The Corner

Politics & Policy

Always Be Skeptical of Big Claims Involving Hate Crimes

The newest one, that counties that hosted Trump rallies in 2016 saw a “226 percent increase in hate crimes” in “subsequent months,” appears in the Washington Post via a write-up from three academics. They provide a link on the words “our research,” but clicking it leads one to the website of the academic conference next month at which they will present their findings, not to an actual study, so the details provided in the Post are all we have to go on.

There are some . . . reasons for caution.

One is that the hate-crime data come from the Anti-Defamation League; David Bernstein wrote a compelling piece for Tablet late last year explaining why the ADL’s numbers should not be seen as definitive. (Bernstein focused on the group’s tally of anti-Semitic incidents in particular, while this study includes all the hate incidents the group records.) Most important, the organization relies on reports of hate crimes from the media and other public sources, so any patterns in the data — including a gigantic nationwide increase since Trump’s election, and, yes, any local increase observed following Trump rallies — might stem from changes in crime reporting and/or media interest rather than from actual changes in hate-crime rates.

Second, I would not cavalierly dismiss, as the authors do, the idea that fake hate crimes might play some role — especially in the wake of Jussie Smollett’s little prank, not to mention the fact that the ADL’s data include 163 bomb threats to Jewish community centers made by an Israeli teenager, himself Jewish. “ADL included them in the total count because, regardless of the motivation of any specific perpetrator, Jewish communities were repeatedly traumatized by these threats,” the group explained in its response to Bernstein.

Third, the ADL counted 1,317 hate incidents in 2016 and 2,481 in 2017; meanwhile, there are more than 3,000 counties in the U.S. When there aren’t enough hate crimes recorded for each county to have one a year and the study analyzes periods of “months,” a “226 percent” increase in hate crimes may be a rather tiny number for the typical county that hosted a Trump rally, depending on its size. We can’t really say because the authors don’t provide the actual number of hate crimes the rallies allegedly caused.

I’m hardly a tireless defender of Trump’s rhetoric, but color me dubious of this attempt to show that it has had devastating and criminal consequences.

Most Popular

PC Culture

Defiant Dave Chappelle

When Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special Sticks & Stones came out in August, the overwhelming response from critics was that it was offensive, unacceptable garbage. Inkoo Kang of Slate declared that Chappelle’s “jokes make you wince.” Garrett Martin, in the online magazine Paste, maintained that the ... Read More
Film & TV

Joker: An Honest Treatment of Madness

When I saw that the New York Times and The New Yorker had run columns berating the new Joker movie, criticizing it not simply on cinematic grounds but instead insisting that the film amounted to a clandestine defense of “whiteness” in an attempt to buttress the electoral aim of “Republicans” — this is a ... Read More

The Democrats’ Disastrous CNN LGBT Town Hall

A few days after Donald Trump committed the worst foreign-policy blunder of his presidency by betraying America’s Kurdish allies in northern Syria, former vice president Joe Biden, the elder statesman and co-frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primary, was on a national stage talking to CNN’s primetime ... Read More
White House

What Is Impeachment For?

W hat is impeachment for? Seems like a simple question. Constitutionally speaking, it also appears to have a simple answer: to cite and remove from power a president guilty of wrongdoing. Aye, there’s the rub. What sort of wrongdoing warrants removal from power? I’d wager that the flames of ... Read More

Beto Proposes to Oppress Church with State

Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign is within the margin of error of non-existence, but in his failure he has found a purpose: expressing the Democratic id. His latest bid for left-wing love came at a CNN forum on gay rights, where he said that churches that oppose same-sex marriage should have to pay ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Fox News Anchor Shepard Smith Resigns

Fox News Channel's chief anchor, Shepard Smith, announced on air Friday that he would be resigning from his post after 23 years with the network. “This is my last newscast here,” said Smith. “Recently, I asked the company to allow me to leave Fox News. After requesting that I stay, they obliged.” He ... Read More