Hate Crimes and Inconvenient Truths

By T.B. Lefever:

Every now and then a story comes along that is so vile and disgusting that it invades the collective conscience of our society. Universally abhorrent, it permeates the minds of the most ardent news junkies and the most oblivious alike. Saturating our social media feeds, radio waves, day time TV shows, and cable news– the story seems unavoidable. The latest of such contemptable incidents to monopolize the news cycle in this manner occurred in a Westside Chicago apartment. An eighteen year old special needs victim was bound and tortured physically, mentally, and emotionally for days while the perpetrators gleefully live streamed their actions and reveled in their crime. The white male victim was cut, punched, slapped, kicked, burnt, and forced to drink toilet water by a group of black teenagers. Throughout the incident, the aggressors screamed things such as “F- white people!” and “F- Donald Trump!” If I am just breaking this news to you now then you are probably looking over OpsLens archived stories after having survived your own incident of being locked in a closet for a while. Nonetheless, I challenge you to read this article in its entirety. By the end, the message may surprise you.

Currently, my Facebook news feed is deluged by debates, pontifications, and calls for justice in response to this incident. The talk radio personalities and callers are frantically making invitations for anyone to “try to do that to me!” My television is overrun by talking heads debating whether or not it should be investigated as a hate crime. I can’t understand why society just can’t agree on a definitive answer when I can’t even believe the question needs to be asked. On one side, we had an intense outcry for this heinous act to be declared a hate crime, and subsequently, a groundswell of satisfaction when the Chicago Police Department announced that the desired charges would be levied against each of the four suspects in custody. On the other side, we have CNN’s Don Lemon and Symone Sanders challenging the hate crime designation as if race were merely peripheral in this incident.

It’s not hard to imagine the college classroom reaction to this story. Rushing back are the memories of those heaping doses of indoctrination I received in courses like Race Relations, Minority Groups in America, and every other sociological theory or revisionist history block I took at my own Alma Mater. I’m envisioning the professors of today teaching their students that a minority cannot commit a hate crime against a member of the white “majority” in the same way that they cannot be racist against them because they do not have the power within society to exercise racism in a way as to oppress them … or something. Thankfully, I’m years removed from the grind of having to deftly walk on eggshells while authoring my college papers to both achieve a decent grade and at the same time maintain some dignity by using my own brain and forming my own opinions. Nevertheless, what was true then is true now. Racism exists in people of all races.

In response to this incident, I decided to pull the FBI Crime Statistics on Hate Crimes for 2015. I was surprised, but before I touch on some of the things that surprised me, let me first talk about some of the pre-conceived notions I had going into this research. I’ve never put the hate crime statute on anyone as its implementation was struck down by the Georgia State Supreme Court in 2004. As it stands, no such laws exist here. Admittedly, serving as an officer in one of five states without a hate crime statute made me insufficiently knowledgeable on the issue. Therefore, I, like many, was in a position where the only hate crimes I had ever heard of involved the victimization of black, gay, or Muslim citizens. Of course, this information was relayed to me by the media like any other person.

Looking back at my time with the Atlanta Police Department, I can remember only one such crime that made national headlines. A gay man was beaten into the ground at the hands of five hooligans shouting gay slurs at the infamous “Pink Store” on McDaniel Street. The attackers even used a tire lying on the side of the road to pummel the victim. Of course, the band of idiots filmed their crime and posted it to social media where it went viral and was picked up by the local news, CNN, and every other major media outlet nationwide in no time. Not long after, the FBI federally prosecuted the incident as a hate crime.

This media response is in great contrast to the incident last month in Chicago, where a white man was beaten and dragged by a vehicle while the attackers accused him of voting for Trump. It appeared as if the media went into full “fake news” spin mode and actually blamed Donald Trump for the violent beating the victim received. There was no media coverage of an outcry for this to be investigated as a hate crime, and the seeds of outrage bloomed when no hate crime designation was made by the police. Several weeks passed and the viral nature of posting such a heinous act on social media has put the frustration and rage of mostly white Americans on full display as memes and media clips have taken over the internet. There are so many things wrong with the fact that people are feeling this way that I don’t know where to begin, but the main takeaway for me is that the media simply won’t report the facts. So here they are.

In 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation complied crime stats from 14,997 police agencies nationwide. Of those, 1,742 agencies reported 5,850 hate crime incidents. The findings surprised me. While I had never heard of a hate crime against a white person reported by either the mass media or on social media, incidents stemming from anti-white bias weighed in at 18.2%. That means that almost one in five of every racially motivated hate crimes is reported as being against a white person. This number is double the reported number of hate crimes classified as anti-Hispanic at 9.4%. The percentage of anti-black hate crimes took the majority with 52.7%. If we delve into hate crimes involving religious bias, anti-Jewish hate crimes come in at 51.3% while 22.2% were designated anti-Muslim and 4.4% were categorized as anti-Catholic. Finally, looking into those involving sexual orientation, 62.2% were declared anti-gay, 19.3% were a combination of anti-transgender/bisexual orientations, and 13.8% were deemed anti-lesbian.

What do these numbers tell you? They tell me that if the media would just report on the facts, there would be a lot less anger out there. They tell me that not only do sex and violence sell, but so do anger and division. College campuses tell us that white people cannot be victims of hate crimes or racism but the FBI tells us differently with actual statistics of the events, and the mass media flat out ignores the truth. White Americans seem to be getting the justice they seek and deserve in regards to the proper designation of hate crimes by the actual statistics, yet many are susceptible to feeling like there is an anti-white conspiracy rampant at the highest levels of the justice system because the media and learning institutions control the dissemination of the information. Why does the media not report on the one in five hate crime incidences of white victimization being ruled appropriately to suppress this perceived injustice? Again, anger and division sell. Who wants to see Tucker Carlson and Al Sharpton agree?

Why are we in a position where the only thing we can agree on is that we are all angry at each other anyway? Whether or not the FBI’s findings are to be trusted when they are based on the reporting practices of local police agencies is another article for another day, but these findings indicate to me that there is a narrative being driven by the media and institutions of “higher learning” that maximizes the perceived level of racism among whites and minimizes the perceived level of racism among the other smaller minority groups. This distortion is harmful to both races. If we are to accept these statistics, we can admit as a society that our black population faces the highest numbers of hate crimes while we can also admit that black communities can correspondingly be capable of the same revolting behaviors against whites. Would statistics and facts allow both sides to take some responsibility for the dysfunction? Can’t we all have something to work on?

The same rules apply when we break down the numbers by religion. There are clearly significant numbers of Muslims being victimized by violent acts of racism, but we can’t brand every non-PC approved opinion and belief about the group as Islamophobia while ignoring our Jewish population, which has a victimization rate that is much higher.

One great thing about being a cop is the unifying effect it has on people of all different backgrounds and beliefs. When you’re getting shot at or beaten, you don’t care if the person coming to help you has a different skin tone or prays to a different god. You can be black, white, or brown. You’re still blue. If we are to come together as a society, all races, religions, and sexual orientations will need to consider some inconvenient truths about ourselves and the sources we gather our information from.

T.B. Lefever is an OpsLens Contributor and active police officer in the Metro-Atlanta area. Throughout his career, Lefever has served as a SWAT Hostage Negotiator, a member of the Crime Suppression Unit, a School Resource Officer, and a Uniformed Patrol Officer. He has a BA in Criminal Justice and Sociology from Rutgers University.

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