By: Eliana Gabriel
No matter what your political alignment is, it is clear that the frequency of hate crimes has increased. So, what is causing this?
During recent years in the United States, and especially since the election of President Donald Trump in 2016, reports of various types of hate crimes have become more common. For example, in Florida, within the last two years, there has been news of several extreme acts of hate and bigotry. In October 2017, a man named Gerald Wallace(35), pled guilty of making violent threats over the telephone to The Islamic Center of Greater Miami. Wallace threatened to shoot congregants, and said, “I’m gonna shoot all y’all.” It was later revealed that Wallace’s threat was an attempt to have the congregants stop their worship and scare them into restricting their religious freedom. He also mentioned that discussion on terrorism and Muslims on the news caused him to make this call.
In response to this incident, John Gore, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division said, “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute hate crimes so that all people, no matter how they worship, the color of their skin, or their country of origin, can live their lives freely and without fear.”
It is no secret that a big part of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign mentioned a ban on Muslims entering the United States. In 2015, Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Additionally, on his Twitter account, he reported exaggerated crime statistics. Trump claimed there is a “spread of Radical Islamic Terror” in the United Kingdom.
One can logically conclude that a lot of hate crimes done around this time have been influenced by Trump’s anti-Islam rhetoric. Because Donald Trump spent a significant amount of time during his campaign speeches discussing that we should be wary of those of the Muslim faith and encouraging paranoia, this may be a reason why there was an increase in dangerous behavior relating to it.
Additionally, during September this year in Cincinnati, Ohio, a man named Samuel Whitt broke into a rental home belonging to an interracial couple. He proceeded to spray paint the walls with derogatory slurs and messages like “white power” and “die n****r.”He also drew swastikas on the walls and dealt severe damage to the plumbing system and kitchen of the home that would have put the couple in great danger. These damages totaled about $50,000.
While Trump has not shown his affiliation with white nationalist groups explicitly, he has said things indicative of someone who at least supports the discriminatory ideas that they stand for.
Discussing heavily black and Hispanic communities/cities, Trump said, “Our inner cities, African Americans, Hispanics are living in hell because it’s so dangerous.” This generalization is harmful to those of black and Hispanic backgrounds because it provides a harsh stereotype that they only live in poor, dangerous areas. Also, in 2018, during White House conferences, he demeaned and ridiculed three black female reporters in three days. Trump called journalist Abby Phillip’s question “stupid,” described April Ryan as a “loser,” and dismissed Yamiche Alcindor’s question about Trump labeling himself as a “nationalist” and whether that would encourage the enboldenment of “white nationalists.” Trump called the question “racist.”
April Ryan told the Washington Post, “He’s not able to finesse his disdain for certain people. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately because you can see for yourself what it is, perception is reality with this president. . . He attacks the people he feels are beneath him.”
Trump treated these women with prejudice.
In addition to this, Trump referred to the notorious Charlottesville rioters (who were holding swastika flags, chanting “Jews will not replace us”), as “very fine people.” He neglected to address the extreme discriminatory nature of the rioters.
So, yes, while we will never know for sure if the sudden rise in hate crimes in recent years has been directly caused by Donald Trump’s presidency, there can be clear connections made between his words and attitude and the motives behind these crimes. Donald Trump is using his hateful rhetoric to fuel the fires of discrimination, whether he means to or not. Being our president, he is causing people to view these attitudes as normal and acceptable- and that is not okay. We need to recognize that his words affect our society and influence the way people think and act. By encouraging this hate and enforcing stereotypes, he is encouraging the development of these hate crimes. America is supposed to be the land of celebrated diversity, where different cultures and ethnicities can coexist peacefully. But as long as people continue to listen to Trump’s hateful speeches and act on their common prejudice, the nation will never progress to see that world.
Information in this article was taken from newrepublic.com, justice.gov, washingtonpost.com, fox19.com, nytimes.com, and cnn.com