In setting up “the first ever US National Strategy to Counter Islamophobia,” the Biden administration has again focused on hate crimes against Muslims despite the rise this year in hate crimes against Jews. How accurate is Vice President Kamala Harris’ claim: “Muslims in America and those perceived to be Muslim have endured a disproportionate number of hate fueled attacks”?
Before going through these numbers, we need to make several points. All crime is horrible. Crime harms victims, whatever its motive. The FBI data is subjective in terms of what is counted as a hate crime — so there is the issue of accuracy. We guess that the biases in the FBI correspond to the political biases in the Biden administration. Unfortunately, while the FBI data contains the religion of the victims, it doesn’t report the religion of the perpetrators.
As the figure at the top shows, hate crimes against Jews are 386% more common than crimes against Muslims. Murders involving hate are 260% more common against Jews than Muslims. And the destruction/vandalism that occurs against the Jews is 1,644% higher than against Muslims. Christians face a 50% overall greater number of hate crimes than Muslims, though they face fewer assaults or murders.
A more helpful way of looking at these numbers is to look at the per capita rates, and given that there were about 7.6 million Jews versus 3.8 million Muslims, that will reduce the gap between the two groups. The per capita total hate crime rate for Jews is more than twice the rate faced by Muslims. What stands out is the huge per capita rate of hate crimes against Sikhs. No other group faces a similar rate of total offenses, assaults, or destruction/vandalism. The per capita rates for all religions or Christians are just a tiny fraction of the attacks against other groups.
This last graph shows that even adjusting for the difference in population sizes, Jews face much higher rates than Muslims of total offenses (143% more), murders (80% higher), and destruction/vandalism (772% higher), but a 25% lower assault rate.
The PEW Research Center estimates that there were 3.45 million Muslims in 2017. We assumed the growth rate between 2017 and 2020 was the same as the growth rate from 2011 to 2017 to get the estimated population in 2020. There were an estimated 7.6 million Jews in the US in 2020. There were 70,697 Sikhs, though that might be an overestimate because not all of them might be practicing Sikhs and might not wear the traditional headwear or the beard. And 210 million Christians.