The Unraveling Begins….

Swastikas on churches. Threatening graffiti in minority neighborhoods. Racist posts on Facebook and Twitter. The Klan and the American Nazi Party celebrating Trump’s “win for the Whites.”

These are very scary times.

Ed Brayton notes that Raw Story is keeping a list of all of the bigoted, criminal and violent attacks on gays, blacks, Muslims, women, Latinos in others since Donald Trump was elected–and that the list is growing by leaps and bounds.

We need to be honest; Trump did not create the bigotry he exploited and encouraged. It was already there, often barely below the surface. It reacted with seething hostility to the election of an African-American President, and was exacerbated by recognition of same-sex marriage, by efforts to provide immigrants with a path to citizenship, and to other legal and cultural changes perceived–primarily by white men– as diminishing the privileged status of white Christian Americans.

NPR recently reported on the rise in hate crimes during 2015.

Hate crimes in 2015 were more than 6 percent more frequent than they were in 2014, with a two-thirds increase in religiously motivated attacks against Muslims.

The FBI’s Hate Crimes Statistics, 2015 report tallied more than 5,850 hate crime incidents in 2015.

Motivations for hate crime incidents, 2015: 56.9 percent were motivated by a race/ethnicity/ancestry bias. 21.4 percent were prompted by religious bias. 18.1 percent resulted from sexual-orientation bias. 2.0 percent were motivated by gender-identity bias. 1.3 percent were prompted by disability bias. 0.4 percent (23 incidents) were motivated by a gender bias.

Most of those — 56.9 percent — were racially motivated, with more than half of race-based attacks targeting African-Americans.

But religiously motivated attacks were a growing share of the tally. Incidents of religious hate crimes rose by nearly 23 percent compared to 2014.

Most hate crimes based on religion targeted Jewish people; anti-Semitic attacks were up more than 9 percent compared to 2014.

Since the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 60 percent of hate crimes are never reported to police, the actual incidence of bias crime is undoubtedly much higher than these statistics suggest.

I’m sure social scientists and mental health professionals have explanations for the loss of civility and increasing nastiness of our times. There’s the disorientation that accompanies rapid social change, the stresses caused by economic uncertainty, the unattractive but very human need to find someone or some group to blame when life isn’t going well. There’s tribalism,  fear of difference, and resentment at perceived loss of status.

I understand that we Americans are never going to come together around the campfire, metaphorically speaking, and sing kumbaya. But we are at risk of losing important norms of mutual respect and civic equality–norms that (while admittedly more honored in the breach than in reality) we have long held to be essential to our national identity.

I keep thinking about Rodney King’s plaintive question, “Can’t we all just get along?”

The answer–at least as provided by those who voted for Trump– seems to be “evidently not.”

25 thoughts on “The Unraveling Begins….

  1. If you want to keep track of hate crimes keep in touch with the Southern Poverty Law Center.
    They are and have been doing something about hate in America. https://www.splcenter.org

    I am not sure mutual respect begins by defining our differences.

    Since the election I have attempted to hear those who I have considered racists and bigots and have realized that I need to relearn listening.

    There is no quick fix and I do understand that the solution and the problem is within me.

  2. Here in Florida I have seen a marked increase in confederate flags, and bumper stickers in the last 6 months, but more interesting the number of Trump bumper stickers have increased after the election . I fear for America .

  3. PLEASE read my last two comment on “The Looters Have Arrived” for Trump’s and Pence’s connection to the Council of Conservative Citizens (founded in 1985) which is a collaboration of the Ku Klux Klan and white supremist political agendas. This Council stems from the Citizens’Councils of America (1956) stemming from the White Citizens’ Councils (1954) founded to deprive all but white citizens of civil and human rights as stated in the Constitution. SCOTUS has added Citizens United Amendment and basically removed the Civil Rights Amendment to standardize and legalize these actions which are the basis of the Trump presidential campaign. The Council of Conservative Citizens is founded on the Sovereignty Commission agenda passed in southern states to uphold state’s rights without using the terms “integration” or “segregation” but replacing them with “encroachment” and “sovereignty” to slip through racist laws. Steve Bannon will lead the way for Trump’s and Pence’s administration with his ties to what is referred to as the Alt-Lite, a “hybrid of mainstream conservatism and the Alt-Right”.

    We must look to the ties of this election result to our own past history of “Jim Crow Laws” which will become our future but with the difference of Trump’s and Pence’s addition of entire groups of Americans in addition to African-American to rule in their dictatorship. It will deserve the title “Donald Trump Laws” to replace “Jim Crow Laws” of our past deplorable history of racism which flourishes yet today.

  4. The last time I took a look anti-semitic crimes dominated the list far ahead of any others, including those against Muslims; this is a long-standing trend when compared with any religious or ethnic group. Further in comparison, even at 5850 crimes for 2014 that is only about 20% of the highway death toll for that year. My point here is not to diminish the significance of hate-crime, but to suggest that Trump winning the presidency is the heralding of a triumph of bigotry rests on rather shaky logic.
    The other question–one I don’t know how to easily answer–is the question of the effectiveness of the laws on the books or the absence of such laws and/or the eagerness to prosecute such crimes.
    There was an incident involving a Muslim woman attacked by a university student that met with little court action (I don’t believe Indiana has a hate crime law) and mostly university/community embarrassment, that is little desire to do anything beyond cover the offending spot on the community map. In my experience that is pretty much the private response too. When hearing sexual, racial or ethnic disparagement, in most cases people just respond with embarrassment, as if the only thing that happened is a breach of etiquette. I confess I don’t know how to get around that kind of response. If you aggressively confront it, people act as if you have just violated their right to their own opinion. My loin here, however, is that I tend to believe that the law doesn’t have the effect it should because people as individuals (including those who frequently support the law) don’t want to stand up for what is right. How do you turn that around?

  5. Is this history repeating itself? Isn’t this what happened in Germany under Hitler’s hate filled encouragement?

  6. Shelia, I have been describing what you have so better described in your blog today as a potential loss of “social cohesion” arising from our failure to solve the problem of some forty years of wage stagnation, aka wage inequality. I cannot claim that I am the first to sound this alarm; both Piketty and Stiglitz discuss the possibility of such a loss at some length and what would probably follow. I have repeatedly described what would follow in terms of “Katie, bar the door,” by which I am trying to say that at least civil commotion is likely, if not worse.
    You have rightly expanded on my constant citation of the narrow wage problem by citing specific examples of additional flash points such as race and religion per those who keep count, and while I think that appropriate to describe the scene Trump has set for us, I think at bottom that wage inequality, race, religion and other such social and economic signposts are part and parcel of the same drag on social cohesion, and that Wall Street as well as Trump should be called to account for conditioning Americana to accept slave wages, ghettos, hatreds as normal etc. It seems that politicians and greedy capitalists have suckered us into believing that we deserve our fates; that patrimonial capitalism and meritocracy are congruent, that we should shut up and work harder. Such diversionary tactics will come to an end with the loss of social cohesion, and Trump’s stump call to civil unrest could well bear fruit – but in a direction he did not contemplate.

  7. Parenthetically, I note from the morning news that Castro has died. Yes, he was a communist, but was in any event a “strong leader,” as Trump has described Putin. Accordingly, and in view of the upcoming change in policy that places “strong leaders” ahead of our national interests, perhaps Trump (always aware of the theatrical) should attend Castro’s funeral.

  8. I wonder how many of these people are specialists. That is, are the Anti-Semites also racists? Are the Xenophobes also misogynists? How many of them are true misanthropes?

  9. Losing norms of civility and respect? Speaking from where I live in Tennessee those norms appear to be long gone in a large part of the population.

  10. I think that for many of us the quantum shift that we must adjust to is the move from progress to salvage operations.

    Clearly we are dependant on each other now and the democrats in Congress and a Supreme Court minority and I hope the Obama’s, Joe Biden and HRC to limit as much as humanly possible the backsliding into a third world banana republic defined by TrumPence and the band of toadies surrounding them and bowing down to power.

    This will not be easy but we are representing, like it or not, all of the good Americans who brought us to the peak that we are now sliding down from.

    There’s no guarantee that we can save the country but we must save the American Dream and the ideals of a progressive Democracy.

    Stronger together has to direct our efforts.

  11. “I understand that we Americans are never going to come together around the campfire, metaphorically speaking, and sing kumbaya. But we are at risk of losing important norms of mutual respect and civic equality–norms that (while admittedly more honored in the breach than in reality) we have long held to be essential to our national identity.”

    This is the glue that has held as country together through upheaval after upheaval and is so integral to our daily existence that we normally don’t even have to think about it. Now, we do however since all of this is being ripped away from what constitutes American society and American culture. We have got to find a way back from this at all costs or we are lost and that shining city on the hill that Ronald Reagan used to like to refer to as his vision for this country will be plowed under and totally forgotten. I have to note that I normally don’t quote Ronald Reagan but his brief statement came from what he saw as the essential goodness of our culture and our people.

    How on earth have we allowed ourselves to come to this point and why would any sensible person through his own works set this all in motion? What is wrong with us where we are content with continually moving the goalposts of what it is considered as right and wrong further and further toward where such distinctions are rapidly becoming meaningless?

    My late father, who was a teenager during The Great Depression, used to tell me that someday this country would fall. While his words always stuck in my mind I never really believed that such an outcome would happen to us. Some of his thoughts on this probably also reflected what he saw with his own eyes as he fought his way across France, Belgium, Holland, and then into Germany. He saw great cultures and societies that were totally destroyed by war and what resulted from it. He, like most combat veterans of World War Two, came home to a country untouched by war and vowed as such a catastrophe would never occur here. We, their children, have let them all down, a very sad thing to contemplate.

    Very sorry for my ramblings but this is the most God awful mess anyone could ever think of. I just hope that all those propagandists on the right that peddled all this fear and hatred that underlies this catastrophe will at some point see the gross error in what they have inflicted upon this country since they will not be a immune to what they have wrought either.

  12. Tom; there are millions of Americans asking ourselves the same questions you posed. We didn’t recognize it or ignored the signs as Marv has often pointed out, especially regarding anti-Semitism. We are watching this country resurrect fascism and racism, rolled together into a new concept, to be ruled by an egotistical tyrant who is appointing his alter-egos to reign over their particular assigned area of issues. I recognized the racism but, was surprised yesterday when I researched the White Citizens’ Council while rereading about the assassination of Medgar Evans and found a link to Steve Bannon. The circle is closing tightly around us and there appears to be no stopping it and no way out.

  13. Thank you JoAnn,

    It may take something akin to what is happening out at Standing Rock right now where the American people stand up to this and use the methodology that Dr. Martin Luther King used to change this nation 50 years ago. It may come to that since even before the inauguration of Mr. Trump we are clearly on the wrong path with these racist, xenophobic and misogynist fools coming out of the woodwork all over the place. The virulence that these people exhibit is just astounding.

    What amazes me, and continues to amaze me, is that these people are Americans, they went to grade school, they went to high school, probably attended college and did not learn a freaking thing about their country and their role in it as citizens. It almost like we’re in an episode of The Walking Dead where the unthinking, uncompromising attitude of zombies is upon us. Obviously, I’m exaggerating and also trying to be a little humorous about it, but it’s like all these people have been convinced that the sky is purple when we know that it’s truly blue but we cannot convince them of that fact and as a result we are the odd men out in any conversations with them. Their alternative reality apparently doesn’t allow for any deviance from the prime directive that all the propagandists have created for them.

    All of this makes me wish that there was some sort of chip in my head that would activate and inform me that I’m really not from this planet and that my assignment of observing mankind is all over and that I can now go home and leave all this junk far behind.

    Nanoo, nanoo!!

  14. People often believe that this country is totally immune to disaster, and whatever happens things will turn out fine. That is naive. The founders of the nation didn’t believe that, and did everything they could to install fail safe mechanisms. But if people want a disaster, they can have it, because they get the kind of government they deserve, not what they fantasize. Good and stable government is possible, at best, when people work hard at it. Mr. Trump, the demagogue that he is, spread the fantasy that he was the messiah who would fix everything, and said he was going to “drain the swamp”, but instead is stocking it with crocodiles. He says he wants to make America great, but American could just as easily be a great disaster.

    This is an especially unfortunate time for the Trump phenomenon. The jobs issue is indeed a serious societal problem that needs to be addressed in a serious way, and it won’t be solved magically. Climate change is upon us as well as other pressing problems along with inequality and other threats to our society. This could be the perfect storm.

  15. Tom; funny you should mention “The Walking Dead”, I have been referring to Trump, Pence and the appointees as “Walkers” for days.

    But I join you in your sign off in peace; nanoo, nanoo

  16. Trump has vowed to operate his presidency around his fuhrer-style rallies that were the core of his candidacy. These rallies ONLY work with an enemy to target. They worked because he could whip up mob-hysteria around rabid frothing anger and hate. His crowds never screamed about any policies he presented. There were none. It was purely around their self-perceived “enemies” both in the arena — “…punch them in face” he would yell — and out of the arena “LOCK HER UP.” Today the ONLY disappointment is expressed by the dimwit cretins who really opine that Sec. Clinton should be arrested.

    TRUMP NEEDS ENEMIES or his appeal totally collapses. Be alert for the closest America has come in 240 years to an all-out fascist state.

  17. Keni, good points. We are fortunate, however, that Mr. Trump is not a slick and smooth politician with a specific agenda in mind. As an administrator, he is disorganized and thrives on chaos, characteristics that tend to be dysfunctional. He knows how to stir up the crowds as long as he has an identifiable, specific enemy agreed on by the majority, but unlike the Germans who were suffering en masse and vulnerable to Hitler’s nonsense, there are many people who gag at this guy and say so publicly, in writing and in their demonstrations. Many are in his own party. If he takes aim at big business and the top 1%, he’s walking a tightrope there. And the way his policies are going, it looks like he may even offend his supporters. At least we hope so.

  18. Think of it like this (useful oversimplification to follow). There are smart-good, smart-evil, and dumb people. The smart-evil manipulate the dumb to maintain power over all. The smart-good outnumber the smart-evil and have the power to stop them, but because they are good hesitate to exert power. Here is the key: the smart-evil have historically been the rulers of the world and will be always, by default, if the smart-good do not take action to stop them. We must act, or we consent to the rule of the smart-evil.

  19. A sad trait of human psyche is to defend even when one is proven wrong.
    When the people who voted for Trump (who naively thought “he canʻt be THAT bad”) are suffering along with the rest of us , they will invariably make all kinds of excuses for the Disasterous Duo of King Bigly Drumpf and Purtian Pence.

    Itʻs disheartening that approximately half of Americans fooled themselves into believing Don the Con has any interest in helping anyone but himself. His only motivation is to enrich himself and stoke his flaming, undisciplined ego.

    That said, I still believe that more than half of America is already singing Kumbaya around the campfire. We are not giving up, and we can watch out for and speak out for each other.

    Sheila, thanks again for telling it like it is. More than ever, we need places where we can hear truth and speak truth, away from the click-bait commercialized sensationalism of regular media. Iʻve been putting your posts on Facebk…we need to balance out the fake news.

  20. Oh darn, a typo…I meant “Puritan Pence” because of his holier-than-thou attitude.

  21. Trump has vowed to operate his presidency around his fuhrer-style rallies that were the core of his candidacy. These rallies ONLY work with an enemy to target. They worked because he could whip up mob-hysteria around rabid frothing anger and hate. His crowds never screamed about any policies he presented. There were none. It was purely around their self-perceived “enemies” both in the arena — “…punch them in face” he would yell — and out of the arena “LOCK HER UP.” Today the ONLY disappointment is expressed by the dimwit cretins who really opine that Sec. Clinton should be arrested.

    TRUMP NEEDS ENEMIES or his appeal totally collapses. Be alert for the closest America has come in 240 years to an all-out fascist state.

  22. Sorry I did not intend to post the same comment twice re Trump’s fuhrer-style rallies.

    But I do encourage everyone who is alarmed about the ascension of what clearly is an open-air kleptocracy – if short of the more brutal aspects of fascism – to sign onto the TRUMP ENEMIES LIST linked here. I am 5 months older than Trump and never thought the United States would descend to this level of bigotry, self-dealing, misogyny and multi-levels of hate. This is to be a global statement of contempt for the worst character traits of Humanity appearing in the persona of the POTUS: https://www.change.org/p/we-the-people-join-the-trump-enemies-list

Comments are closed.