David Rauzi

David Rauzi

We’re number two in the nation. For what? Hate.

Is this for real?

The Idaho Statesman on Aug. 15 reported on recently released data from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a nonprofit that monitors hate groups and advocates for civil rights. Idaho’s SPLC hate ranking (coming in below Montana as the nation’s most hateful state) is based on several factors:

Percent of population identifying as white: 91.5 percent (fifth highest of any state nationwide); percent of population foreign-born: 5.7 percent (22nd lowest); number of hate groups: 12 (7.1 per million residents).

For social scientists, the categories above apparently are significant to the formula to determine a state’s hatefulness.

But for everyday people? We asked them these past couple of weeks, mentioning the data this ranking was based on. The general reaction was astonishment, and – to one category specifically — the words “reverse racism” were said at the fact that a “whiter” state increases likelihood to hate.

They also said, “Where was mention of what hate crime was within Idaho?”

A good question, and in our opinion a better gauge to begin your evaluations. And that data is readily available through Idaho State Police, which showed 28 hate crimes reported last year. That is up by six (27.3 percent) from 2015, and in the five-year trend is third lowest with the high at 36 in 2012. Within that total was seen an increase in hate crime due to religious, racial and sexual orientation, and a decrease due to ethnicity.

And for some perspective, last year the state recorded more than 85,000 offenses; 28 hate crimes isn’t great, but statistically, it’s nearly nonexistent in comparison to the thousands of theft, assault and property destruction crimes reported last year.

So, hate crime isn’t a problem in the state, it’s not significant to rate a mention? We’re not saying that. At issue here is a SPLC report that statistically looks based on non sequitur data, within too short of a time frame, that leads to a conclusion best politically suited to the agenda of the organization that compiled it.

And to make that political hay, Idaho is slandered nationally as Hate State Number 2.

While Idaho County isn’t the state, from this corner of the world we have some extremely generous, caring and kind individuals here who judge on the Martin Luther King, Jr. standard: the contents of a person’s character. Yes, we have prejudice, we have hate; for crying out loud, who doesn’t? But that’s not what defines us as county residents, as communities, nor as a state.

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