March 10, 2008

The Activist's Scientific Assertion

Justin Katz

Following the titular formula typically used in articles about scientific (or at least quasi-scientific) studies, the Providence Journal gave this story the headline "Views may spur hate crimes":

Anti-immigrant sentiment is fueling nationwide increases in the number of hate groups and the number of hate crimes targeting Latinos, a watchdog group said Monday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, in a report titled "The Year in Hate," said it counted 888 hate groups in its latest tally, up from 844 in 2006 and 602 in 2000.

The most prominent of the organizations newly added to the list, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, vehemently rejected the "hate group" label, and questioned the law center's motives. FAIR said the center was using smear tactics to boost donations and stifle legitimate debate on immigration.

"Their banner may be 'Stop the hate' but it's really 'Stop the debate,'" said FAIR's president, Dan Stein. "Apparently you can't even articulate an argument for immigration reform without being smeared."

I suppose we should be grateful that the headline writer conceded the "may," but even if it the suggestion had been the result of some sort of actual correlative study, the emphasis strikes me as odd. It puts the responsibility all on one trend, on one group. An objective report would reflect the reality that hostilities grow from the interactions of differing groups, so the headline would be along the lines of "Immigration tensions may spur hate crimes."

As it stands, the paper takes a side, the opposite of which might be "Illegal immigration, government inaction may spur hate crimes."

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Speaking of headlines, above the fold on the front page of Sunday's ProJo read "Bush vetoes ban on torture". The second paragraph of the article read: "Mr. Bush said such tactics [simulated drowning] have helped foil terrorist plots. His critics likened some methods to torture and said they sullied American's reputation around the world." His critics? I guess we know where the news desk positions itself on the issue.

Posted by: mikeinRI at March 10, 2008 9:14 PM

The Southern Poverty Law Center labels any organization (and anyone) that is even slightly to the right of the ACLU or Michael Moore a "hate group."

The only reason that organization should be taken seriously is because some lefty whackos take it seriously, and they sometimes get elected (can you say Pelosi)?

Posted by: Tom W at March 10, 2008 9:15 PM

tom w is 100% correct about the splc-they consider anyone who wants to have immigration laws enforced;own firearms;or object to outfits like nambla existing are "haters" or "bigots"-they are the same ilk as the aclu nowadays although in years past they targeted the kkk,which really is a hate group-now they target anyone who isn't a feminized America hater

Posted by: joe bernstein at March 10, 2008 9:49 PM
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