The same week that a Pottsville, PA jury commenced deliberations on the killing of Mexican
Now, some experts are suggesting that vocal opponents of illegal immigration may be fueling hate crimes against Hispanic Americans.
Joining us from Los Angeles to discuss this is Brian Levin. He's the director of the center for the study of hate and extremism at California State University in San Bernardino and also the author of the upcoming book, "Understanding Hate Crimes."
Brian, it's good to see you.
Brian Levin, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF HATE AND EXTREMISM, CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY: Thanks for having me, Laura.
INGRAHAM: Brian let's start with a definition. What is a "hate crime"?
LEVIN: A hate crime is a discriminatory crime. It's a criminal act where someone is selected to be a target because of their perceived membership in a group that's listed in the law. Usually it's race, religion, sexual orientation, that kind of thing.
INGRAHAM: And how do you determine if someone has the intent to carry out a hate crime? Is it statements made during the crime? Is it other type of documentary evidence?
LEVIN: You're exactly right. You have to prove that, though. You have to establish that discriminatory selection beyond a reasonable doubt. And the Unite States Supreme Court in a 9-0 decision, which I actually wrote a couple of amicus briefs, said that it's thoroughly constitutional, as long as you can establish that, beyond a reasonable doubt, that there was discriminatory selection.
INGRAHAM: OK. I want to talk about what specifically is happening in L.A. County. Because I picked up the L.A. Times today, and I'm reading this piece about Latino versus black violence, and it's called "Brown on Black Violence, Black on Brown Violence." It's been written about a lot. I've been covering it on my radio show.
And it seems to me that the number of hate crimes against immigrants, in fact, fell. It didn't go up. It fell slightly. So how are we making this argument? And I saw the quote by you, saying that inflammatory rhetoric might be one of the causes of hate crimes. How is this all, you know, measuring up if, in fact, the hate crimes are going down against immigrants coming into the United States?
LEVIN: Great point. What I think -- let me try and distinguish. I think a lot of the anti-Latino attacks -- and anti-Latino hate crimes nationally have been the No. 1 ethnic group targets for, gosh, as long as we've been collecting data.
So what I think -- what we've seen was an actual slight decrease in the number of attacks that we could clearly attributes anti-immigrant, but by the same token, we were seeing increases of anti-Latino hate crimes. And I think that a lot of those are fueled by anti-immigrant sentiment.
INGRAHAM: Again, Brian, this is where you lose me. And this is where, you know, I think to myself, we are now being told that we have to police our viewpoints and the way we speak because, if we don't, if we don't watch what we say -- if we actually say that we think our laws should be enforced, then we're going to be called guilty of aiding and abetting or causing a hate crime. That's absurd in this country. We still have the First Amendment.
LEVIN: Not only is it an absurd, it's not what I'm saying. You're absolutely right. And one of the things that our center looks at is there are legitimate areas of public debate, and there are people of good will who are for strict laws with regard to immigration. We know that.
What I'm talking about -- I'm talking about people who use swastikas, people who use inflammatory -- inflammatory language based on someone's ethnicity. I'm not talking about people of goodwill who happen to believe that...
INGRAHAM: I think the Supreme Court has said that even offensive speech is a speech that needs to be protected. So I get very uncomfortable when I see annual comments about how inflammatory rhetoric is perhaps fueling this.
LEVIN: Absolutely. Laura, Laura...
INGRAHAM: I remember Jameel (ph) Shaw, Brian. Jameel (ph) Shaw, African-American football star, brutally murdered in a Latino gang hit on him just a few months ago. That was devastating. We could talk about -- we could talk about...
LEVIN: Can I respond, though? You're making a lot of points.
INGRAHAM: We're out of time, unfortunately.
LEVIN: That's great. Inflammatory language...
INGRAHAM: We'll have you on my radio show. I apologize for that. We'll have you on my radio show next week. We'll continue the discussion. But fascinating stuff.