The FBI's most recent annual report of hate crime statistics confirms that the much-hyped "backlash" against American Muslims is a myth, according to the Gatestone Institute.
The most recent FBI report does reveal a 20% increase in hate crimes against Muslims from 2015 to 2016, appearing to confirm suspicions that the presidential election sparked anti-Muslim sentiment (in fact, the report reveals that there were increases in most categories of hate crimes, but none as high as anti-Muslim crimes). But as Gatestone notes, the FBI data tell a more complex story.
Although any instances of so-called hate crimes are unacceptable, the report does not demonstrate evidence for the relentless narrative from the left and their Islamic allies in Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups like CAIR that Muslims in the United States face widespread hatred and discrimination.
First, the FBI stats alone do not show the context of the rise in hate crimes and anti-Muslim incidents. Gatestone has the details:
In 2015 the FBI changed its method of classification. Before then, ethnicity- or nationality-spurred hate crimes were designated as Hispanic or non-Hispanic. The FBI subsequently revised that classification, breaking down hate crimes into a variety of possible categories. As a result, the most recent data is misleading, making the incidents in which Arabs or Muslims were targeted appear to be more numerous than in previous years.
Secondly, the widely cited "20 percent increase" in anti-Muslim hate crimes engenders a false assumption about the actual figures. The total of reported bias incidents of any kind in 2016 was 6,121; of those, 361 were directed at Arabs or Muslims. Although even a single such incident would be one too many, in a country whose population is approximately 325 million – including millions of Arabs and/or Muslims -- it is hard to argue that the numbers are indicative of a "wave" of hatred sweeping over the nation, either prior to or since the rise of Trump, even if one accepts the assumption that hate crimes are under-reported.
Third, and even more important, is that FBI hate crime statistics from the past 15-16 years actually refute the working assumption -- as reflected in the Time magazine piece -- that after 9/11, America underwent a backlash against Islam. Evidence for this claim, both in that article and other that followed its lead, was primarily anecdotal.
Let us look at the actual data. In 2000, the FBI reported 28 instances of anti-Islamic crimes. In 2001 (the year of the 9/11 attacks), the total rose considerably -- to 554 -- but then went to down to 171 in 2002. It stayed at that level for most of the decade, dipping to 105 in 2008. In 2010, a year in which a controversy raged over ultimately aborted plans to build an Islamic center and mosque in place of one of the buildings that had been damaged by falling debris from the World Trade Center attacks, the number rose to 161. In 2014, it was 154.
The claim that the relatively small number of hate crimes can be attributed to under-reporting is implausible, given the cultural climate and plethora of media outlets eager to find evidence for Islamophobia. The lack of concrete evidence to support claims of Islamophobia is due to the fact that after 9/11 -- and every other jihadist terrorist attack in America since then (such as the Boston Marathon bombing and the San Bernardino attack) -- the U.S. government has gone out of its way to discourage anti-Muslim rhetoric and to differentiate the actions of a few fanatics from those of the law-abiding majority.
The myth of a post-9/11 "backlash" against Muslims is politically motivated and spread by groups such as the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which presents itself as a civil rights group, but was founded to serve as a front organization for the terrorist group Hamas. The effort to persuade the public that America is Islamophobic stemmed largely from the aim to shift the narrative about terrorism to that of an Islamist war on the West to one according to which Muslims are terrorized by and in the United States.
The Gatestone piece concludes that "the statistics published by the FBI over the last 17 years refute both the Islamophobia narrative and the claim of a widespread backlash against Muslims in the aftermath of terrorist attacks by Islamists."
The article goes on to point out that anti-Semitism has always been, and still is, a far bigger problem in America than anti-Muslim hatred, but that doesn't make the United States anti-Semitic. Much less, then, can America be called Islamophobic.