I don’t feel better

12 Dec

Here’s the headline from the LA Times: “Hate crimes down in 2011, but anti-gay violence up, FBI says”  (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-fbi-hate-crimes-20121211,0,1940858.story).

It’s the “but.”

Hard to feel good about any hate crimes happening, and any group seeing a rise in hate.

The statistics collected by the FBI show a diversity of targets for hatred, coming from a diversity of groups, although whites, Christians and heterosexuals still seem to commit the significant majority of race-based, religion-based and sexuality-based hate crimes, aimed primarily at black people, Jewish people and gay men.

And then there’s the disparity between the number of crimes reported to law enforcement, versus the number of crimes reported via an anonymous Justice Department survey: the FBI’s official number of 6,222 hate crimes in 2011 explodes to almost 200,000 annually when you go off the record. And that’s still just those folks who had access to the Justice Department survey and trusted that they could answer honestly and anonymously.

All this makes me think: while it’s easy, in places like the SF Bay Area, to think hate crimes happen in those other (read: backward and ignorant) parts of the country, I think this is still our problem, too. Because the whole attitude that “those” people aren’t “our” people” is at the heart of hate crimes, no?

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