Friday, March 10, 2017

Three New Reports on Hate Crimes

Since Trump's election night win, and especially since his inauguration, news sources have been brimming with reports of hate crimes, including anti-Semitic incidents, threats against mosques, and attacks on LGBTQ centers. The problem has become so pressing that a coalition of news organizations, educational institutions, and civil rights groups now seek to create a database of hate crimes via ProPublica's Documenting Hate project.

Three watchdog groups have released new reports on the spike in hate crimes in the U.S., which are must-reads for anyone who is concerned about the cultural climate in Trump's America.

Southern Poverty Law Center: The Year in Hate and Extremism

The SPLC examines the implications of the radical right entering the political mainstream, "electrified" by Trump's presidential campaign and his selection of appointees with anti-Muslim and white nationalist attitudes. The report also observes that a wave of hate incidents took place shortly after Election Day, with 1,094 incidents coming to the SPLC's attention in the first 34 days. More than a third of these incidents referenced Trump, "Make America Great Again", or his misogynist comments to Billy Bush.

Against the backdrop of Trump's ascent, hate groups operating in the U.S. are proliferating. The SPLC counted 917 active hate groups in 2016, an increase from the 892 groups counted in 2015. In particular, anti-Muslim hate groups demonstrated a 197% increase from 2015 to 2016, likely due to Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric and recent Islamic extremist attacks.

South Asian Americans Leading Together: Power, Pain, Potential: South Asian Americans at the Forefront of Growth and Hate in the 2016 Election Cycle

SAALT's latest report observes, with disappointment, that some members of American society continue to imagine members of South Asian, Middle Eastern, Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu communities as monolithic and pernicious. Trump's xenophobic and anti-Muslim rhetoric during the 2016 presidential election only inflamed these attitudes. SAALT argues that the increase in hate crimes against these communities over the past year is connected to the inflammatory rhetoric of the 2016 election and its aftermath.

In November 2015, SAALT established an online database of hate incidents directed at South Asian, Middle Eastern, Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu victims. From its creation to November 15, 2016, SAALT documented 140 incidents of hate violence, 94% of which were anti-Muslim in nature. The report also highlights the use of xenophobic and anti-Muslim rhetoric by Donald Trump and explores its correlation to discriminatory policies.

SAALT urges political leaders to address hate crimes by improving policies, legislation, and reporting mechanisms related to profiling and hate crimes. Additionally, the report encourages Americans to support civic engagement and political education both within and without South Asian, Middle Eastern, Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu communities.

Anti-Defamation League: Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2016

While far-right violence cannot be ignored in these times, many forms of extremism festered even before the election. Domestic Islamic extremists and black nationalist extremists, as well as right-wing anti-government, anti-abortion, and white supremacist extremists, were responsible for acts of violence in 2016, according to a new ADL report.

The shadow of the 2016 Pulse massacre in Orlando hung over ADL's latest report on extremist violence. The Anti-Defamation League's preliminary tally of murders committed by domestic extremists in 2016 was 69 known killings (49 victims killed by Omar Mateen during the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub and 20 victims killed by other extremists). The death toll of the Pulse shooting allowed 2016 to exceed 2015's tally of domestic extremist killings.

The ADL reminded readers that while extremist murders make up a small percentage of all killings in the U.S., they signify the presence of extremist networks that perpetrate other crimes.
"It is important to note that the number of Americans killed by domestic extremists is small compared to the total number of murders in the United States or even the number of those who die from gun violence each year. But these deaths represent merely the tip of a pyramid of extremist violence and crime in this country. For every person killed at the hands of an extremist, many more are wounded or injured in attempted murders and assaults. Every year, police uncover and prevent a wide variety of extremist plots and conspiracies with lethal intentions. And extremists engage in a wide variety of other crimes related to their causes, from threats and harassment to white collar crime."

Americans must address this increase in hateful rhetoric and hate violence. Now more than ever, it's important to stay informed about hate crime trends, take steps in our communities to promote inclusion, help victims secure services, and call out hate speech.

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