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Close Cousins or Distance Relatives? The Relationship Between Terrorism and Hate Crime


Prior research has frequently drawn parallels between the study of hate crimes and the study of terrorism. Yet, key differences between the two behaviors may be underappreciated in extant work. Terrorism is often an “upward crime,” involving a perpetrator of lower social standing than the targeted group. By contrast, hate crimes are disproportionately “downward crimes,” usually entailing perpetrators belonging to the majority or powerful group in society and minority group victims. The latter difference implies that hate crimes and terrorism are more akin to distant relatives than close cousins. These divergent perspectives provide a backdrop for the present research, which empirically investigates the association between hate crimes and terrorism. In doing so, we contribute to prior work on hate crimes and terrorism by emphasizing the temporal association between these behaviors and by empirically investigating the potential for one kind of violent event to trigger another kind of violence. Time-series analyses of weekly and daily data on terrorism and hate crimes committed in the United States between 1992 and 2008 reveal three primary conclusions. First, we find no evidence to suggest that hate crimes are a precursor to future terrorism. Second, hate crimes are often perpetrated in response to terrorist acts. Third, the latter association is particularly strong for hate crimes perpetrated against minority groups after a non-right-wing terrorist attack, particularly attacks on symbols of core American ideals, indicating that some hate crimes may essentially constitute expressions of retaliation.

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Full Citation:

Asal, Victor, Kathleen Deloughery, and Ryan King. 2012. "Close Cousins or Distance Relatives? The Relationship Between Terrorism and Hate Crime." Crime and Delinquency (September): 663-668. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0011128712452956

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