The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

FAIR Claims Demonizing Rhetoric Unrelated to Anti-Latino Violence

By Mark Potok on December 5, 2008 - 3:49 pm, Posted in Anti-Immigrant

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the most important anti-immigration group in America, recently issued an angry press release denouncing those who suggest that demonizing nativist rhetoric leads to hate violence. FAIR said that this “outrageous behavior” was part of “a calculated strategy” aimed at “silenc[ing] legitimate immigration policy debate” and added that those who suggest such a link between rhetoric and hate crime “provide no proof whatsoever.” FAIR and its leader, Dan Stein, were particularly incensed that Latino rights organizations had “cynically” suggested that the recent murder of Marcelo Lucero on Long Island, N.Y., by white teenagers who had gone hunting for “Mexicans,” was related to the demonization of Latino immigrants that had been particularly heavy there.

FAIR accused the National Council of La Raza, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and unnamed other organizations of “manipulat[ing] the data” on hate crimes. But the fact is that it is FAIR that dishonestly manipulated data as part of a bid to minimize anti-Latino hate violence.

FAIR says that anti-Hispanic hate crime incidents went up by just 3.3% between 2006 and 2007, and it is right. But it completely ignores the fact — which is what La Raza, MALDEF and the Southern Poverty Law Center (publisher of this blog) have been pointing out — that that figure is only the latest rise of many. In fact, the very same FBI hate crime statistics cited by FAIR to make its case show that anti-Latino hate crimes have risen a total of 40% between 2003 and 2007 (see chart below). While the FBI statistics are not conclusive, they indicate a trend that parallels the rise in anti-immigration groups and their often-vicious anti-Latino rhetoric. As Jack Levin, the Brudnick professor of sociology and criminology at Northeastern University and a national expert on hate crime, told Hatewatch: “It’s not just the most recent numbers. It’s the trend over a number of years that lends credibility to the notion that we’re seeing a very real and possibly dramatic rise in anti-Latino hate incidents.”

Anti-Hispanic Hate Crimes

FAIR also suggests, based on the number of incidents reported by the FBI, that the prevalence of anti-Latino hate crimes is very low — 1.3 attacks per 100,000 Latinos. It ignores the important, 2005 Justice Department study (pdf) that concluded that the real level of hate-motivated attacks on Latinos (this at a time before the anti-immigration movement and its rhetoric had really exploded) was vastly higher — 90 per 100,000 Latinos. The study, considered by criminologists to be far more accurate that the annual hate crime statistics, found that huge numbers of hate crimes are not reported to police or don’t find their way into the FBI’s statistics for various other reasons. The underreporting problem is even more severe among undocumented immigrants, who rarely report crimes to police because they are afraid they will be deported.

FAIR takes the remarkable position that hate speech directed against Latinos — allegations that they are secretly planning to hand the American Southwest over to Mexico, that they are far more criminal than others, that they are bringing dread diseases to the United States, and so on — has no relationship at all to hate crime. In addition to defying common sense, that head-in-the-sand approach completely ignores the statements that are typically made by hate criminals during their crimes. In the Long Island case, for instance, prosecutors said the suspects told police that they were “specifically targeting Hispanic males.” “Let’s go find some Mexicans to [expletive deleted] up,” they said, according to Newsday. They told detectives they were going “beaner-jumping” and they used racial epithets during their attack. The facts are similar in most such cases. “Racist rhetoric and dehumanizing images inspire violence perpetrated against innocent human beings,” Levin concluded.

Hate criminals’ sentiments come from somewhere. Just because it’s not possible to pinpoint the exact source of the Long Island attackers’ racial anger — rhetoric from their parents, nativist groups in the area, politicians, pundits or even FAIR itself — does not mean it magically popped into the assailants’ minds. But FAIR uses the fact that we don’t know precisely where their anger started to claim that the angry and demonizing rhetoric FAIR and others promote is unrelated to criminal violence.

Finally, FAIR keys in hard on the idea that those who criticize the authors of demonizing propaganda are attempting to suppress free speech. But the fact that hateful things can be said and enjoy First Amendment protection does not mean that hateful rhetoric doesn’t promote violence and it does not absolve groups like FAIR from moral responsibility for such rhetoric. In reality, as the Chicago-based human rights group Center for New Community (CNC) points out, FAIR has been active in the Long Island county where Lucero was murdered for some 10 years now. In 2001, not long after FAIR began work in the area, two young men tried to beat two immigrant laborers to death with hammers; in a later case, a Mexican family escaped with their lives after their home was firebombed in a hate attack. Perhaps, given its history, it’s no surprise that FAIR, started by Michigan nativist John Tanton in 1979, is working so hard to convince us that demonizing rhetoric — including its own — has no relationship to criminal violence.

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  • J. Christopher King

    Nice job Vernon, couldn’t agree with you more.
    J. Chris King

  • Nietzschean

    If you can’t articulate your ideas any better than
    that, than get a dictionary.”

    You’re quite the walking, talking OED yourself!

  • Nietzschean

    I’ve lived around hispanics my entire life and to be honest, to my eyes they are much less sinned against than sinning themselves, to borrow a line from some dead white guy.

  • James Hallman

    If you can’t articulate your ideas any better than
    that, than get a dictionary.

  • James Hallman

    It’s that pacifistic attitude that’s leading our nation and people to ruin. It’s really based on self-centerness when
    someone could care less about the future of their people
    and all they can worry about is getting themselves into
    some afterlife that has nothing to do with reality. The
    true afterlife is the world we leave our children and their
    children. Prayer isn’t going to change the world we live
    in. It may change your perception of the world like some
    drug, but it’s not going to give you that perspective based
    on what has to be done as oppose to how you wish the
    world to be. It’s your democratic/ christian worldview that’s
    killing the only world we have worth living in. right now, one
    that’s slowing going down the tubes with this pacifist BS
    that your spouting.

  • jerilyn kay [jeri] miller

    we have, are, and probably always will discuss, write, draw opinions of persons that do not look, feel and think like ourselves. PLEASE, people,,, we are human beings, children of GOD!!! this is our sameness and all other individual looks, feelings, and thoughts are to be embraced. i feel such pity for those persons who have nothing in their lives but wasted hours, actions and thoughts. i will keep praying and thinking and writing and whatever else i can do to help such hateful persons accept reality. REALITY……please read again from top, thanx, j msbusybody HAPPY HOLIDAYS, ALL OF YOU!!!

  • Rob Taylor

    Because you’ve condensed several Birtcher-esque cranckeries into one vile comment designed to give the blog owners cover from my original contention that they link to and approve of leftist anti-Black and anti-Jewish bigotry.

    Your acting is bad, to sum it up. You sound like a lefty imitating what you think righies sound like.

  • James Hallman

    Rob Taylor:

    Exactly what was it that I stated that was nonsense
    in your opinion. I simply stated the truth and how you
    come to surmise that I’m a lefty is what is nonsense.

  • ccollins

    A lot of carnage on this web site——

    Crime victims of illegal immigrants:


  • ccollins

    Over 12 million illegal immigrants here and only a couple of hate crimes?

    Doesn’t sound like an epidemic to me.

    As far as anti-illegal immigrant “rhetoric”, people need to express their concerns and share their thoughts on the issue or they will be driven to violence out of frustration. By the way, don’t we have immigration LAWS?

  • Rob Taylor

    James Hallman:

    A Moby is a lefty pretending to be a righty who goes around making hateful bigoted remarks to make the right look bad. Especially in comment threads where someone is challanging Liberal mythology about White liberals not being racists. You’re a moby. Why not allow this debate to go on unsullied by nonsense like yours?

    Geno: The “Greenlighting” of any Blacks in any city where Mexican Mafia affiliated gangs or MS-13 is active is ongoing. When did you hear it was called off? And sorry, I have family in Essex county next to Newark (East Orange) and in L.A. so I care if they are targets of racist attacks. Which they are.

    And way to read my statements. I said one group of Whites (people on the right) is not more likely to be racist than another (leftists) and I have articles to prove it. I then point out that while calling FAIR racist (and fair has Black members, Latino members etc) this blog has never called FDL or DailyKos racist. What about you Geno, you stating that Kos and FDL aren’t racist?

    And BumbleBee if you consider DailyKos “crazies” why legitimize them by blogr olling them.

  • BumbleBee

    never been Dailykos
    in my life.
    I try to avoid the crazies on the internet.

  • James Hallman

    Rob Taylor':
    I have absolutely no idea what you just stated, and
    I have the feeling, neither do you.

  • Rob Taylor


    I don’t believe you and you’ve NEVER bought them up because you’re too busy shilling.

    If you are Black how can you blogroll DailyKos after they banned Francis Holland AFTER allowing their members to hurl racial slurs at him?

  • Rob Taylor

    James Hallarin:

    Leave the conversation to the adults Moby. A lame attempt to distract from the back and forth with an imitation of what racist Whites on the left think racist Whites on the right sound like is boring, unconvincing and sooo 2004

  • vernon

    I am saddened, though not shocked, that the SPLC would allow hate speech to be posted to its story denouncing hate crimes. It is bad enough that it misuses certain data, and totally fabricates other figures to make its point that hate crimes against Hispanics is on the rise. If the SPLC had taken into account the rise in the Hispanic population, mostly driven by illegal immigration, it would recognize that FAIR was correct in pointing out that violence against Hispanics in the U.S. has dropped significantly.

    A “hate crime” is a spurious category in any reckoning of crime statistics. In Maryland last week three illegal aliens set an 83 year old woman on fire while she was still alive. That the perpetrators of this heinous crime were Hispanics is of no real relevance to their hateful and unconscionable actions. But is important to note that the FBI does not (nor does any other agency for that matter) record “hate crimes” committed by Hispanics. The illegals who tortured and murdered an elderly woman had been arrested on assault and weapons charges previously and released without being referred to ICE, because Montgomery County, caving into pressures from Hispanic groups, and genuine hate groups like the SPLC, routinely releases criminal aliens back onto the streets to perpetrate further acts of violence against American citizens.

    What FAIR, and other groups like it, are trying to argue, is that we (Americans) must demand that out law enforcement agencies arrest and deport criminal aliens, not matter where they come from, the language they speak, or the color of their skin. The law demands it and the American people overwhelming demand it. For the SPLC to portray FAIR as a hate group because they represent the will of the American people is beyond irresponsible. For them to then allow anti-Semites and racists to vent on their site is reprehensible –but it is in-line with the SPLC’s long and sad demise into a barely relevant and totally reckless organization.

    Anyone who is or has even been truly committed to civil rights can not help but find the SPLC in violation of every concept of freedom, equality, and justice.

  • BumbleBee

    THank you GENO.
    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • GENO

    “I`ll put cash money on you being White. Lets see a picture.”

    How retarded is this notion? Anyone? To actually believe that anyone who post a comment on here must be “White”. That’s gotta be the dumbest assumption on this forum as of late.
    Yeah buddy, I guess we`re all “White” on here huh, and we`re very being critical of one another, just like the constant endless infighting between each White Supremacist functions….

    “If you weren’t White, you wouldn’t be so quick to label another gtoup of Whites as the main purveyors of racism.”

    But unfortunately for you(and sorry to break it to you as well) I’m not “White” as much as you would love to believe. And yes, sadly for you, “Whites” are indeed the “purveyors of racism”. Thus, you may be in an extreme state of denial, but you’re regarded so, by pretty much every known minority group and Jews in this Nation. Have you forgotten the history on racism? Or could it be that you possess no memory on how racsim came into pass since the birth of the KKK? Whites are the purveyors of racism and the only kind of people not so “quick enough to label another group of Whites” as such are obviously the same kind of people running in the WN movement.

    “And maybe you`ll have the courage to stand up for something rather be a shrill.”

    Actually I already have. Not just one time either. And certainly it won’t be my last. I stood up for things that I firmly believed in. Do you care to listen? I can name a few unrelated causes for you. Now, allow me to ask you the same question:
    What have you stood up for besides the ideologies of White Nationalism and its movement?

    “If you aren’t White. You sure seem to like them better than the Black folk getting massacred in L.A. and Newark since you seem to be carrying their water.”

    I assume this vitroilic nonsense is directed at someone else. But in contrast to your argument, what makes you so concerned about “Black folk” in “L.A.” or “Newark”? And “masacred”? “Massacred” by whom?
    If you’re referring to the violent campaign by Latino gangbangers in L.A. that occured like well over 2 years ago, then what’s your point of bringing up something that’s totally irrelevant? Yeah the SPLC did an article about them, so what? Dude, that’s like old news, outdated which is why the LEO`s on every level did a nationwide crackdown on foreign-born gangbangers, netting thousands and it still continues to this day. And the gangster violence on “Black folk” which you seemed to be so concerned with, went down significantly for the fiscal year than it did in the previous years since the what?–the “massacre”? What on earth is “massacre”?
    Is this purported “massacre” any different from the “massacres” on Black folk in history by the KKK during its height of imperialism?

    As far as the “White” people I’m associated with that you seem to be worried about is probably no concern of yours. I network with a lot of White people and non-Whites alike. Both male and female. So if you took some form of Socialogy class as you stated above, then surely you would already know that human beings are social creatures by nature, regardless of what race you are. And no I don’t “carry their water”. They are around us all the time. They are my boss, my co-workers, my bishop, and neighbors. I simply co-exist with them and they are my friends(excluding all WNs). And we share the same concerns for our country as Americans.

  • BumbleBee

    Robbie for the record….
    I’m a black male.
    And I didn’t bring them up because I try to stay within the context of the story.

  • James Hallman

    SO-called “Hate Crimes” are just another method of
    cultural marxist and Jews to contain white resistance
    to the obvious demographic genocide being committed
    by proponents of open-borders, and multiculturalist
    that are attemping to destroy white influence in society.
    White on black crime is a ‘hate’ crime, black on white
    crime makes a white individual just another crime
    statistic. It’s almost as if it’s exspected of blacks to
    victimize whites, but for whites to victimize blacks is
    almost treated as if it were political in nature, probably
    because it’s ,if not right, at least understandable, given
    the tremedous amount of crime commited by blacks in
    this country.

  • Rob Taylor

    I’ll put cash money on you being White. Let’s see a picture.

    But if you want evidence the first thing to tip me off would be you including organizations that include Blacks as racist. Not admitting that Latino on Black violence far surpasses hate crimes against Latinos and the fact that you include very few, if technically any (take that Pam Spaulding), Black folk in you’re blog roll.

    I could also get all pop psychology and point out the eye you use at the header and put forward that it’s likely you picked that eye because it closely represents you’re self-image, or I could get deeper and point out that you’re obsession with pointing out “racists” is what’s called a tell. I could even use a little of that hoaky sociology popular in Grad school (truly my Wesleyan Master’s was the worst money I ever spent) and analyze your writing for race/class/gender patterning but that’s pretty much nonsense.

    The truth is I’ve never come across any lefty monitor of “hate” who wasn’t White, male, well past the age when such things should be all-consuming and haven’t made racist statements themselves. Rev. Jim Sutter comes to mind if you want an obvious example.

    But back to the real question. Will you criticize FDL, the antisemitism of DailyKos and the racist pogrom against Blacks by Latino gangs or are you willing to admit those things simply don’t matter to you?

    For that matter wasn’t it Wonkette that made Asian ping pong jokes about Michelle Malkin? Those are White folk spreading hate about minorities, have you listed them as hateful? No? Imagine that.

    If you aren’t White you sure do seem to like them better than the Black folk getting massacred in LA and Newark since you’re carrying their water. You sure don’t seem to care about the fact that illegals are used as sex slaves in brothels that advertise in the back of you’re progressive weekly papers. I would think making money of Latin American, Eastern European and Asian women being held in what is essentially a rape room where rich White folk pay to abuse them is hateful, yet you don’t mention that on your site.

    The laughter of White Liberals to Micheal Steele being black faced seems hateful, the comments to Rachel Alfonzo from White liberals seem hateful, the talk about Joe Leiberman being more loyal to Israel than America seems hateful. Where’s your posts on that?

    If you weren’t White, you wouldn’t be so quick to label one group of Whites as the main purveyors of racism. And maybe you’d have the courage to actually stand up for something rather than be a shill.

  • BumblBee

    What exactly makes you think I’m white?
    At no point did I mention my race.

  • Rob Taylor

    If the people hired by MySpace or Facebook to work there put it up then yes. I figured you’d find some way to defend your White brethren, but you can’t seriously compare random users of MySpace to the people who actually blog on FDL or bloggers on Pandagon.

    I was apologised to by a Pandagon member and a post she wrote that named me, and made racist references and implied I was gay for criticizing how little western feminists seem to care about the plight of Iranian feminists (who at the time were begging Western feminists to speak out) then that post eventually disappeared. An admission it was completley inappropriate.

    If it was a right leaning site that did that you’d have listed them as hateful. Because it’s a White liberal you list them as allies. The woman who founded FireDogLake ran a photo of someone Black faced in an article on HuffPo and claimed she didn’t know it was wrong. Amanda Marcotte has been widely criticized for her racist book cover. David Duke and his followers played a big part in supporting Cindy Shehan due to her wild anti-Semitc conspiracy theories, you mention none of this.

    Why? Because you’re not watching “hate” you’re demonizing people you don’t agree with (and like petulant children decide you don’t like because of that) and covering for people you agree with. You can look at their own sites and see their racism, and frankly you can look at FAIR and see Black and Latino members.

    But now answer my question. When will you be taking on Latino on Black race driven violence. I have blogged about it extensively over the past two years and have never once seen a left leaning site even admit that Blacks are targeted. Are you courageous enough to admit Latino gangs are racist?

  • BumbleBee

    Think about it this way Rob
    IF racist pictures pop up on Myspace or Facebook is it fair to blame the sites or the users?

    The answer is the users.

  • Rob Taylor

    Nothing about Latino on Black hate crimes though. Interesting. But that aside several of your blogrolled allies (like TRex from Firedoglake, who also ran blackface photos of various people) have made anti-Black statements about me and my website and DailyKos has posted Stormfront related material on it’s blog several times over the past few years in anti-Zionist threads. What gives?

    I think you’re missing a lot of hate. Will you run something about them?

  • GENO

    The irony about Dan Stein is that he happens to be a Jew. So what’s my catch? Well, for one, we always keep hearing the naggin cries of White Supremacists who are always complaining about how the Jews like to censor their Freedom of Speech as if its a one-sided problem affecting them.
    That’s not always the case. I have tried myself on several occassions this year alone to post rationale comments on Dan Stein`s blog. And my result? It was either deleted or never posted, no matter how civil and meaningful it is. Your anti-racists comments denouncing White Supremacist rhetoric and questioning Dan Stein`s findings will never be posted on his blog. Because he happens to be a Jew who censors everyone`s Freedom of Speech regardless if you’re White or not.
    Which is why his blog is so boring to read because its a one-sided, singled issue blogspot, where debates, reasoning, and various opinions are almost non-existent. Unlike SPLC, I see equal comments both left and right(and middlemen/independents like myself), something that Dan Stein can’t seem to live with is take criticisms nor can he handle them very well.

    As far as the Hatecrimes report goes for 2007, looks grim. I figure the report for 2008 fiscal year might see a slight increase of Hatecrimes on Latino/Hispanic populace. Whereas, at that same time we will be seeing an increase of White males being arrested and jailed, where their numbers of White crimes will surge, possibliy reaching a tie with Black crimes or maybe surpassing them entirely.

  • Jonathan

    I wonder if the same standards apply to demonization of White people?

    There’s the concept of “White Privilege”. The message here is that White people are handed things on silver platters and “minorities” are locked out and thus getting screwed. Maybe this leads to acts of violence against Whites by “victimized” minorities?

    So does the SPLC condemn the use of the term “White Privilege” too?

  • J. Christopher King

    Mr. Talbot,
    Can you provide us with evidence that supports your allegation that Fair is anti-immigration? Our studies indicate they are simply opposed to “illegal” immigration.
    Secondly, have your observations turned up any minority hate groups, or more specifically, hispanic hate groups?
    Thank you,
    J. Christopher King

  • Carter

    This is an odd “backlash” here. Several months back it was noted that a large level of Hispanic street gangs were targeting blacks: horrible violence & terror ensued – along with totally uninvolved Black 3rd parties.
    If anyone is to address racism, there MUST be an even handed approach. That being said we need to open-mindfully examine similar “hate-crimes” against whites or anyone atrheted.
    An even playing field takes the “wind out o the sails” of those with racist rhetoric. The serious problems are the political repercussions of standing up to very vocal & powerful groups controlling voting blocks (like “La Raza”).
    In order to bring cases to trial, to command radio time, interviews power, etc; there needs to be awareness of those who work toward political ends for their own purposes.

    This type of communication is honest & true – it’s only a question of when people will wake up to the political complications on many sides of this dynamic. There are enough people who have positive motives to make this a reality:.To overcome the complications takes selflessness & bravery on the part of those people who make political capital on the complications of this issue. Let’s see who the real heroes are. “PC” bi-lines won’t cut it. Straight talk is the answer.

    Unless someone really believes that their exists a “Jewish conspiracy” of Zionist controlling all of the American people, Blacks being subhuman, Arabs being pedophiles with world domination at the lead of their agenda, or all white people being in league with “big corporations – set to overthrown any & all human rights. Truth is always found in one-on-one relationships. that is often found in the most unusual situations such as the military where everyone is the same green color. But it doesn’t have to come to that when thinking people realize that compromise through communication elements beyond Brinkmanship. And that compromise belittles no one.

    We have seen many people with WN backgrounds leave that life behind: it opens the door to assess WHO are the heroes…… There ARE some of them who are White.