Is there an increase in hate crimes following a national crisis or during other difficult times?
While direct correlations are always difficult to establish, there is strong evidence that when the country is faced with traumatic events, such as the tragic events at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, hate crimes escalate. In the weeks following the events of September 11th, for example, the FBI initiated numerous hate crime investigations involving reported attacks on Arab American citizens and institutions. These attacks ranged from verbal harassment to physical assaults. There were also reports of mosques being firebombed or vandalized. Attacks on people with no cultural, political, or ethnic affinity with any Middle Eastern group, but who "looked Arab" or "looked Muslim" also became common following the emotional upheaval that followed the attack. In the wake of the overwhelming response to the toll-free hotline established to document claims of discrimination, harassment, and hate crimes following the September 11th terrorist attacks, the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) expanded its capacity to collect information by initiating a second toll-free hotline. During one 12-hour period following the attacks, the volume of calls peaked at approximately 70 calls per hour.