According to the FBI, the definition of a hate crime is a "Criminal offence committed against a person or property which is motivated, in whole or by part, by the offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnicity/national origin, or sexual-orientation." Crimes upon persons because of a difference in how they appear, believe, or act have been a growing concern throughout history. (Uniform Crime Reports, 2002) According to Eric Holder, a former assistant U.S. Attorney General, "The true scope of these crimes as a growing national problem is just now being realized." (Holder, 1999) Looking back into history, many crimes could be construed as a hate crime, yet were ignored. President Lincoln was not shot for being President or for being a white male. He was shot for his beliefs against slavery.
Many people view hate crime committers as demented, hate-filled neo-Nazis or as many people have called them, "skinheads".
That may have been the situation in historical hate crime cases, but that is not the case in today's world. Law-abiding persons who see nothing immoral with their actions commit the most hate crimes. Many hate crimes are committed by a group of people rather than one single person. A possible key factor to the occurrences of hate crimes is peer pressure. When in a group setting, many people behave in ways that is not normal for them. Alcohol and drugs will sometimes assist these crimes, but the key motivation appears to be personal prejudice.
Eric Holder believes that through understanding, education, and an effort involving everybody, we can fight the terrorism going on in our own country, with our own people. He also believes that the current federal statute has many inconsistencies. Under Statute 18 USC Section 245, the federal government only prohibits hate crimes based on race, color,