It’s long past time for social science research into what percentage of nationally reported hate incidents can be confirmed as hate crimes. A first step is creating a taxonomy of hate incidents, which I began in an earlier post.
One odd category that needs to added are hate hoaxes that are not carried out by human beings.
Kansas State U. was recently home to a hate hoax where a black wrote anti-black graffiti on his own car in washable paint.
But earlier in the semester, there were reports of anti-Semitic vandalism. From US News & World Report:
Oct. 9, 2017, at 8:10 a.m.
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating the vandalism of a temporary dwelling erected outside a Kansas State University residential complex for the Jewish harvest festival Sukkot.
The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the sukkah was found late Friday wrapped around the car of graduate student Glen Buickerood, damaging the vehicle. Buickerood, who doesn’t identify as Jewish, had collaborated with the Jewish student group Hillel to put up the sukkah to promote diversity. …
Hillel adviser Greg Newmark says what happened was “certainly anti-Semitic in effect.” …
This story was popular in the Jewish press, but didn’t get a lot of national coverage. If I was putting together a database of “nationally-publicized” hate incidents to study the percentage that are hoaxes, I’d probably rank this one as not quite reaching the standard of “nationally publicized.”
But it’s worth recounting because it’s indicative of how the Hunger for Hate can turn even Acts of God into purported hate crimes.
Amusingly, a few days later from 13WIBW in Topeka:
By AJ Dome | Posted: Fri 8:09 AM, Oct 13, 2017
MANHATTAN, Kan (WIBW)- Authorities at K-State have determined that a possible hate crime directed toward a Jewish holiday structure was actually caused by thunderstorms. …
They say they contacted eyewitnesses who saw the Sukkah tumbling in the wind during a thunderstorm that night, with no people around it. …
At the time, the damage was considered to be vandalism and an anti-Semitic hate crime. It led to the president of the university, Richard Myers, to issue a statement saying in part, “there is no place in our community for hateful, criminal reactions to religious expression.”
Similarly, there was a lot of coverage since Trump’s election of supposedly anti-Semitic vandalism at Jewish cemeteries. But some of it turned out just to be due to regular subsidence and gravity. The New York Daily News reported:
BY EDGAR SANDOVAL, LAURA DIMON, REUVEN BLAU
Sunday, March 5, 2017, 3:01 PM
Police and the general manager of a Jewish cemetery in Brooklyn said that 42 fallen headstones were not caused by vandals, saying Sunday that the memorials had naturally tipped over due to age — though some elected officials were calling for an investigation, anyway.
“It definitely was not vandalism,” Marisa Tarantino, general manager of the Washington Cemetery on Bay Parkway in Midwood, told reporters. …
But later Sunday, a trio of officials stood outside the 100-acre property, demanding an investigation.
“Nobody wants to jump to conclusions,” said state Assemblyman Dov Hikind. “In light of everything going on in the country, we wanted to see what this was all about.
A related category are incidents that happen all the time but nobody pays attention until somebody claims there is a wave of hate crimes going on. For instance, I wouldn’t be surprised if bored youths commit vandalism in some cemetery somewhere in the U.S. on average once per night or more. After Trump’s election, news hounds and politicians were all over stories of vandalism in Jewish cemeteries.
Some of the stories turned out to be as amusing as the one above. But others might have been real vandalism, but that doesn’t mean they were motivated by anti-Semitism. There was probably more vandalism at Catholic cemeteries than at Jewish cemeteries, but nobody was looking for evidence of the Trump-caused wave of anti-Catholicism.
Similarly, back in the 1990s, President Bill Clinton promoted a a scare story that there was a national wave of burnings of black churches by shadowy white racists. But, it turned out that about ten churches a week of all types catch fire. America has a lot of churches. So there was no shortage of black churches catching fire for Bill Clinton to exploit to stoke racial hatred.