Fifth, consider hate crimes with the worst possible outcome: death. The subject has been in the headlines after a deranged woman suspected of murdering a Hindu man, Sunando Sen, by pushing him from a New York subway platform on December 27 told police that she “hate[s] Hindus and Muslims,” whom she collectively blames for 9/11, and that she believed Sen to be Muslim. Following the initial rush to label Sen’s murder a hate crime, journalists have learned that the alleged murderer had a long history of severe mental illness, had received only intermittent treatment despite numerous pleas for help and warnings from the family, and had repeatedly gone off her medication.
As the usual voices fault “our oversaturated Islamophobic environment
” and “growing anti-Muslim hate
,” they neglect to mention how rare it is for an actual or perceived Muslim to die in a hate crime. By the FBI’s count, 74 people were killed in hate crimes (“murder and nonnegligent manslaughter” in Table 4) from 2002 to 2011, but not a single one in an anti-Muslim incident. Indeed, the FBI lists no anti-Muslim fatalities since 1995, corresponding to the earliest report available.
Why do Islamists obfuscate? The false picture of an epidemic of physical assaults on Muslims distracts Americans from Islamist hatred and enshrines Muslims as the country’s leading victim class, a strategy intended to intimidate citizens into remaining quiet about Islamic supremacism and lay the groundwork for granting Muslims special privileges and protections at the expense of others. In short, anti-Muslim hate crimes are a powerful Islamist weapon.
At its extreme, the desire to achieve victim status in this manner has fueled the phenomenon of fake hate crimes, through staging, blatant misrepresentation, or both. An illustrative example is the March 2012 murder of Shaima Alawadi, a hijab-wearing California woman found beaten to death at home with a note calling her a terrorist beside her body. Islamists and their credulous media allies pounced at the opportunity to condemn the supposed tidal wave of “Islamophobia,” even as marital problems emerged as a potential motive. In November, police arrested Alawadi’s husband.
Genuine hate crimes committed against any group are deplorable, but they must be placed in the proper context. First, hate crimes are uncommon across the board. Second, despite hyperbole about “anti-Muslim violence spiralling out of control in America” and producing “one of the most hostile moments that the Muslim American community has ever experienced,” the real story is the amazing tolerance and restraint of the American people. Imported Muslim fanatics murdered thousands on 9/11, the threat of homegrown jihad has crystallized, and Islamists abroad continue to slaughter innocents daily. Though Americans could find no lack of excuses to strike out at their Muslim neighbors, almost nobody does – and thankfully so. As such, the annual victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes average between three and four per U.S. state and would have trouble filling a decent-sized jetliner.
Many Americans take a critical view of Islam, but virtually all restrict their negative sentiments to the domain of words and ideas, as civilized human beings should. People are free to have opinions, including anti-Islamic ones, regardless of how Islamists long to muzzle them. Islamists, in turn, are entitled to their own opinions about life in America. But they are not entitled to their own facts.
— David J. Rusin is a research fellow at Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.