SPLC's "The Year in Hate" misled about FBI hate crime statistics
Earlier this month the Southern Poverty Law Center - a group indirectly linked to the Mexican government - released a report entitled "The Year in Hate", which continued their attempt to shut down debate about immigration matters. Per the AP:
The law center's report contends there is a link between anti-immigrant activism and the significant rise in hate crimes against Latinos in recent years. According to the latest FBI statistics, 819 people were victimized by anti-Latino hate crimes in 2006, compared with 595 in 2003.
However, on the same day as the SPLC's report was issued, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) offered this press release:
When examined responsibly, the FBI hate crime data show a dramatically different story than the one the SPLC portrays. First, in order to suggest an artificially large increase in the raw number of hate crimes, the SPLC selects 2003 as its base year, one of lowest years on record for hate crimes against Hispanics. If one compares the number of hate crimes between 1995 (the earliest report available on the FBI's website) and 2006 (the most recent statistical year available), one would see that the number of hate crimes has increased only 17 percent... But even this is not the whole story. The SPLC conveniently forgets to index the raw hate crime data with the population, a step always taken by the FBI to more accurately depict an increase or decrease in crime. Thus, when one indexes a 17 percent increase in hate crimes against Hispanics with a 67 percent increase in the Hispanic population between 1995 and 2006, it becomes clear that the rate of hate crimes against Hispanics has in fact dropped dramatically -- by about 40 percent.
Charting the numbers over time - bearing in mind to compare apples with apples - is left as an exercise, but I'm willing to take FAIR's word for it.
Now, here's a partial list of those who've spread the SPLC's misinformation:
* Bill Richardson, in his endorsement of Barack Obama ("I have been troubled by the demonization of immigrants--specifically Hispanics-- by too many in this country. Hate crimes against Hispanics are rising as a direct result...", link)
* Casey Woods of the Miami Herald ("Anti-illegal immigration groups grow in Florida", 3/31, link)
* Bruce Tomaso of the Dallas Morning News offers "Study finds hate groups on the rise, fueled by anti-immigrant sentiments" (link), but provides this commendable note: "A word of caution: The Southern Poverty Law Center has done courageous, important work over the years, but... [t]he center is sometimes accused of inflating the numbers in its studies of hate groups and hate crimes... to justify its own fight against those forces."
* An unknown writer from the publicly-funded VOA News offers "Report Links Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in the US to Rise in Hate Groups" (link)
* ThinkProgress (3/10, link)
* Deborah Bulkeley/Deseret Morning News ("Utah groups listed in racist-hate report", 3/11, link)
* WITN ("Study: 28 Hate Groups In NC, Including Greenville", 3/10, link)
* DiversityInc Magazine ("Hate Groups in America Surging: New Southern Poverty Law Center Report", 3/10, link)
* Bob Lowry/Huntsville Times ("Number of hate groups increases", 3/11, link, admits that their claims were based on "incomplete FBI statistics")
* Jayme West/KTAR ("Report: Hate Groups Growing in Arizona", 3/18, link)
* Scott Michels of ABC News ("Hate Crimes Tied to Immigration Debate?", 3/10, link)
* Mark Bullock/WSFA ("SPLC Report: Immigration Debate Fueling Hate Groups", 3/28, link)
* Sam Wood/Philadelphia Inquirer ("Study says number of U.S. hate groups rose", 3/11, link)
* Unrelated to the current SPLC report, on 12/5/07, Amy Goodman hosted Mark Potok of the SPLC (link). Apparently based on preparation he'd given her, she made the now-familiar claim: "New FBI statistics suggest anti-Latino hate crimes have risen by almost 35% since 2003.". Potok also noted that, "Well, basically, it's an anecdotal report. The FBI statistics, like all hate crimes statistics, are extremely shaky. But the direction that things are going in is obvious."