Rising Hate Crimes
It’s startling to see a hike in hate crimes in California. The rise of bigotry and hateful rhetoric is having an appalling effect on our society. As a result of Trump’s election, hate groups that would normally remain quiet are emboldened and Trump’s weak condemnation of hate groups seems to be encouraging this trend of rising hate crimes.
During the 2016 Election
To many people’s surprise, this trend cannot only be attributed to the contentious 2016 presidential election. Presidential elections often activate the partisan nature of many voters and in a time of already high political polarization, the 2016 election seemed to bring out the worst in people. Brian Levin, director of the nonpartisan Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, argued that by highlighting issues such as race, religion and national origin, the presidential election campaign influenced both the number of incidents and frequency of reporting them to police.
To no one’s surprise, after Trump campaigned on a “Muslim ban,” the Council on American-Islamic Relations found hate crimes against Muslim Americans increase by fifteen percent. Likewise, one cannot help but assume that hate crimes against Latinos in California increased by more than 50 percent since 2016 because of Trump’s claim that Mexicans are “bringing drugs….bringing crime….[and are] rapists.” Trump’s repeated attacks on minority groups make them more vulnerable to hate groups because after seeing that the President of the United States of America scapegoats minorities too, these hate groups feel more empowered knowing their hate is validated by the president himself.
Living Under the Trump Administration
Under the Trump administration, this trend might soon accelerate. Trump has repeatedly used MS-13, an international gang, to caricaturize immigrants from Central America, leading these communities back into the shadows. By stereotyping an entire race based on the actions of a few, Trump has dehumanized many minority communities. Moreover, anti-semitic attacks on the rise. Trump has, however, spoken out on this issue claiming this behavior deeply disturbs him as Ivanka, his daughter, is personally affected. One, however, has to wonder about those other minority groups, who Trump may not personally be connected with. Will the President stand up then and finally condemn these hate crimes?
Discrimination against minority groups is a slippery slope. Terese Drenick, deputy district attorney for Alameda County told Newsweek that “Right around when the administration changed, we noticed an uptick at local, statewide and national levels of people reporting that they were victims of hate-related speech, and hate crimes.”
Trump’s Muslim ban and discriminatory policies towards LGBT Americans have empowered hate crimes, making many more sure to come. How has he done this under his administration? Trump has led to an increase in hate crimes through his enactment of discriminatory policies. It is now legal to deny LGBT couples a chance to adopt a child based on your personal view. Surely enough, under the Trump administration, hate crimes against those identifying as LGBTQ have increased.
However, the president’s supporters will cite how he stood up for Jews against anti-Semitic attacks. They should note that after the attack at Charlottesville, Trump placed blame on “many sides.” By avoiding direct condemnation of white supremacists, the President failed to use his bully pulpit to force hate groups back into the shadows, thus directly empowering hate groups by an omission of blame. After this incident, the organizers of the Unite the Right rally, Jason Kessler and Richard Spencer, failed to accept all the blame for the Charlottesville riots. Until recently, Jason Kessler was actually seeking to host another Unite the Right Rally, except this time he applied for a permit to host it in Washington D.C. This clearly shows how Trump has normalized hate because now, white supremacists like Kessler feel comfortable bringing their hate to our nation’s capital. Hate is a slippery slope, as stated before, and the consequences should be tied to the president. As said by Reverend Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco branch of the NAACP, “It begins at the top.”
How to Fight Back
For the third year in a row since 2016, hate crimes are still rising. Fighting back against this trend requires a multifaceted approach. For one, every one of us needs to engage with our community. We need to meet with our neighbors, make them feel welcomed, and in the public’s eye, humanize minorities again. Latinos are not animals like the president implies when he associates them with MS-13.
Another way to fight back revolves around a change in leadership. Electing a Congress this November that will check the president’s statements and urge him to use stronger language against hate. It will either take this or a change in the leadership’s approach.
There also needs to be a cultural shift towards the embrace of diversity rather than the divisive culture of political polarization. To support this cultural shift, consider donating to groups like the Hispanic Scholarship Fund or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that are trying to promote diversity in America.
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