Posted on May 18, 2020

The Often Distorted Reality of Hate Crime in America

Gerard Baker, Wall Street Journal, May 18, 2020

You will have heard by now of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old black man shot dead on a street in Brunswick, Ga., in February. {snip}

You probably haven’t heard of Paul and Lidia Marino. The couple, 86 and 85 years old, were shot dead a week ago while visiting a veterans’ cemetery in Bear, Del., where their son, who died in 2017, is buried. The authorities have so far been unable to establish a motive for the killing, but they identified a suspect, Sheldon Francis, a 29-year-old black man, later found dead after an exchange of fire with the police.

As far as I can tell, from news databases and online searches, other than local newspapers and TV, and a brief story by the New York Post, the death of the Marinos, who were white, has gone as unremarked as their lives. Mr. Arbery’s death, by contrast, has become one of those crimes that some who control our public discourse have decided is a “teachable moment.”

Millions of words have been devoted to exploring and explaining the moral of the killing. It has been widely described as a “lynching.” We have been reminded once again of the prevalence of unequal and violent treatment of minorities. We’ve been told once again that the killing reflects the daily reality of life in America for young blacks. This teaching moment has turned into a continuous, ubiquitous lecture series on the unalterably racist nature of America.


Some will say that’s as it should be. Mr. Arbery’s killing is simply more representative of the nature of race relations in America.

But from the simple perspective of hate crimes, this isn’t right. According to the latest official data from the Justice Department, there were indeed more than twice as many antiblack hate crimes as there were antiwhite hate crimes in 2018. But if you adjust the figures for the relative size of each group in the total U.S. population, they show that blacks are 50% overrepresented among perpetrators of hate crimes, while whites are about 25% underrepresented.


{snip} Almost every instance of white violence against minorities is held up now as a bleak model of the state of the nation, while almost every instance of black violence against whites is ignored.


Here’s an experiment. If you Google “blacks shot by whites” you get a predictable list of results heavily populated with articles about police violence. Google “whites shot by blacks” and, curiously, you get essentially the same set of results. {snip}

No fair person disputes the proposition that racism remains a continuing reality and blight on American life. But the systematic misrepresentation of the facts, the highly selective choice of stories, the one-sided nature of the reporting and the routine exclusion of countervailing evidence only risk making it worse.