On April 5, 2017, Senators Alexander and Corker joined in the unanimous consent of the Senate and “agreed to” S.Res. 118: A resolution condemning hate crime and any other form of racism, religious or ethnic bias, discrimination, incitement to violence, or animus targeting a minority in the United States. Because S.Res.118 was introduced as a “simple resolution,” considered a non-binding statement of the Senate, no roll call vote is required, the House does not vote on it, and it has no force of law although it remains to be seen whether a bill will follow later.
According to the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), “[t]he drafting, introduction, and passage of this resolution [was] the result of a joint advocacy effort between MPAC and Emerge USA [a Muslim organization now renamed eMgage]. We ensured that the resolution went beyond rhetoric and resolves that the government take concrete steps to address hate crimes.”
S.Res. 118 references acts of anti-Semitism, threats against Jewish institutions, anti-Black or anti-African American bias crimes, and “harassment and hate-based violence against individuals who are perceived to be Arab or Muslim, including members of South Asian communities in the United States, and Hindu and Sikh Americans” but reserves the opening and misleading statistic in the second clause for Muslims:
Whereas, in 2015, hate crimes targeting Muslims in the United States increased by 67 percent, reaching a level of violence targeting Muslim Americans that the United States had not experienced since the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Putting the “67 percent” increase in hate crimes targeting Muslims into the full data scope of the FBI’s hate crime reports shows an exaggerated and misleading use of the statistic. For example, going back as far as the FBI 2012 Hate Crime Statistics through the most recently published, Jewish victims of anti-religious hate crimes far out-stripped the number of Islamic/Muslim victims. In fact, the number of victims in categories such as racially-motivated and sexual-orientation motivated hate crimes also far exceeded the number of Islamic/Muslim victims:
sexual orientation bias – 1,376 total victims sexual orientation bias – 1,402 total victims
53.9% anti-gay/male or 741 victims 60.6% anti-gay/male or 849 victims
religious bias – 1,340 total victims religious bias – 1,163 total victims
62.4% anti-Jewish or 836 victims 59.2% anti-Jewish or 688 victims
11.6% anti-Islamic or 155 victims 14.2% anti-Islamic or 165 victims
sexual orientation bias – 1,248 total victims sexual orientation bias – 1,263 total victims
56.3% anti-gay/male or 702 victims 62.2% anti-gay/male or 785 victims
religious bias – 1,140 total victims religious bias – 1,402 total victims
56.8% anti-Jewish or 647 victims 52.1% anti-Jewish or 730 victims
16.1% anti-Islamic or 183 victims 21.9% anti-Islamic or 307 victims
S.Res. 118, introduced by radical California progressive, Sen. Kamala Harris was co-sponsored by Democrat Tammy Duckworth and Republicans Marco Rubio and Susan Collins (whose home state of Maine’s legislature was blocked by the ACLU and House Democrats from passing a bill to criminalize female genital mutilation).
The day after the Senate’s action, almost identical language was introduced by Virginia Republican Barbara Comstock as House Resolution 257 and now has seventeen Democrat and five Republican co-sponsors.
While neither the Senate nor House resolutions have the force of law at this time, certain provisions of the resolutions such as establishing an interagency task force and stepped up law enforcement action to address hate crimes could subsequently make their way into binding legislation.
In 2015, a similar resolution but which only addressed Muslims as a targeted group, H.Res.569, Condemning violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims in the United States, was introduced in the House by Virginia Democrat Donald Beyer and gathered 145 co-sponsors including Democrat Steve Cohen from Memphis. No further action was taken before the Congressional session ended, effectively killing the bill.