Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Stopping the trend of hate

It’s no secret that there was a spike in bias- and hate-motivated incidents following the recent US elections. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has documented 701 incidents of hateful harassment so far, which, given what we know of bias crimes, is likely to be only a fraction of the total number. Even so, there IS good news.

The chart above is from SPLC shows the number of incidents by date. Apart from a spike on November 14, the trend has been going down. Any reduction in hateful incidents is very good news, perhaps indicating that the most bigoted of Don’s fanatics must have tired of their election celebrations. But this could just be a lull.

Don has already been seen to be pandering to racists, immigration bigots, and white supremacists with his actual or considered appointments for his regime. These people are likely to continue to fire up the most bigoted Americans, particularly if the rhetoric coming from Don’s regime promotes bigotry and xenophobia as much as his campaign did.

SPLC notes that:
"Incidents by type ranked by number of reports include: Anti-immigrant (206), anti-Black (151), anti-LGBT (80), swastika vandalism (60), anti-Muslim (51), and anti-woman (36). We are keeping track of anti-Trump incidents as well, which rose from our last report from 20 to 27."
Most worrying, they say:
“…anti-immigrant incidents remain the top type of harassment reported and that nearly 40 percent of all incidents occurred in educational (K-12 schools and university/college) settings.”
Kids! Kids are committing hateful harassment. We all ought to be ashamed about that.
The question, of course, is what we do about it. SPLC will become a valuable resource, particularly if Don gets his racist Attorney General who would be unlikely to care about such harassment. States, too, can play an important role.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently set up a hotline for New Yorkers to report incidents of bias and discrimination. Cuomo said on Sunday:
"The ugly political discourse of the election did not end on Election Day. In many ways it has gotten worse, into a social crisis that now challenges our identity as a state and as a nation and our people. It goes beyond politics: it questions our American character—who we are and what we believe."
So far, the hotline has received more than 400 calls since its launch on Friday.

The Obama Administration, meanwhile, is continuing to monitor the rise of bias crimes and to deal with them, as Attorney General Lynch talks about in the video below. However, they only have a couple months left, and with an emboldened Republican Congress determined to prevent them from doing anything, they have a battle, even in attempts to end bias crimes.

This is one of those times when vigilance is vital—to avoid becoming a victim, first and foremost, but also to stand up to bias and bigotry when we encounter it. The current wave of bias crimes may be subsiding, but this is not the time to relax. Instead, we must do all we can do to stop the trend of hate.

Update – November 23: The US Holocaust Memorial Museum released a statement condemning a gathering of white nationalists in Washington, DC, pointing out: "The Holocaust did not begin with killing; it began with words."

No comments: