The Activist’s Scientific Assertion
Following the titular formula typically used in articles about scientific (or at least quasi-scientific) studies, the Providence Journal gave this story the headline “Views may spur hate crimes”:
Anti-immigrant sentiment is fueling nationwide increases in the number of hate groups and the number of hate crimes targeting Latinos, a watchdog group said Monday.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, in a report titled “The Year in Hate,” said it counted 888 hate groups in its latest tally, up from 844 in 2006 and 602 in 2000.
The most prominent of the organizations newly added to the list, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, vehemently rejected the “hate group” label, and questioned the law center’s motives. FAIR said the center was using smear tactics to boost donations and stifle legitimate debate on immigration.
“Their banner may be ‘Stop the hate’ but it’s really ‘Stop the debate,'” said FAIR’s president, Dan Stein. “Apparently you can’t even articulate an argument for immigration reform without being smeared.”
I suppose we should be grateful that the headline writer conceded the “may,” but even if it the suggestion had been the result of some sort of actual correlative study, the emphasis strikes me as odd. It puts the responsibility all on one trend, on one group. An objective report would reflect the reality that hostilities grow from the interactions of differing groups, so the headline would be along the lines of “Immigration tensions may spur hate crimes.”
As it stands, the paper takes a side, the opposite of which might be “Illegal immigration, government inaction may spur hate crimes.”