Remember the halcyon days of early 2019, when pop media dinosaurs like the Washington Post shamelessly reported, and other media darlings like Vox recklessly parroted, a claim that political rallies put on by, or in support of, Donald Trump were correlated to spikes in so-called “hate crimes” in those counties?
So sad. Like fever dreams, those days are gone, but don’t expect any of those major pop media outlets to write retractions, apologize, or revisit the story. It’s taken the libertarian magazine, Reason – the editorial staff of which often takes a clear-headedly critical approach to Trump’s policies – and two Ph.D. students at Harvard to set the record straight.
In their newly released piece, Matthew Lilley and Brian Wheaton take on the silly assumptions plaguing the reports and the study on which they were based, and they come to some important conclusions:
- “Hate” crimes did not increase due to Trump rallies.
- If one were to use the methodology of the original researchers, Hillary Clinton political rallies could be seen as correlated with higher incidences of “hate” crimes in those counties.
But what excited the leftist “journalists” so much that, as Lilley and Wheaton note, those collectivist “reporters” heralded the first study before it was even peer reviewed?
Studying the effects of Trump's many campaign rallies on reported hate incidents, three professors at the University of North Texas and Texas A&M—Ayal Feinberg, Regina Branton, and Valerie Martinez-Ebers—claim that Trump rallies are associated with a 226 percent increase in such incidents.
The study, which the authors asked people not to cite without their explicit permission (no surprise, given its softness), allowed salivating outlets like The Young Turks to imply what one would expect: Trump supporters must be racist, homophobic, sexist, misogynistic, meat-eating maniacs prone to violence rather than the gentile “conversations” they engage in while enthusiastically pursuing increased taxes and attacks on individual rights.
Once again, Democratic politicians piled on. "Your language creates a climate which emboldens violent extremists," wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) in a social media post. "Your rhetoric is directly and indirectly inciting hate, Mr. President," tweeted Rep. Ilhan Omar (D–Minn.).
Indeed, the mantra continued. Yet the claims are baseless, as Lilley and Wheaton demonstrate.
Using the same data and statistical procedures as Feinberg et al., we replicated their study's headline result. Since we did not have access to the original paper's data and code, this involved collecting each of the variables mentioned in the original paper, and then independently performing the same analysis…
Their findings were similar to those of the original study. But Lilley and Wheaton did a bit more analysis, and used their noggins.
Both of these results rely on comparing counties with rallies to other counties without them. This produces a glaring problem. Politicians tend to hold political rallies near where large numbers of people live. And in places with more people, the raw number of crimes is generally mechanically higher. Simply put, no one should be surprised that Orange County, California (population 3.19 million) was home to both more reported hate incidents (5) and Trump rallies (2) than Orange County, Indiana (population 19,840, which had zero of each).
So, probably not wise to try to draw a correlation between Trump appearing in a particular county and so-called “hate crimes”, because the more populace counties selected are likely more prone to such crime in the first place. Lilley and Wheaton note the unfairness of this approach by applying the same standard to those thrilling Hillary Clinton rallies she put on a couple years ago:
Using additional data we collected, we also analyzed the effect of Hillary Clinton's campaign rallies using the identical statistical framework. The ostensible finding: Clinton rallies contribute to an even greater increase in hate incidents than Trump rallies.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for the sheer insight of The Young Turks smothering themselves on that story like butter on toast. Don’t look for CNN to cover that the way they did the Trump side of things.
And don’t count on many people even bothering to question the jurisprudential soundness of so-called “hate crimes” or any Natural Law or Common Law basis for “hate crime” legislation. Whether a criminal should be punished more harshly for assault because the criminal was motivated by racial or “another form” of hatred, rather than, say, because he hated someone’s romantic tryst with a relative is a form of attempted behavioral or thought control. It also allows agents of the state to begin picking and choosing favorite “groups” who will be protected, rather than simply applying the laws for assault, murder, and other violent crime or property crimes equally.
Many Americans are rapidly losing a firm grip on the language, falling prey to the collectivist strategy of using linguistic legerdemain to gain leverage over peaceful people who will not conform. Alienation, demonization, and isolation come next, followed by what we saw in nations such as Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia – silencing, arrest, punishment, and elimination.
The widespread pop media reliance on this “Trump Rallies Inspire Hate” narrative is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
Good for Lilley and Wheaton. They help sound-minded people steer clear of potential shipwreck.