Spyhopping the Right.
David Neiwert is a freelance journalist based in Seattle. He is the author of Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community (Palgrave/St. Martin's Press, June 2005), as well as Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Trial, and Hate Crime in America, (Palgrave/St. Martin's, 2004), and In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest (1999, WSU Press). His reportage for MSNBC.com on domestic terrorism won the National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism in 2000. His freelance work can be found at Salon.com, the Washington Post, MSNBC and various other publications. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sara Robinson has worked as an editor or columnist for several national magazines, on beats as varied as sports, travel, and the Olympics; and has contributed to over 80 computer games for EA, Lucasfilm, Disney, and many other companies. A native of California's High Sierra, she spent 20 years in Silicon Valley before moving to Vancouver, BC in 2004. Her lifelong interest in the social effects of authoritarianism have most recently led her to pursue the MS in Futures Studies at the University of Houston. She's also a student member of the Association of Professional Futurists, and member of the Accelerated Studies Foundation advisory board on social and cultural issues. For fun, she raises kids and travels. You can reach her at email@example.com.
Sara's recent series:
Cracks in the Wall: Parts I, II, and III.
Tunnels and Bridges: Parts I, II, III, and IV, plus a Short Detour.
Dave's recent series:
The March of the Minutemen
Intro: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.
Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.
Other books by Dave [limited availability]:
"The Rise of Pseudo Fascism": An essay
Available in Adobe PDF format here
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Original posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7.
"The Political and the Personal"
"Bush, the Nazis and America":
Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An Exegesis
[Suggested $5 donation]
[In HTML: Parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X,, XI, XII, XIII, XIV and XV. See explanatory note.]
[Also available in HTML, and with art, at Cursor.]
Orcinus Principium No. 1
Orcinus Principium No. 2
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Just wondering, Bill O'Reilly: Is this part of the "war on Christmas"?
- Some spectators at Pulaski's annual Christmas parade were dismayed when they saw among the parade entries a vehicle plastered with Ku Klux Klan and Confederate bumper stickers and a hand-lettered door sign with holiday greetings from the white-supremacist group.
The old, lime-green Ford Bronco offended Jacob Trompeter, who's Jewish and said his father survived Nazi prison camps. He says he's never seen anything like it in his 50 years as a Pulaski resident.
Lee Wolfe, a Jaycees member who helped organize Thursday night's event, said registrations ware taken until the night of the parade, and people who don't register generally get put in the back of the procession.
But Trompeter says the Bronco appeared in the first half of the parade.
Sure sounds to me like people with anti-Christian beliefs trying to take away the meaning of Christmas for everyone else. But hey, what do I know?
All I know is that they keep getting bolder all the time.
Friday, December 02, 2005
Has anyone else noticed that it's been a full 10 days since I wrapped up my critique of Michelle Malkin's Unhinged -- and still nary a peep from her?
Indeed, the entirety of Malkin's response to my critique of her work over the years has been to pretend that I simply don't exist.
Isn't this someone who likes to brag before her audiences that she unflinchingly takes on her critics?
Or is it maybe just that she only takes on blogging critics who don't really exist?
Ah, but she does have time to depict Janeane Garofolo as "unhinged" -- while bandying the same line of rhetoric that was pretty thoroughly examined in the series, and pretty thoroughly found wanting. (It isn't conservatives who act unhinged? Really?)
I guess that, in order to be deemed worthy of a response from Malkin, you have to descend into the gutter that she so vigorously decries.
Now why is that?
New Orleans: racial cleansing?
Thursday, December 01, 2005
The news today out of New Orleans regarding the reopening of the Lower Ninth Ward represents an important step forward, of sorts. But the stories also make clear the enormity of the task that lies ahead.
What's of real concern is the shadows of race and class that have been lurking over the whole disaster since it befell the city.
Those shadows, it appears, are becoming even more ominous as the handling of the city's rebuilding unfolds.
Especially disturbing were the observations of Tulane University professor Larry Powell the other day in Pennsylvania:
- Tulane University history professor Larry Powell warned that Hurricane Katrina may be seen as a type of ethnic cleansing by white supremacists.
Powell talked to a group of Penn students and faculty about the problems New Orleans will face during its reconstruction yesterday at the Center for Africana Studies.
His book, New Masters, is about the problems of desegregation and racial conflict.
According to Powell, the culturally diverse city, which has Italian, German and black inhabitants, is also the home of open racism.
He said some residents hope that black people will not resettle in New Orleans after reconstruction, he said, adding that the group includes some of the city's richest and most influential citizens.
"New Orleans has become the focal point of some sort of white supremacist movement," Powell said.
He added that the long road of reconstruction ahead can only be traveled by those who keep the city's history in consideration.
Powell's framing of the rebuilding in this light is alarming, to say the least. However, it's not entirely without substance.
Recall, if you will, the vicious outpouring of racial hatred by New Orleans' most noted white supremacist, David Duke, and his fellow white supremacists in the wake of the disaster. Recall how much of the mainstream media coverage -- rife with images of black looters and tales (later proven false) of shootings, rapes, and multiple murders -- fed that outpouring.
The mainstream connection continues: Duke more recently has taken to quoting the NRA's Wayne LaPierre as justification for his ongoing jihad against the city's black population. Unsurprisingly, Duke has made clear he sees the black population as a blight on New Orleans.
As it happens, much of what white supremacists want to see happen to the city is, in fact, what is happening.
Black residents of New Orleans voiced concerns at the time that officials were going to once again betray them when it came to rebuilding the city. As Steven Pearlstein explained in the Washington Post, poor blacks were already the prime victims of the Katrina disaster, and the likelihood of that victimhood being magnified in the recovery was great.
So, sure enugh, a couple of months ago, HUD administrator Alphonso Jackson made clear that the city's demographics were indeed going to be reordered in the rebuilding:
- "Whether we like it or not, New Orleans is not going to be 500,000 people for a long time," he said. "New Orleans is not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again."
... Alphonso Jackson predicted New Orleans will slowly draw back as many as 375,000 people, but that only 35 to 40 percent of the post-Katrina population would be black.
Jackson said that's because the worst-hit areas were low-income black neighborhoods that may never fully be repopulated.
Prior to Katrina, the population was 67 percent black and 28 percent white.
The way that this reordering has been coming about has been predictable: a slow pace in restoring infrastructure, especially the city's schools:
- The schools may be the best barometer of the health of New Orleans' recovery, and the prognosis is not good. Although some private and parochial schools have reopened, the locked doors at the city's 117 public schools -- schools that were overwhelmingly attended by black students and overwhelmingly poor -- stand as testimony to the economic and racial divide of a recovery effort sliding into its toughest hours, the daunting challenge of coaxing tens of thousands of residents back to a city that cannot house or educate them.
The 40 or so administrators, the few public school employees who are still on the payroll after a systemwide furlough, are now crowded into kid-size computer desks at an elementary school. Messages -- from the sad, the frustrated, and the confused -- blink onto their screens. The mother of an honors student enrolled in another school district says: "Her teacher has stated to the class that if he has to take in another Katrina student he is going to scream."
Naomi Klein reported on this trend a few weeks back in The Nation:
- I don't have the heart to tell Nyler that I suspect she is on to something; that many of the African-American workers from her neighborhood may never be welcomed back to rebuild their city. An hour earlier I had interviewed New Orleans' top corporate lobbyist, Mark Drennen. As president and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc., Drennen was in an expansive mood, pumped up by signs from Washington that the corporations he represents -- everything from Chevron to Liberty Bank to Coca-Cola -- were about to receive a package of tax breaks, subsidies and relaxed regulations so generous it would make the job of a lobbyist virtually obsolete.
Listening to Drennen enthuse about the opportunities opened up by the storm, I was struck by his reference to African-Americans in New Orleans as "the minority community." At 67 percent of the population, they are in fact the clear majority, while whites like Drennen make up just 27 percent. It was no doubt a simple verbal slip, but I couldn't help feeling that it was also a glimpse into the desired demographics of the new-and-improved city being imagined by its white elite, one that won't have much room for Nyler or her neighbors who know how to fix houses. "I honestly don't know and I don't think anyone knows how they are going to fit in," Drennen said of the city's unemployed.
New Orleans is already displaying signs of a demographic shift so dramatic that some evacuees describe it as "ethnic cleansing." Before Mayor Ray Nagin called for a second evacuation, the people streaming back into dry areas were mostly white, while those with no homes to return to are overwhelmingly black. This, we are assured, is not a conspiracy; it's simple geography--a reflection of the fact that wealth in New Orleans buys altitude. That means that the driest areas are the whitest (the French Quarter is 90 percent white; the Garden District, 89 percent; Audubon, 86 percent; neighboring Jefferson Parish, where people were also allowed to return, 65 percent). Some dry areas, like Algiers, did have large low-income African-American populations before the storm, but in all the billions for reconstruction, there is no budget for transportation back from the far-flung shelters where those residents ended up. So even when resettlement is permitted, many may not be able to return.
Indeed, this slow pace is now giving rise to genuine rage on the part of the hurricane victims:
- At a meeting to review the Washington-based Urban Land Institute's restoration plan, some city councilors ended up shouting in frustration that their color-coded maps that indicate the priority of rebuilding was "causing people to lose hope," the New Orleans Times Picayune reported.
Throughout the discussion, ULI officials emphasized that their report is a work in progress and that any final decisions will be left to the city's political leadership.
Meanwhile, two residents told Mayor Ray Nagin on Tuesday they were unhappy with the Bush administration's level of commitment at home compared with Iraq, CNN reported.
"If they can destroy a country and build it up again, why can't they fix this state?" a woman asked.
Another man echoed her remarks.
"It's a hard thing to believe that the United States of America is spending nearly one billion (dollars) per week in Iraq, and here, in New Orleans, the United States, we're being neglected."
Undoubtedly, we'll soon start hearing that these people are "unhinged."
This is, once again, a reflection of the kind of leadership being provided by the Bush administration:
- Those policies were a product of this administration's priorities, which in the end are always about promoting the well-being of the moneyed class at the expense of the middle classes and poor, while effectively driving a wedge within those classes. That's no conspiracy; it's just the way the world works, especially with men like Bush in charge.
[Note: This post is my contribution to Chris Clarke's Blog Against Racism campaign being held today -- even though I think it's safe to say that every day here qualifies.]
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Hmmm. Gathering from what Bill O'Reilly said the other day on the Today Show:
- These pin-heads running around going, "Get out of Iraq now" don't know what they are talking about. These are the same people before Hitler invaded in WWII that were saying, "He's not such a bad guy.' They don't get it.
... he could use a little history lesson.
After all, let's recall just who those sympathizers were -- namely, the captains of America's mainstream conservative right who led what was called the America First Committee:
- The AFC had its origins in 1940, when a Yale law student named R. Douglas Stuart Jr. organized a petition on campus to build opposition to intervention in the European wars then reaching a high pitch. He found a sponsor in Robert E. Wood, chairman of the board at Sears, Roebuck -- then and now the quintessentially middle-American company. Wood and a group of fellow Chicago businessmen (including former diplomat William R. Castle, who had been a high-ranking Hoover Administration official, and whose work appeared in Japanese and German propaganda publications; and William Regnery, founder of Regnery Publishing ... yes, that Regnery Publishing ...) helped Stuart form plans for a large-scale organization, which led to the naming and formation of the America First Committee in August of that year.
The chief point of agitation for the America Firsters was FDR's loosening of the arms embargo to Europe -- particularly for Britain and France -- shortly after Hitler's invasion of Poland in September 1939 and the subsequent outbreak of war. In retrospect, of course, this not only helped pull the United States inexorably to war, it was the morally courageous -- and right -- thing to do. To have utterly abandoned Britain especially to the tender mercies of the Nazis would have been cowardice, and almost certainly would have wrought an unimaginable nightmare: complete and uncontested Nazi hegemony in Europe, a reign that may well have continued even to the present day. The idea that America First was in hindsight somehow "right" is both laughable and truly contemptible. Defenders of America First (including Patrick Buchanan) like to argue that Hitler's regime eventually would have collapsed under its own weight -- but the evidence they present for this is thin and quite unconvincing.
Nonetheless, in its origins at least, America First was in truth largely a mainstream response that was mostly isolationist, and not fascist, in nature. Its charter even specifically announced that Nazis, fascists and communists were not welcome.
But even in the beginning, there were warning signs: Among the first members of the committee were Henry Ford, who, as the publisher of the Protocols hoax-promoting text, The International Jew, was not only one of the foremost progenitors of anti-Semitism in America, but had an open and celebrated business and ideological connection with Hitler's war machine.
Also on that original national committee:
-- Avery Brundage, former Chairman of the American Olympic Games Committee when in Berlin 1936. Brundage's behavior in that episode had already earned its place in history as one of the low watermarks of cowardice and complicity in the Nazis' consolidation of their power.
-- Charles A. Lindbergh, the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic and a household name even still, was to become the leading spokesman for the America First Committee -- as well as a notable anti-Semite.
The arc of Lindbergh's career in this period mirrored that of the America First Committee itself -- beginning, to all appearances, as mainstream isolationists and pacifists, but then rapidly devolving into something more sinister. The first real warning sign came at a May 29, 1941 rally in Philadelphia with 16,000 in attendance, when many audience members gave a Nazi salute. Lindbergh, while demanding the overthrow of the FDR regime, asked the audience: "Are we going to let Jews run this country?"
However, that remark received relatively little play, especially compared to the national firestorm that erupted after Lindbergh, on Sept. 11, 1941, gave a speech in Des Moines that blamed Jews for dragging the nation toward war:
- It is not difficult to understand why Jewish people desire the overthrow of Nazi Germany. The persecution they suffered in Germany would be sufficient to make bitter enemies of any race.
No person with a sense of the dignity of mankind can condone the persecution of the Jewish race in Germany. But no person of honesty and vision can look on their pro-war policy here today without seeing the dangers involved in such a policy both for us and for them. Instead of agitating for war, the Jewish groups in this country should be opposing it in every possible way for they will be among the first to feel its consequences.
Tolerance is a virtue that depends upon peace and strength. History shows that it cannot survive war and devastations. A few far-sighted Jewish people realize this and stand opposed to intervention. But the majority still do not.
Their greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government.
I am not attacking either the Jewish or the British people. Both races, I admire. But I am saying that the leaders of both the British and the Jewish races, for reasons which are as understandable from their viewpoint as they are inadvisable from ours, for reasons which are not American, wish to involve us in the war.
We cannot blame them for looking out for what they believe to be their own interests, but we also must look out for ours. We cannot allow the natural passions and prejudices of other peoples to lead our country to destruction.
Of course, in retrospect, it is clear that on the basis of Hitler's plans for the Jews alone, America would have been justified in entering in a war against Germany on purely moral grounds. Not that this actually happened; if anything, American officials were in reality congenitally slow on the uptake about what was happening to the Jews in Europe.
In any event, Lindbergh's Des Moines speech created a national uproar, because its rather naked anti-Semitism -- especially the suggestion that American Jews were unpatriotic -- made plain for the first time what the underpinnings of America First were in reality about. Lindbergh had already raised eyebrows by accepting in October 1938 the Service Cross of the German Eagle from Herman Goering for his service in advancing the cause of aviation; Lindbergh had in fact helped advise the Germans on organizing the Luftwaffe. After the Des Moines speech, however, Lindbergh's reputation was so tarnished that even his hometown of Little Falls, Minnesota, removed his name from its water tower.
The connection to the Nazi agenda had indeed been gradually revealing itself for some time. On Jan. 22, 1941, Dr. Joseph Paul Goebbels, Propaganda Minister for the Third Reich, made a short-wave radio broadcast that promoted the group, proclaiming: "The America First Committee is truly American and truly patriotic!"
Other America First spokesmen were likewise nakedly anti-Semitic. The most notorious of these was Father Charles Coughlin, the Protocols-promoting radio ranter with a weekly audience of millions, who continued to insist that Jews were trying to pull Americans into a war against "their own kind." In his magazine Social Justice, he wrote: "Stalin's idea to create world revolution and Hitler's so-called threat to seek world domination are not half as dangerous combined as is the proposal of the current British and American administrations to seize all raw materials in the world. Many people are beginning to wonder who they should fear most -- the Roosevelt-Churchill combination or the Hitler-Mussolini combination."
Another famous aviator -- Laura Ingalls, the first woman to fly solo across the American continent -- was also a noted America First figure. She was also a raving anti-Semite who, it turned out later, was fully in the pay of the Germans. Ingalls received funds from Baron Ulrich von Gienanth, head of the Gestapo in the U.S. (his title was Second Secretary of the German Embassy in Washington). She also worked with Hans Thomson, German Charge' d'Affaires and Fritz Weidemann, the German Consul in San Francisco. In 1942, Ingalls was arrested by the FBI for failing to register as an agent of the Nazis and was sentenced to two years in prison.
While all this was going on at the top, the troops of the America First movement were also becoming increasingly Nazified. Members of the German-American Bund -- which received large amounts of funding from the Nazi regime -- moved quietly into the chapters of the America First Committee. Other proto-fascists likewise swelled the ranks of America First: William Pelley’s Silver Shirts, Coughlin's Christian Front, the KKK, White Russian Fascists. All this infiltration by mid-1941 led the American Legion in California to declare that the entire fifth column in the U.S. had joined the America First movement.
Smaller opposition groups tried to counter their propaganda by drawing public attention to the underlying agenda. The most notable of these was "Friends of Democracy," which produced the "Nazi Transmission Belt" cartoon as well as a pamphlet examining Lindbergh's Nazi ties. It also produced a flier that pointed out:
- 1) A large part of the audiences of many America First meetings are members of pro-Nazi organizations.
2) Nazi propaganda is distributed at many of these meetings.
3) Nazi organizations not only distribute the literature of the America First Committee but recruit members and raise money for the committee.
4) The Nazi press in the United States has stamped the program of America First with its approval.
5) The propaganda ministries of the democracy-hating Nazi and Fascist governments endorse the policies of the committee.
Another group, calling itself the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies (CDAAA), published an article in May 1941 that observed:
- The point is that un-American organizations have made appeals for contributions of money to America First. Un-American element crowd America First rallies. They applaud America First speakers. They boo the President of the United States. They do not boo Hitler or Mussolini or Stalin. . . Some of them belong to the Nazi Bund which is pro-Hitler. . . What Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin and their friends in this country Applaud cannot be good for America.
All this came to a screeching halt on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and America's entry into the war was cemented. America First's officials met on Dec. 8 and announced the organization was disbanding. At least publicly.
In secret, however, the leaders -- who were convinced America would lose the war -- kept the organization going, planning for the day when the Nazis took over. As Russ Bellant reported in Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party: Domestic Fascist Networks and Their Effect on U.S. Cold War Politics:
- After Pearl Harbor and Germany's declaration of war on the United States, the America First Committee didn't go out of business as it officially declared on December 12, 1941. Five days later, a secret meeting of certain key leaders of America First took place in New York to plan for what they assumed (and hoped) would be the Axis victory in Europe and the Far East. "[T]he Committee has in reality gone underground," FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover reported to the White House. It began planning for the day when they would be the Americans with whom the victorious Nazis would negotiate a surrender. Finally, when the defeat of the Nazis by Allied powers was a foregone conclusion, the America First Committee secretly dissolved itself in 1944.
(Bellant's primary source, for those interested, was a Feb. 13, 1942 memo from J. Edgar Hoover to Major General Edwin M. Watson, Secretary to the President, which declared that America First had "gone underground.")
The meeting was held in the home of Edwin Sibley Webster, a wealthy Wall Street broker with Kidder, Peabody, and it featured a number of key American First members, including Lindbergh. The group reformed under a new name, Americans for Peace. One of the attendees, Horace Haase, left no doubt about the future activities of the gathering:
- "It is obviously necessary for the leaders of the America First like Wood and Webster to keep quiet. But the organization should not be destroyed. I have never been in the limelight and have nothing to lose. I can remain active in a quiet way. I should like to offer to keep the files. We must get ready for the next attack which must be made upon this communistic administration."
The America Firsters' fantasies of serving as a future Vichy government in America gradually crumbled, of course, as the tide of the war turned. Americans for Peace quietly disbanded in late 1944.
Another significant American figure in the buildup of the Nazi war machine: Prescott Bush, grandfather of the current president and scion of the Bush family fortune. A fortune that was based, in no small part, on doing business with Hitler's war machine -- and in fact, funnelling large sums of American capital into German manufacturing -- during the 1930s.
In other words, those Hitler sympathizers who were claiming, "He's not such a bad guy," who "just didn't get it" (or rather, perhaps "got it" all too well), were in fact the same right-wing enablers who, in their 21st-century guise, are nowadays finding excuses for an incompetent and mendacious president who dragged his country into a war under false pretenses, claiming: "He's not such a bad guy."
This is not to compare Bush to Hitler, but rather, to point out that the corporatist impulse to support warmakers is deeply entrenched. The faction that made excuses for Hitler out of their own self-interest comprises today the same people who pooh-poohed so-called liberal organizations like Amnesty International when they raised concerns about America's continuing support for Saddam Hussein back in 1989. You know, the folks who now accuse devoted patriots who do not believe in wasting the lives of our soldiers of actually causing them harm. Talk about "just not getting it."
This particular line of attack on antiwar liberals is predicated on the notion that the war in Iraq has become the focal point of the "war on terror" -- when, in fact, nearly everyone with a sense of reality understands that it is in fact a terrible diversion from the real work of combating terrorism. Most of all, it obscures the real nature of those Hitler sympathizers, who were in the end the same corporate enablers of a warmongering leader with whom O'Reilly is clearly aligned, making excuses for the inexcusable.
And perhaps it's worth remembering, as well, that we've heard complaints similar to O'Reilly's current jihad about non-Christians wanting to "do away" with Christmas before. Long before. Why, back in the 1930s, none other than Henry Ford was making nearly identical complaints:
- "And it has become pretty general. Last Christmas most people had a hard time finding Christmas cards that indicated in any way that Christmas commemorated Someone's Birth. Easter they will have the same difficulty in finding Easter cards that contain any suggestion that Easter commemorates a certain event. There will be rabbits and eggs and spring flowers, but a hint of the Resurrection will be hard to find. Now, all this begins with the designers of the cards."
Where was this text located? Why, in The International Jew, of course.
Hate crimes: The big picture
Monday, November 28, 2005
Have you ever noticed how, when libertarians and right-wingers talk about "threats to our freedoms," the only source of those threats is the government?
It's perhaps useful to remember that, over the course of American history, the greatest threats to the liberty of American citizens have come not from the government, but from our fellow citizens. Particularly, those directed by white citizens against nonwhites.
Recall, for instance, that the most egregious example of the removal of citizens' civil rights in America occurred primarily through extralegal means -- namely, during the lynching period, when thousands of blacks were summarily murdered in the most horrible fashion imaginable, often merely for the sin of being successful by white standards (this made them "uppity" and thus marked for extermination).
Lynching was a form of socially sanctioned terrorism against the black community whose entire purpose was to "keep the niggers down." It largely succeeded, until the wellsprings of the civil rights movement began working to tear it down as a broadly accepted American institution.
The legacy of lynching remains with us today, though, in the form of hate crimes -- whose purpose, once again, is to oppress and eliminate targeted minorities. This fact was driven home once again by a new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics examining the real state of hate crimes in America:
- The real number of hate crimes in the United States is more than 15 times higher than FBI statistics reflect, according to a stunning new government report.
Hate crime statistics published by the FBI since 1992, based on voluntary reports from law enforcement agencies around the country, have shown annual totals of about 6,000 to 10,000, depending on the year. But the new report, "Hate Crimes Reported by Victims and Police," found an average annual total of 191,000 hate crimes. That means the real level of hate crime runs between 19 and 31 times higher than the numbers that have been officially reported for almost 15 years.
"It's an astounding report," said Jack Levin, a leading hate crime expert at Northeastern University. "It's not necessarily completely accurate, but I would trust these data before I trusted the voluntary law enforcement reports to the FBI."
... The report, which inferred hate motivation from the words and symbols used by the offender, found that just 44 percent of hate crimes are reported to police. Other hate crimes don't make it into FBI statistics for an array of reasons: police may fail to record some as hate crimes; their departments may not report hate crime statistics to state officials; and those officials may not accurately report to the FBI.
According to the new report, hate crimes involve violence far more often than other crimes. The data showed 84 percent of hate crimes were violent, meaning they involved a sexual attack, robbery, assault or murder. By contrast, just 23 percent of non-hate crimes involved violence. Other studies have suggested that hate-motivated violence, especially against homosexuals, is more extreme than other violence.
The report also showed that 56 percent of hate crime victims identified race as the primary factor in the crimes they reported. Ethnicity accounted for another 29 percent of the total. Hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation were 18 percent of the total. Given that the best studies indicate about 3 percent of the American population is homosexual, this means that gays and lesbians are victimized at six times the overall rate.
It's likely that, in fact, we're seeing an increase in unreported hate crimes because one of the most significant areas of underreportage involves hate crimes against immigrants. As I've observed previously, the ongoing efforts of the rabid right to "crack down" on these immigrants, particularly in the face of significant demographic shifts in the Midwest and West due to Latino immigration, has made it far more likely that this problem will only worsen.
That is only one front on which American conservatives are measurably deepening the problem. The most significant, of course, is the continuing campaign to ensure that Congress cannot even pass a federal hate-crimes law.
And, as I've also noted, conservatives are not alone in these failures. Many mainstream liberals have capitulated to the right-wing, pseudo-libertarian contention that hate-crimes laws create "thought crimes." As I explained then:
- More to the point (and as I also argue at length in Death on the Fourth of July), hate-crimes laws are not about taking away anyone's freedoms -- rather, they are about ensuring freedoms for millions of Americans.
As I point out in the book, hate crimes have the fully intended effect of driving away and deterring the presence of any kind of hated minority -- racial, religious, or sexual. They are essentially acts of terrorism directed at entire communities of people, and they are message crimes: "Keep out."
Rural dwellers' dread of the dark colors of the inner city is something of a cliche, one based nonetheless on reality. What is less observed, however, is the common dread held by many minorities for America's more rural spaces. Black people fear stepping foot in Idaho because of the presence of the Aryan Nations in the state's Panhandle. Gays and lesbians view driving through places like Wyoming and Montana with a palpable anxiety.
If you get out a map of the country and put yourself in the shoes of a person of color or another sexual persuasion, and start looking at the places you would feel safe visiting, you'll suddenly realize that this can be a very small country indeed for people who are not white heterosexuals. This is what Yale hate-crimes expert Donald Green means when he says that hate crimes annually create a "massive dead-weight loss of freedom" for Americans.
That massive dead-weight loss keeps mounting. And our continuing inaction will, someday, be considered a source of national shame.