Life is full of hard things and easy things. Let’s take the hard things first.
If you’re a science-type Asian you’ll appreciate why Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm used one of Pres. Joe Biden’s pet phrases to describe what was accomplished by American science today.
The phrase is “BFD.” And the stage of nuclear fusion we find ourselves today is a BFD.
Consider that for decades, scientists essentially have been trying to put the “sun in a bottle,” harness its power to produce useable energy.
It hasn’t been easy. But now at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, not far from where I sit in California, scientists have taken hydrogen atoms and exposed them to extremely high temperatures, getting to a stage they call “ignition” and producing an energy surplus.
In other words, when they lasered all the energy it took to split up the hydrogens, it actually resulted in more leftover energy.
It’s energy that can be used to power your house, cities, a nation. All faster than solar power. All cleaner than fossil fuels like oil and gas. And all of it unlocking the potential of using hydrogen sources like sea water for clean energy. With the Livermore Lab’s success, we can also envision answers to our seemingly insurmountable climate change issues.
This is the BFD.
We can do fusion. We just can’t do hate crime stats.
Not in the U.S.
NUCLEAR FUSION, YES? ARITHMETIC, NO.
Well, you do need the numbers if you want decent FBI Hate Crime stats. And if fusion is the “Holy Grail” of physicists, accurate hate crime stats is a similar goal for civil rights activists.
How else can you tell how we’re doing?
On Monday the FBI reported that 7,262 hate crimes were reported in 2021 versus 8,263 in 2020.
It’s down. Hooray?
No. Only about two-thirds of local police departments, 11,883 of 18,812 agencies, reported hate crimes last year, down from more than 90 percent the year before, according to the New York Times.
The Justice Department knows there’s an undercount but released it anyway. And they know why the numbers are wrong. There’s a new National Incident-Based Reporting System that now exists and some cities–New York City, as well as cities in California– didn’t submit.
Essentially, it’s all the Asian American places. A coincidence? But it means the FBI’s flawed numbers are out there and need a huge asterisk next to them, lest Republicans use the decline in hate crime numbers to say “Racism? Solved it.”
Without the asterisk, MAGA folks would be out thanking the Proud Boys for the downward trend.
Fortunately, there are others studies, like the one from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. It reported that hate crimes between 2020 and 2021 increased 15-25 percent in 52 jurisdictions, according to the New York Times. And the largest increases were attacks on Asian Americans.
We also have the #StopAAPIHate numbers, which came out in July this year and recorded two years of hate instances between March 2020 and March 2022.
The number: 11,500.
You don’t need to split those atoms. But #StopAAPIHate is often maligned for including self-reported incidents that range from real violence to verbal slights and insults. Harassment, sure? But hate crime? In a broad sense, definitely.
That’s the number when someone asks me what’s up with AAPI hate crimes.
11,500 between March 2020 and 2022.
That’s a number that provides a real sense of what I call our unique hate data acronym, the AAAAPI number, the animus against AAPIs.
Sadly, it’s not low.
Which brings us to the real, but bogus, FBI report. The FBI data this year is a fake number that had to be produced to meet bureaucratic deadlines. But any time you hear that “hate crimes are down,” here’s your comeback: It’s incomplete.
Use the #StopAAPIHate number instead.
Its report in the summer indicated that two in three (67%) of nearly 11,500 incidents involved harassment, such as verbal or written hate speech or inappropriate gestures.
And it was a diverse group of AAPI individuals who were also female, non-binary, LGBTQIA+, and/or elderly. The haters targeted them from being twofers, threefers, or fourfers, multiple identities at once.
If the point of the numbers is to gauge hate, go broad. Count them all. There’s no such thing as ticky-tack hate. Hate is hate.
Maybe some day we will get to the ideal. Zero.
But there’s hope today.
America can smash hydrogen atoms with high temperature lasers and produce a net positive, a surplus of energy that can power our homes and our nation, without using fossil fuels.
Surely, if we can do that, we can get the official arithmetic correct on hate crimes in America.
NOTE: I will talk about this column and other matters on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my AAPI micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on www.amok.com.