There was nothing particularly wrong about Sen. Dick Durbin holding a hearing today on anti-Muslim bigotry. It’s just that nobody at the hearing was able to give a particularly compelling reason for it.
Muslim Advocates Executive Director Farhana Khera testified about “a growing menace” of “rising” bigotry against Muslim Americans. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez spoke of the “steady stream of violence” against the Islamic community. The hearing was heavy on anecdotes and light on statistics.
There’s no denying that there have been contemptible attacks against Muslims in this country. But the idea that the number of incidents are “increasing” simply hasn’t been supported by federal hate crime reports. Since the spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes immediately after 9/11, the number of these crimes has actually decreased.
Further, the most recent FBI statistics – which reported that 70 percent of hate crimes are committed against Jews, compared to 9 percent against Muslims – also had some confused about the point of the hearing. “I’m a bit perplexed by the focus,” said Sen. Jon Kyl. “The point is, all bigotry is to be condemned…Selective indignation is not helpful.”
But the fact that the vast majority of hate crimes are committed against Jews seemed to be lost on others at the hearing.“The headwinds of intolerance these [Muslim] communities face today are no different from the bigotry confronted by groups throughout our history — by Catholics, by Jews,” said Perez. “With each new wave of intolerance, our nation has responded – passing new civil rights laws, striking down old laws that sanctioned discrimination, and eventually recognizing the value of diverse communities and embracing those previously shunned.”
Or if all else fails, the nation forgets about it. Perez may believe that discrimination against Jews has been banished by laws and diversity and embracement, but the statistics tell a different story.