Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

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From investigations from World War I to present day investigations, hate crimes have occurred in the United States throughout all of history. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a hate crime is a traditional offense, such as murder, arson, or even vandalism; with a biased element (“Hate Crimes”). Of the 7,175 incidents reported on the FBI website during the year 2017, the top bias motivation was race, ethnicity, and ancestry followed by the bias of religions (“2017 Hate Crime Statistics”).

Social activist, from the 1950s and 1960s, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. justifies the revolts that were taking place in Birmingham as he wrote in his letter to the clergymen, “It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power struggle left the Negro community with no alternative.”

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This racial struggle has led to hate crimes all throughout history. Successively, there have been hate crimes through history due to social stipulations placed around various religious ideals. Edward Kessler writes about the way that antireligious beliefs create a platform for judgement based on their lack of knowledge in his article, “Social Media and the Movement of Ideas.”

Evaluation of these pressures and conflicts has raised the question: What is the best recommendation to make to influential leaders with conflicting ideals in order to prevent racial or religious hate crimes in the United States? Simply stated, what is the best way to decrease the rate of hate crimes in the United States? Analysis of this issue through the historical, social and cultural, and political angles indicates that the rate of these tragedies can decrease with dialogue and communication. This interaction seeks to serve as a buffer and an offer an opportunity to clear up any misconceptions or come to an agreement prior to any conflict.

United States Hate Crime Laws

To a certain extent, the United States government can implement rules and regulations in an attempt to decrease these events from occurring. However, current laws do not quite cover all the fundamental flaws that lead to hate crimes as many still occur in the present day. In addition, many laws that relate to the prevention of hate crimes are dismissed as they are often said to oppose the freedom of speech and the freedom of expression as outlined in the first amendment. In places such as the web page for the American Civil Liberties Union, a national organization that works to defend individual rights, people believe the censorship of hate speeches counters people of the minority.

They say the government should not have the power to decide what opinions are hateful, as, “history has taught us that the government is more apt to use this power to prosecute minorities than to protect them” (“Freedom of Expression”). However, the United States Department of Justice explains the laws in place today about hate crimes aim towards specific types of hate crimes, not opinions or speech that are believed to be hateful. This will help make sure they are prevented from happening in the most effective way.

Most recently, in 2009, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This made it a federal crime to cause bodily injury willfully, as well as expanding the federal definition of a hate crime. In addition, this law took away some of the existing obstacles to the prosecution of race and religion motivated violence (“Hate Crime Laws”).

This is very important as it seeks to do whatever it can to prevent the two leading bias’s from occurring. Interestingly enough, the FBI public records about hate crime incidents show that in 2008, one year prior to this act, there were 3,992 incidents of single- bias hate crimes based on race and 1,519 incidents of single- bias hate crimes based on religion. In total, there were 7,780 incidents of hate crimes (“2008 Hate Crime Statistics”). Only five years later, in 2013, there were only 2,871 incidents of single- bias hate crimes based on race and 1,031 incidents of single- bias hate crimes based on religion.

Overall, there were 5,922 total incidents (“2013 Hate Crime Statistics”). This means that there was a 24% decrease in hate crimes over the course of five years. It is important that there was a decrease from the years 2008 to 2013 however, this did not last. In 2017, the total number of single- bias incidents soared back up to 7,106 (“2017 Hate Crime Statistics”). Even though this is fewer than in 2008, this number is moving in the wrong direction. Therefore, evaluation of these numbers leads to the conclusion that the federal government’s laws and regulations cannot be held accountable and responsible for the decrease of hate crimes. While these laws are beneficial, they are not capable of eliminating hate crimes on their own.

Religious Issues

The religious struggle to achieve or maintain power and influence while still being able to lead the people in a morally right way has caused conflicts. Social stipulations between different religions have caused conflict since the birth of America. It happens that from the “earliest arrival of Europeans on American shores, religion has often been a cudgel, used to discriminate, suppress and even kill the foreign, the ‘heretic’ and the ‘unbeliever’” (Davis).

Religious beliefs have not only fostered new ideas and values, but religion serves as a platform for people to make judgements, which may eventually lead to future hate crimes. For this reason, many American leaders have removed themselves from any preconceived notions or stipulations that come when aligned with a religion. For example, John F Kennedy made a major speech in 1960 that declared his loyalty to America and not to the pope (Davis).

The simple act of communicating his stance or beliefs prevented others from fighting against him for his beliefs. Knowing the danger of aligning himself with one religion, he simply explained his motive. This dialogue can be a root source for prevention of hate crimes. However, it is important to understand the alternate reasons to engage in this interfaith dialogue.

With a lack of knowledge comes the prime opportunity for ignorant and negative stereotypes. Increasing antisemitism, anti-Christian prejudice, and Islamophobia in many communities demonstrates the platform a lack of knowledge creates for such judgement, which leads to a need for the movement of ideas (Kessler). With this deeper understanding, we are able to identify some source of judgement that leads to prejudice against a group of people and possibly even a hate crime. Granted, not all accounts of prejudice will lead to a hate crime; however if the feelings of unrest and disagreement are eliminated, then the source of this problem will be diminished.

There is a close connection between hate crimes and prejudice, as previously introduced; people have the right to share their opinions and beliefs. In fact, McPhail writes for the University of Texas at Austin that there have been several instances of hate crime ordinances struck down because they were believed to take away from freedom of thought and freedom of speech (647). With the inability of laws to eliminate tensions, it comes down to the people. Many times it may involve a third party, one who is impartial, to determine a solution that is acceptable to both conflicting ideals, but as written in the Journal of Peace Research, mediation seeks to resolve conflict through negotiations.

They explore the depths of logic and reasoning by appealing to the common wishes of the two sides to end violence and prevent it from reoccurring (Wallensteen and Svensson, 316). If people engage in negotiations and conversation, then the violence will be prevented completely opposed to preventing a recurrence of violence as suggested. By decreasing religious tensions and becoming involved in conversation, there will be a smaller foundation for hate crimes to build on. Therefore, this evaluation leads to the conclusion that dialogue, while it may include another party, is a helpful and beneficial tool to the prevention of hate crimes based off social stipulations placed on religions.

Despite political violence and terrorism being committed for a complex range and variety of reasons, Dijkhuizen explains in many zones of conflict, religion has been named to be a cause of, an inspiration for, or a worsening factor for violence to occur. With this in mind, interreligious dialogue during heated situations takes courage (229). Often times, the people who engage in conversation do so with the belief that religion can bring peace in the best and the worst times. Even with this belief, there were 1,749 victims of hate crimes due to a religious bias (“Hate Crime Statistics”). This is not to say that dialogue has not worked in the past, but that there are plenty of opportunities for dialogue to help prevent these religious conflicts in the future.

Racial Conflicts

In a similar manner, people of a racial or ethnic community should partake in dialogue before engaging in violent conflicts. For many of the same reasons, conflict between people may have a simple solution that can be reached through communication instead of violence. For example, as previously referenced, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. partook in violent demonstrations in Birmingham; however, he attempted to avoid these conflicts if it was possible.

He writes that after the oppressed black community had been asking for freedom for so long, they were forced to act upon the only alternative option that they were left with. King specifically wrote, “if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts… [we will] seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies- a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.”

It was their hope to prevent this conflict, but these oppressed people were forced to wait for change. In the end, he claims this could have been prevented if the clergymen would have partaken in the conversation that the black community has been asking to happen for such a long time. This situation was driven not only by the refusal for the white people to communicate, but also the ignorance of many of them.

Elder outlines a study of politics during the 1960s which suggests that the southern whites did not know how unhappy or hurt the black people were as they so often ignored the signs around them (152). As people of a whole race are ignored, tensions begin to build up and people become more aggressive.

There are three types of aggression; comprised reactive- expressive aggression, reactive- inexpressive aggression, and proactive- relational aggression. Comprised reactive- expressive aggression is a type of verbal and physical aggression. Reactive- inexpressive aggression is a hostile type of aggression. The final type of aggression, proactive- relational aggression is the type of aggression that can break relationships (Yamasaki and Nishida).

Even though the third of these is the most harmful to the relationships between people of conflicting beliefs or different racial beliefs, it can lead to the more violent forms of aggression, such as hate crimes. Dialogue can prevent aggressive behaviors that lead to hate crimes, as the main goal of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is to teach people with aggressive tendencies to be mindful in order to prevent this aggressive behavior (Danielle).


The current rates of hate crimes of the racial and religious bias in comparison to previous years with consideration of laws implemented suggests a need for change. Even after the government has implemented laws that decrease the number of hate crimes, later in history, they end up increasing once again. Ignorance or the lack of knowledge of the conditions or beliefs serve as a platform for prejudice and stereotypes. These foundations are the root of hate crimes in the United States. While not all circumstances are the same, people with conflicting ideals must converse to find the best solution in their specific conditions. Since current solutions do not serve their function, the best resolution to decrease hate crimes is to partake in dialogue to solve conflicts peacefully.”

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Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). (2021, Oct 15). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/federal-bureau-of-investigation-fbi/