Hate crimes and Asian Pacific Americans
The U.S. Senate's passage of tougher legislation on hate crimes is a good step in the right direction. Unfortunately, some analysts predict that the new bill will have a hard time getting through the House of Representatives.
The Asian Pacific American community has been shocked repeatedly over the last few years by the seeming increase in hate crimes involving APAs.
Indeed, with the series of school shootings and other crimes, including those committed by law officers themselves, it seems as though violent crime on the whole is on the rise.
Yet, according to government statistics nearly all types of crime, including violent offensives, have decreased sharply.
How do we reconcile the seeming contradiction between what we hear from the government and what seems to be happening on the streets?
New York City Mayor Rudolph Guiliani has often cited his record in drastically reducing the crime rate in NYC.
Yet, some of the most noteworthy cases of violence over the last several years have still come from NYC. These include a number of incidents involving police officers themselves including the recent Diallo case.
Does this type of law enforcement contribute to our feeling of security? Probably would depend on which neighborhood you lived in.
Another possibility is the crunching of statistics. If a law enforcement agency feels the need to reduce crime, they can do much more easily on paper than on the streets. The care in which statistics are reported can greatly influence the 'crime rate.'
However, it is more difficult to cover up more serious crimes like murder. You have to report deaths, but then again, whether these deaths are considered crimes or not can sometimes rest on pure judgement calls.
And then, maybe, just those types of crimes that shock us the most are on the increase. Has there ever been anything comparable in American history to the live scenes broadcast from Columbine High School showing a bloodied student leaping out of a window?
For the APA community, it seems that nearly every recent mass murder or attempted mass murder classifiable as a hate crime has involved at least one APA.
Thus, the rosy statistics cannot be too comforting. And security is often simply a matter of perception.