The U.S. Census Bureau derived the total, Hispanic, and black populations for 2000 and 2010 from direct counts. Approximating their evolution with linear models, one can obtain estimates for any non-census year and, most important, the 2002–11 averages: total (299.2 million), Hispanic (45.2 million), and black (37.4 million). Surveys indicate that around 3.5 percent of American adults identify as homosexual or bisexual; applying this percentage to the total population gives a 2002–11 average of 10.5 million. Two studies have pegged the number of American Jews at about 6.5 million in 2010. Figures for 2000 vary (5.3–6.2 million), so for simplicity we set the average Jewish population between 2002 and 2011 at 6.2 million to account for moderate growth. As for Muslims, whose population estimates have a convoluted history, reputable recent numbers have been provided by the Pew Research Center (2.75 million in 2011) and the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (2.6 million in 2010; full data extractable here), which agree on the current size and growth rate (around 100,000 per year). The 2002–11 average is roughly 2.3 million Muslims.
Adding the FBI data yields per capita frequencies of hate crimes for the past decade. Of the five main minority groups discussed above, Jews were most likely to experience hate crimes, with 14.8 incidents per 100,000 Jews annually. Homosexuals and bisexuals (combined) came next (11.5), followed by blacks (6.7), Muslims (6.0), and Hispanics (1.1). Rates for majority whites and Christians were much smaller.
With hate crimes befalling Muslims far less often than they do Jews or homosexuals and bisexuals and slightly less often than they befall blacks, it is clear that anti-Muslim incidents are disproportionate to those targeting other minorities only in terms of the hype generated on their behalf. A closer look reinforces this conclusion.
First, despite claims about a surge of prejudice, anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2010 and 2011 merely returned to the typical post-9/11 (2002–06) pace of 150–160 incidents per year. Further, a similar number of hate crimes in 2002 and 2011 implies a lower per capita rate in 2011 because of strong population growth.
Second, what of the Muslim-population estimate? In hopes of inflating their presumed clout, Islamist groups routinely assert the existence of around 7 million American Muslims, three times as many as the more objective measurements. Note, however, that this Islamist-promoted figure actually would weaken their narrative of anti-Muslim hate crimes, because a higher population reduces the per capita frequency, thus painting them as even less significant in a statistical sense.
Third, though 2001, whose rash of hate crimes against Muslims was an outlier tied to a unique event, has been excluded from the above analysis, the 2001–11 rate for Muslims was just 7.4 incidents per 100,000 per year, still far short of that applying to Jews or homosexuals and bisexuals. Self-pitying Islamists also want us to forget that in spite of 9/11-related anger, anti-Jewish hate crimes outnumbered anti-Muslim hate crimes that year by more than two to one.
Fourth, could incomplete data affect the finding that Muslims are victimized less often than many non-Muslim minorities? Theoretically, yes, but evidence for this is scant. SPLC talking heads regularly cite a 2005 Justice Department study, using surveys of victims’ perceptions of whether prejudice had motivated crimes against them, to argue that the FBI underestimates overall hate crimes by an order of magnitude. Yet even if those claims are valid, nothing suggests that anti-Muslim crimes are more or less likely to be ignored than others, which would be necessary to alter the relative frequencies of hate crimes against different groups. Another source of incompleteness is that not all local law-enforcement agencies take part in the FBI’s tabulation, but once again there is no obvious bias here that would preferentially diminish hate crimes against Muslims. Also note that the percentage of participating agencies (see the FBI’s Table 12) is large and slowly climbing, covering 86 percent of the U.S. population in 2002 and 92 percent in 2011, meaning that improved reporting could have helped elevate the number of FBI-recorded hate crimes in later years. Although this impact is probably small, it further chips away at the meme of rising hate.