Hate crime shift in U.S.; Reichsburger plot in Germany

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The FBI released its annual report on hate crime data, but the numbers are so flawed most experts in extremism say they are all but useless. Meanwhile, a House committee holds a hearing on the “growing cancer” of domestic extremism, and more details emerge about a wide-ranging far-right plot in Germany.

It’s the week in extremism.

The FBI’s flawed hate crime numbers

In the five years I’ve been writing about extremism, experts and academics have constantly complained about the FBI’s annual report on hate crime data across the country. That report came out this week, and it’s apparently getting even worse.

  • The report lists more than 7,300 hate or “bias-motivated” crimes in 2021. That’s down from just over 8,200 reported hate crimes in 2020.
  • But unlike in 2020, when 93% of the nation’s law enforcement agencies participated in the survey (still an inaccurate measure), in 2021 only about 65% of agencies reported stats to the FBI.
  • “The FBI’s hate crime data release is so severely hampered by a decline in participating agencies … It is simply not representative of the actual hate crime trend, which is up,” Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at the California State University, San Bernardino told USA TODAY.
  • To understand more about why these numbers are so inaccurate, check out this analysis from ProPublica from a few years ago.

On the newest flawed FBI stats:Over 7,000 hate crimes were reported to the FBI in 2021. Here’s why that data is flawed.

Hate crime charges in Club Q shooting:Suspect in Colorado shooting at LGBTQ nightclub charged with 305 counts, including hate crimes, murder

House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., during a hearing in June 2022.

‘Growing cancer’ of domestic extremism

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing on domestic extremism Wednesday focused on the rise of extremism and violence against the LGBTQ community. The committee heard from several experts who stressed that hate crimes and violence remain a significant threat to the American public, and particularly the LGBTQ community.

  • In her opening statement, Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney said:  “Hate is on the rise. That is why it is critical that Congress continue to shed light on this growing cancer and come up with substantive solutions to address hate and violence.
  • Last month, I wrote an analysis of the shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ-friendly club in Colorado Springs, and how many experts on extremism were waiting for such an attack to happen.
  • Those experts said the growing violence against the LGBTQ community is a direct result of increased hateful and dehumanizing rhetoric towards that group, especially transgender people. 
  • James Slaugh, a survivor of the Club Q attack, agreed with that assessment, telling the hearing.”We are continually being dehumanized, marginalized and targeted. The fear-based and hateful rhetoric surrounding the  LGBTQ+ community, especially around trans individuals and drag performers, leads to violence — it incites violence.” 

Club Q attack ‘no surprise’:Club Q attack no surprise for extremism experts who saw looming threat, decades-old pattern

Oath Keepers leader guilty:What it was like to watch Oath Keeper Stewart Rhodes be convicted for seditious conspiracy

The German parliament Bundestag building, the Reichstag Building, seen Dec. 7, 2022. Officials say thousands of police carried out a series of raids across much of Germany against suspected far-right extremists who allegedly sought to overthrow the state in an armed coup.

25 arrests in German far-right plot:Germany arrests 25 suspected far-right extremists on suspicion of planning armed coup

German plot echoes QAnon

More details emerged this week about a wide-ranging far-right plot that was disrupted in Germany late last week when police made 25 arrests of people accused of planning to overthrow the German government.   

  • The far-right movement that spawned the plot has some similarities and connections to QAnon, the U.S.-based conspiracy theory.
  • Known as the Reichsbürger, or Citizens of the Reich, the movement believes that the German state is illegitimate, and that a secretive “deep state” is controlling and manipulating everyday people.
  • As the New York Times reported, the German movement, which has existed for decades, got a shot in the arm from QAnon and from the COVID pandemic, which was a catalyst for conspiracy theories across the globe.

The big picture: Like many conspiracy theories, including QAnon, the Reichsbürger is rooted in anti-semitism. “The mythology and language QAnon uses — including claims of a ‘deep state’ of globalist elites running the government and revenge fantasies against those elites — conjure ancient antisemitic tropes and putsch visions that have long animated Germany’s far-right fringe,” the Times reported.

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