These are the findings of California State University-San Bernardino's Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. Director Brian Levin has compiled statistics showing that reported hate crimes - defined as attacks based upon race or ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, religion or disability - increased last year by an average of 6% in the largest American cities surveyed.
Viewed separately, however, the increases during the presidential campaign year were 20% in Chicago, 24% in New York City, 15% in Los Angeles, 50% in Philadelphia - and a whopping 62% in Washington, D.C. Levin says its still too early to study hate crime data during the first few months of Trump's actual administration. The FBI will not release its own 2017 data until November.
Even before Trump started getting nonstop television coverage at his hate-spewing campaign rallies, the hate crimes were starting to increase in the United States. Levin reports that religion targeted crime had already increased dramatically beginning in 2015, reaching its highest level since reporting began in the early 1990s. By 2012, the percentage of crimes motivated by religious bias had already tripled from 2002. The actual number of these crimes was listed at 1,244 incidents for 2015, an increase of 30 from the previous year.
Levin cautions that the reporting of hate crimes is inherently fraught, given discrepancies in definition and the lack of cooperation in reporting them from various individual police agencies across the United States. Participation in the reporting system is purely voluntary. One jurisdiction's hate crime can be another jurisdiction's garden variety violent crime.
Relatively few hate crimes are committed directly upon people. Only 15% of them constitute violent assaults causing severe bodily injury to human beings. Most of them are vandalism-related crimes against property, which have skyrocketed in recent years. Most perps prefer to operate under cover of darkness, leading to the conclusion that hate criminals are abject cowards.
The Southern Poverty Law Center began compiling news reports of bias attacks immediately following the election of Donald Trump. Out of 1,094 incidents, 315 were directed at immigrants, 221 at African-Americans, 112 at Muslims and 26 against Trump supporters.
For its part, the Council on American-Islamic Relations reported 2,216 bias "incidents" in 2016 (an increase of 57% from the previous year) and 260 actual crimes (a 44% increase from 2015). The most recent was an arson attack last night on a Muslim-owned convenience store in San Antonio, Texas.
The general consensus among the news media is that Donald Trump has made it safe for Americans to act out their aggressions again. The Memorial Day weekend news was replete with one horrific hate crime after the other. Most notable was a deranged white supremacist slaughtering two Good Samaritans trying to defend a hijab-wearing woman on a Portland, Oregon train.
Of course, the hate was simmering, if not bubbling over in regular volcanic eruptions, long before Trump began braying out his message to the nation with the delighted assistance of profit-driven cable "news" channels. Donald Trump is just one of many facilitators in this Land of Peace and Plenty - especially now that's he's been gifted with the bully pulpit of 140 Tweeted characters direct from the Oval Office Emporium.
So, the very same media-political-war complex whose longstanding motto is "if it bleeds, it leads," is now purporting to be shocked, shocked there is so much unsanctioned, freelance violence going on around here. We were supposed to keep our hatred under wraps and allow our betters to vicariously satisfy us with violent entertainment. Now that people are taking such matters into their own hands and daring to emulate and to take the Trump Reality Show so literally is cause for great alarm.
The establishment seems to be losing its power to keep the citizenry contained. As Peter Gay writes in The Cultivation of Hatred, the function of national political leaders historically has been maintaining civic docility, obedience and above all, distraction.
If one could capture children, students, apprentices, even criminals in the silken chains of guilt feelings,if one could fabricate submissive love for authority figures, the heavy artillery of harsh punishments could be profitably replaced by the subtler and cleaner methods of psychological warfare. The bourgeois conscience was a fraud waiting to be unmasked.... humanitarian style, anxious to bring pugnacity to heel, was only a cover for economic greed, political self-interest and imperialistic lust for domination.People are gazing upon their bellicose leaders and simultaneously refuting them and emulating them. The nostrum "Do as we say and not as we do" is losing its appeal, given how both Trump and his bellicose predecessors from both parties did nothing to assuage the free-floating anxiety and anger unleashed by the most extreme wealth inequality in modern global history. Only a very thin line separates the so-called homegrown terrorists of America from their mirror-image compatriots of ISIS. As Pankaj Mishra writes in Age of Anger: A History of the Present,
Trump and his supporters in the world's richest country are no less the dramatic symptom of a general crisis of legitimacy than those terrorists who plan and inspired mass violence by exploiting the channels of global integration. The appeal of formal and informal secessionism - the possibility, broadly, of greater control over one's life - has grown all over the world. The response of rulers is more fear mongering against Others.
Primitive regressive role model that he is, Donald Trump provides the perfect excuse for lashing out, at anybody and everybody. In the words of Peter Gay:
The liberal temper is so precarious because it is steadily under pressure from more primitive demands--for quick decisions, simple answers, forceful action, above all instant gratification. The threat--for most, the promise of--regression lurks everywhere. Most people find that hitting out, whether calculated or spontaneous, yields greater satisfactions than holding in, at least in the short run; smiting the other's cheek is more delightful than turning one's own.Trump is the living antithesis of the liberal aggression so long controlled and hidden beneath vicarious violent entertainment on the one hand, and empty platitudinous happy-talk on the other. He is the opposite of a safety valve.
His boilerplate critique of the Portland train stabbings could not have been more anodyne. "Unacceptable," he grudgingly Tweeted a full two days after the attack, adding the obligatory thoughts and prayers required of all bomb-dropping presidents whose assigned task is urging people to do as they say, and not as they do.