It seems that hate, and the violence it spawns, are everywhere in American society today: its schools, places of worship, political institutions, and the family network.
Some of the nation’s largest cities—New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and even Austin—recorded their highest levels of hate crimes in 2022 since 1992, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University—San Bernardino.
And even these significant metropolitan increases do not accurately reflect an accurate picture of hate crimes in America.
The Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990 (HCSA) imposes a voluntary duty on city, university, and tribal law enforcement agencies to compile hate crime data in their respective jurisdictions.
Not reporting and underreporting has been a significant problem throughout the first three decades of the HCSA’s existence. For example, in December 2022, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reported that in 2020 that 3,500 law enforcement agencies did not report any hate crime data to the FBI. Dozens of police departments in cities with 100,000 or more populations have consistently reported zero hate crimes.
The month before the SPLC report, FBI Director Christopher Wray told a congressional hearing that “some jurisdictions fail to report hate crime statistics, while others claim there are no hate crimes in their community – a fact that would be welcome, if true.”
Wray’s skepticism about the void of hate crimes is more than reasonable. The police departments in two of the cities—Los Angeles and New York—showing marked increases in hate crimes in 2022 were forced to document and report their hate crimes only after President Biden, on May 22, 2021, signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which included the Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer National Opposition to Hate, Assault and Threats (NO HATE) Act as an amendment. The act encourages more accurate hate crimes reporting.
The FBI reports that Jews and Muslims are the primary targets of religion-motivated hate crimes, while African-American and Asian Americans are the primary targets of race/ethnicity-motivated hate crimes.
The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-N.Y.) took notice of the underreporting of hate crimes by the city’s law enforcement. CAIR issued a report last September titled “Feeling the Hate: Bias and Hate Crimes Experienced by Muslim New Yorkers” that documents “the various forms of bias and hate crimes that Muslim New Yorkers have experienced.
CAIR interviewed 295 Muslim New Yorkers across the city’s five boroughs about the nature of bias and hate crimes, underreporting of these crimes by law enforcement, and the suspected reasons for the underreporting in Muslim communities.
Key findings of the CAIR report include:
- 64% of Muslims have experienced a hate, bias incident, or both;
- 66% believed that they were targeted because of their religion;
- Only 4% of those who experienced a hate crime reported it to law enforcement because they either did not trust law enforcement or felt it was not productive to report to law enforcement;
- 34% of bias and hate crimes occurred in educational institutions; and
- 75% of Muslim women have experienced a hate, bias incident, or both.
And why should American Muslims trust law enforcement in this country?
Following 9/11, Muslims became the targets of biased terrorism investigations and manufactured terrorism-related charges.
In November 2022, The Intercept reported that the U.S. government has prosecuted 982 persons for terrorism since 9/11. Just three of those charged defendants were acquitted, while four saw their charges dismissed after the cases against them unraveled. Some of the prosecutions were based on career criminal informants and convicted child sex offenders.
In 2002, under Republican President George Bush’s administration, tens of thousands of males from Arab and Muslim countries were forced to register with and be fingerprinted by the U.S. government. That fascist program remained in place until President Barak Obama suspended it in 2009. The American Civil Liberties Union reported that the program never managed to find a single individual that could be prosecuted on terrorism charges.
Writing in the 2017 Fordham Law Review, University of Miami Law School Professor Caroline Marla Corbin penned an article whose title alone explains Muslims’ distrust of government: “Terrorists Are Always Muslim but Never White: At the Intersection of Critical Race Theory and Propaganda.“
Professor Corbin opened her legal treatise with this resounding observation:
“When you hear the word’ terrorist,’ who do you picture? Chances are, it is not a white person. In the United States, two common though false narratives about terrorists who attack America abound. We see them on television, in the movies, on the news, and, currently, in the Trump administration. The first is that ‘terrorists are always (brown) Muslims.’ The second is that ‘white people are never terrorists.'”
That is precisely why the international news network Al-Jazeera reported on the September 11, 2022, anniversary of 9/11 that Muslims continue to “battle Islamophobia” in the U.S. in the wake of that terror attack.
Zahra N. Jamal, associate director of Rice University Boniuk Institute for the Study and Advancement of Religious Tolerance in Houston, told the Arab-based network that 62 percent of Muslims report feeling religion-based hostility, and 65 percent felt disrespected by others.
She added that “That’s almost three times the percentage among Christians. Internalised Islamophobia is more prevalent among Muslims who have faced anti-Muslim tropes in popular culture, news, social media, political rhetoric, and in policy. This negativity impacts their self- image and mental health.”
Worst yet, the U.S. government, through Justice Department policy exacerbates, even endangers the entire Muslim community by steadily issuing terrorism indictments against members of the Muslim community while giving a “get out of jail free” pass to white insurrectionists like those in the January 6, 2021 mob that stormed the nation’s capitol in a failed attempt to overthrow the government.
For example, as recently as December 15, 2022, the Justice Department announced that, “A criminal complaint was unsealed yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn charging Mohammad David Hashimi, 35, of Potomac Falls, Virginia; Abdullah At Taqi, 23, of East of Elmhurst, Queens, New York; Khalilullash Yousuf, 34, of Ontario, Canada; and Seema Rahman, 25, of Edison, New Jersey, with conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) …”
Whether or not these charged defendants are guilty is not the point. The point is that the Justice Department, under both Democratic and Republican presidents, targets members of the Muslim community for proactive terrorism investigations and indictments while not even seriously investigating, much less indicting violent white nationalists.
Hundreds of state and federal officials, including U.S. Congress members, conspired to provide material and moral support to the 01/06 insurrectionists who tried to overthrow the U.S. government. These officials supported a coup against the United States government with the intent to hang the Vice President and murder the Speaker of the House. But none of these bad actors have been used to gin up the same fear and hate as Muslim defendants.
White supremacists have long posed the most significant domestic threat. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas testified before the Senate that the most significant domestic threat facing the United States came from what he called “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists…Specifically, those who advocate for the superiority of the white race…” That’s political speech for white supremacists. So, while acknowledging that violent hate crime committed by white supremacists far exceeds that of other groups, DOJ policy and law enforcement resources still focus on the Muslim community, wasting precious resources and personnel.
1.5 million people, mostly with Arabic or Muslim names, have been listed on the “no-fly list” or “watch list” without any investigation or due process. “Over last 20 years, the U.S. citizens that we’ve seen targeted for watchlisting are disproportionately Muslim and people of Arab or Middle Eastern and South Asian descent,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the National Security Project at the American Civil Liberties (ACLU). “Sometimes it’s people who dissent or have what are seen as unpopular views. We’ve also seen journalists watchlisted.”
“Even a cursory review of the lists show they are both almost entirely lists of Arabic and Muslim names. Children who were at most 10 years old at the time are on the No-Fly List. A then 7-year-old is on the Selectee list,” said CAIR Trial Attorney Justin Sadowsky.
These official policies and the fear and hate-mongering by elected officials are responsible, in part, for U.S. Muslims being targeted for hate crimes and religious bias. The government treats Muslims as potential terrorists while giving white, primarily evangelical Christians and insurrectionists and militants (some of whom could be rightly called domestic terrorists) minimum law enforcement scrutiny.
Some Congressional lawmakers call the white January 6 insurrectionists “patriots” while the leading Republican candidate for president, Donald J. Trump, says he will pardon all of them if he is reelected in 2024.
DOJ policy targeting Muslims for questioning by FBI and additional screening at airports without any articulable basis has continued under all U.S. Presidents since 9-11.
That is precisely why the fuel of white fear and hatred is directed at the U.S. Muslim community more than two decades after 9/11 because the government has legitimized it.