Has There Really Been A Surge In Hate Crimes Since Donald Trump's Election?
Short answer: yes.
If you're a liberal-leaning blue-voting Democrat, your Facebook feed is probably filled with horrific stories of absue and violence hurled at various minorities since Wednesday morning. Muslims have had their headscarves pulled off, Latinx people have been yelled at about walls, gays have been bashed. These instances are becoming frighteningly common, so much so that sites like WhyWereAfraid have begun to pop up on Tumblr, collecting the daily nightmares of abuses against non-whites, women, and queer people since last week. But it's getting hard to tell to what extent the election has impacted Americans' attitudes about hate speech and hate crimes only from anecdotes. Has there really been a huge upswing in xenophobic crimes following the election of Donald Trump?
Most evidence points to yes. "Since the election, we've seen a big uptick in incidents of vandalism, threats, intimidation spurred by the rhetoric surrounding Mr. Trump's election," Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center (a nonprofit legal advocacy organization specializing in civil rights) in Montgomery, Ala., told USA TODAY. "The white supremacists out there are celebrating his victory and many are feeling their oats," Cohen said.
"We have seen [Ku Klux] Klan literature drops, we have seen that suicide hotlines are ringing off the hook, and we are hearing of very extensive bullying in and around schools," added Mark Potok, an SPLC senior fellow, to NBC.
"It's kind of a very tense time for the American Muslim community and people are really anxious about the future," added Ibrahim Hooper more cautiously, communications director for the Council on American Islamic Relations. "I would call it a spike but it's too early to quantify."
While experts in the field are noticing somewhat of a surge, statistical data on the crimes is hard to come by. There are two, somewhat obvious reasons for this 1) The election just happened, meaning there hasn't been enough time to put together real numbers on this and 2) The people who are being victimized are probably not very likely to report incidences due to police mistrust. The aforementioned Southern Poverty Law Center has done some of this difficult data collecting by documenting and verifying over 200 hate-feuled incidences since the election.
Yet despite mounting evidence of the crime rash, many continue to deny its very existence. There are valid counter-arguments to this phenomenon. Hoaxes are plentiful, as noted by BBC news. And social media is partially to blame for the false spread of information: "Old stories about hate crimes and assaults against minorities are making the rounds on social media, masquerading as breaking news," they added.
But ultimately, whether you believe in the crime spike or not will depend on your political inclinations. Those on the right will say that these are isolated incidents or totally fake in order to perpetuate the narrative that the current president-elect has not encouraged a regime of xenophobia. Those on the left will insist on the importance of believing the narratives of victimization to feul the mounting resistances against said regime. Analyzing this too much puts anyone in a dangerous political position: suddenly one becomes entangled in the rhetoric of false flag operations.
Nonetheless, the fact that reports of incidences continue to pour in can't be ignored — nor can the palpable fear of minority communities.
[Photo: Getty Images]