WSJ's Taranto Ignores Real Hate Crimes To Pretend Oppression Doesn't Exist

Wall Street Journal online editorial page editor James Taranto ignored the thousands of hate crimes committed against minorities each year, misleadingly fixating on four allegedly falsified incidents to claim minority oppression “scarcely exists.”  

In a May 2 Journal post, Taranto focused on four incidents in which individuals allegedly falsely claimed they were the victims of hate crimes, and claimed that these “phony” accusations were “common, especially on college campuses.” He concluded:

Oppression of minorities, and certainly of women, scarcely exists in America in the 21st century. Genuine hate crimes happen, but they are very rare. Few societies in history have offered more security to the previously downtrodden. But the presence of security only makes the need for identity and stimulation more pressing. Hate-crime hoaxes are an extreme way of meeting those needs.

Taranto's fixation on a small number of discredited cases hides the reality that hate crime in the United States is not as rare as he claims. According to the FBI's most recent data, law enforcement agencies reported thousands of hate crimes in 2011 alone:

  • In 2011, 1,944 law enforcement agencies reported 6,222 hate crime incidents involving 7,254 offenses.
  • There were 6,216 single-bias incidents that involved 7,240 offenses, 7,697 victims, and 5,724 offenders.
  • The 6 multiple­-bias incidents reported in 2011 involved 14 offenses, 16 victims, and 7 offenders.

These crimes included murder, rape, assault, intimidation, and destruction or theft of property. According to the data, most of the crimes were motivated by racial bias, followed by bias against sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity and national origin, and disability.

However, these numbers likely underestimate the true amount of hate crime in the United States. Business Insider explained that hate crimes are vastly under-reported to the FBI, as the data “is highly dependent on reports from local police, some of whom are better at reporting hate crimes than others.”  

Indeed, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a subdivision of the U.S. Department of Justice, only 35 percent of hate crimes from 2007 to 2011 were reported to the police. Accounting for hate crimes not reported to authorities, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that there were 181,190 violent hate crimes in 2011. An additional 13,200 violent hate crimes were motivated by gender bias, which the FBI does not track. The percentage of violent hate crimes that resulted in an arrest declined from 10 percent in 2003 - 2006 to 4 percent in 2007 - 2011.

Taranto's baseless dismissal of oppression is unsurprising given his history, including claiming that the “legal regime ... is highly indulgent of sexual-harassment allegations” and attacking the Voting Rights Act.