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.
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.”