Politics & Policy

Hate Speech Leads to Hate Crimes

A memorial for slain NYPD officers. (Spencer Platt/Getty)
The culpability for inciting the murder of two cops reaches to the highest levels of media and government.

America and the West are subjected nonstop to a barrage of hate speech from the intelligentsia. Hate speech leads to hate crimes, here as everywhere. Few people have faced up to the extent of the hate crimes and hate speech against the West. The murder of the two New York City policemen Saturday is only the tip of the iceberg.

Literally thousands of inciters have propagated a dishonest storyline of widespread police violence against blacks. And what we’ve seen in recent months is only the current instance in a long history of incitement against the West. A view of the West as enemy is cultivated in universities across the country as the cutting edge of moral thinking, with full rein given to a very un-academic manner of speech, replete with the colorful language of vilification. From these heights, the same attitudes inevitably seep into other venues, including textbooks for much younger students. The bulk of journalists and teachers do not believe in the full range of anti-Western ideology, but they accept it as an orienting guide. It is the only moral doctrine that they have heard with any frequency since they made it into the world of the talking classes. It is the only normative system they hear that makes demands on them with any vigor. They have nearly forgotten the quaint notions they were brought up on as children, such as conscience before society, or guilt for having failed society; they have settled into a subculture where “conscience” is reduced to conscience against society and aggressive accusations about society’s guilt. And so, on issue after issue, year after year, the media speak in a language of blaming the West and identifying with anger against the West.

The unseen iceberg of hate crimes against the West is similarly massive, on a scale that few can imagine. 9/11 was one incident among many around the world. Domestically, unacknowledged hate crimes in the street — violent crimes motivated in part by the hate that is cultivated against mainstream society — number more than half a million a year. This is not noticed or counted. Were it to be counted, and held against the hate speech that fans it, it would turn the perception of public hate upside down. Or rather, right side up. The primary ground and origin of hate lies in the very subculture that criticizes “hate” most often, because it is uses “hate” as a label for smearing those it doesn’t like.

Viewed in full, hate crimes against the West — against Americans, against Westerners, and against groups and religions identified as pro-Western — run into the millions. They are the main hate crimes perpetrated on a global scale, although sometimes exceeded in raw numbers by regional hate crimes (committed by local ethno-religious groups against each other).

If the white victims of interracial violence were shown on nationwide TV every day — with posters that proclaimed White Lives Matter! — the current form of incitement would collapse of its own weight. This would also happen if we gave the same prominence to the unarmed whites who die in police shootings that we give to the (half as many) unarmed blacks who die that way, or if the media broadcast every black-on-black killing, or if the media even took the step of always showing up when police officers were killed.

The conclusion is inescapable: The incitement depends on the media’s massive deception of the public, deception about the plain facts about who is usually killing whom. This deception also includes, in nearly every specific instance recently highlighted nationwide, deception about the weight of the evidence about who is guilty.

The target for those who cultivate such daily hate is not only the police. It is not even only whites. It is all who are branded as “privileged,” domestically and globally — in other words, most of society, minus the designated victims of society, and with exemptions for those identified as being countercultural or against society.

That means the targets are whites and males, but they’re also women and blacks — when they are too supportive of America. (That would be most women and blacks, if we hear what they say rather than dismissing their words as ignorant or manipulated by the “privileged.”) Also targeted are supporters of the law and the traditional sectors of government that protect society, which is where the police come in as targets, along with the military and the CIA.

Those who incite hatred do not stop at national borders. The hate campaign against Mubarak, for instance, was a reminder of what can happen to genuine statesmen who are friends of the West. It far exceeded, in both its tone and its demands, what is said against the genuine demons of the world, such as the Kims of North Korea. Journalists and scholars bend over backward to give the benefit of the doubt to hostile regimes. They warn against “demonizing” enemies. They enthusiastically join local anti-Western forces in demonizing friends of the West. And they mostly ignore it — and sometimes support it — when those local anti-Westerners proceed to commit crimes of hate against those same local pro-Westerners and against local Christians and ethnic groups vaguely identified with the West.

The cultivation of hate and racism against the West and the “privileged” is excused by saying that it cannot be truly hateful or racist or dangerous, because it is the “privileged” who have “the means” to do real harm. Reverend Wright has expressed this view openly, but it’s a common doctrine on the left. The millions of “privileged” victims of hate crimes are rendered invisible by this logic. The harm done to them is not counted as real.

Excusing this illogic, in turn, is the doctrine that the West is the main source of evil in the world, so cultivation of hate against it is always basically right, no matter the facts and no matter the collateral damage. This belief dies hard. All the replacement faiths, from Communism to Third Worldism to Islamism, have proved disasters and been for the most part given up by the intelligentsia, but the orientation against the West as enemy remains invariant. The intellectuals are dead wrong about the West, and with deadly consequences, but they will not give up their hatreds easily.

From what venues does the incitement come? Primarily from the talking classes within the West itself: from the daily mass media; from mainstream Internet sites; from universities; from leftist organizations and politicians.

Who is in principle culpable for the incitement to hate and violence? I fear that an honest evaluation would show that it’s millions of people. If one were to imagine that courts were able suddenly to strip away the obstructions to justice that come from entrenched ideological doctrines and media pressures, those who mete out justice wouldn’t know where to begin. But the culpability would reach high — as high as an attorney general and a president who incite quietly and explicitly sympathize with the noisier incitement on the streets (while they pay lip service to the notion that people should not draw the logical conclusion and get violent), and as high as media executives and news anchors who incite quietly and encourage noisier incitement from their underlings.

A few progressives have threatened urban warfare. It is not impossible, if the incitement persists.

Justice will not be done. Those who have been inciting will face no charges. Their victims will not receive justice. Nevertheless, it is vitally important that America find a way to stop its political and media leaders from continuing to incite hatred.

Ira Straus is executive director of Democracy International and U.S. coordinator of the Committee on Eastern Europe and Russia in NATO. He has also been a Fulbright professor of political science and international relations. The views expressed herein are solely his own.


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