected adultery, etc.–would be a useful project in theory. Unfortunately these are pretty much useless.

  12. Mr. Soave, you’ve left out critical details yourself. How many agencies were reporting the year before? And are we talking about 1000 small towns now reporting? Doesn’t that matter in the analysis?

  13. Keep in mind that hate criminals are like cockroaches, for every one you see there’s hundreds more under your refrigerator so I’m sure the real percentage increase in hate crimes is like 5000%.

    Then there’s the haters that aren’t criminals simply for lack of opportunity – there’s millions of haters in flyover country but there’s not enough victims to go around so most of the haters never get a crack at them. Airdrop a couple dozen gay Jews into Arkansas and the hate crime rate would explode.

    1. I’m sure the real percentage increase in hate crimes is like 5000%

  14. Someone forgot George Carlin’s First Rule.

    1. “Don’t Talk About George Carlin”??

  15. It is extremely, extremely important that a bunch of old wrinkly guys in boxy suits giving policy speeches in America’s sexiest and most glamorous city, Washington D.C., are always on their best behavior, given their status as pinup idols for the youth of this country. Young people hang on their every word and ape their every move so they can be cool like them.

  16. This article has a little bit of everything that is wrong with the world.

    So, Amazon decides to put their new big center in New York. Predictably, people are complaining… But oh, the stupid…..

    Congresswoman-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

    “Amazon is a billion-dollar company. The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here,”

    Uh,… Ok. We don’t want Amazon investing in our community because we need investment in…. ah, nevermind.

    But it gets better:

    “If you’re going to drop 25,000 people making more than $100,000 a year in a hot housing market, it is inevitable,” he said. “If local officials are not very intentional about attaching strings to this deal, including affordable housing safeguards and transit improvements, it is going to be very hard” for residents already trying to get by in those cities, he said.

    Got it? More jobs is bad for the economy because they aren’t promising to build housing for the poor? What kind of mental illness makes people think like that? I suppose it never occurred to him that if government wouldn’t block real estate development then they wouldn’t have an affordable housing issue…

    1. Yeah, this is a comment on how Bezos had little choice but to do what he did, and thereby stuffed it to the lefties. VERY bright move and any of the alternatives I can see would have been very costly.
      Had he simply said “I want to site it here”, lefty ignoramuses like that idiot woman would have screamed about ‘gentrification’ and other bullshit issues, and cost him millions in legal fees to defend the move.
      Instead, he got the taxpayers who elected such idiots to pay his legal fees in taxes to oppose such idiocy.
      It ain’t 4-d chess, but it was a very good move.

  17. Staff meeting recording:
    ‘If we change the definition to this (X), how does that affect our budget proposal? No?
    OK, how about we change it to (Y)? Does that get the numbers where we need them?”

  18. If they had more agencies reporting they could easily control for that.

    I think the FBI is just putting out raw numbers. That is fine. Interpreting the data is another matter.

  19. “and he’s been repeatedly criticized, from his campaign to his presidential statements and tweets, of stoking racist sentiment, ”

    by the people *actually* incessantly stoking racial resentment.

    The Left has nothing to sell but the fear, hatred, and resentment of identity politics.

  20. Hate crimes flat: zero for 242nd straight year.

    No such thing as hate crime. 100% projection and virtue signaling.

  21. As with the dubious claim that anti-Semitic hate has spiked 57 percent under Trump, the media needs to be careful about encouraging unfounded fatalism.

    You know who else ginned up anti-Semitism to bolster their position?

  22. If you take out all of the left wing black flag incidents and faux outrage and exaggerated scenarios and attributing regular crime to hate crime because the perpetrater was cis, straight, and white and the victim wasn’t, hate crimes in the US went from 0 to 0 year over year.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.