Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Inflating the Hate

Although reported hate crimes have indeed been creeping up in the era of Donald Trump, they have yet to reach the levels in the years immediately following the 9/11 attacks of 2001. There has, however, been a sharp increase in anti-Muslim attacks since Trump's election.

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.


Jamiie said...

The Southern Poverty Law Center is just a neoliberal tool to harass DNC political opponents. They are the hate group -- for calling the goofy guys at the family research counsel a hate groups. No one will believe them now if they uncover real hate groups (think KKK, Nazis). It seems that snowflakes want to destroy any world view that contradicts with the one pounded into their head by the neoliberal capitalist superstructure.

Snowflakes are such tools for American fascism. They openly want to abolish the first amendment, along with second amendment. Of course they have no respect for the fourth amendment since Obama spied on his political opponents and the press, along with claiming the legal right to kill anyone without judicial oversight or even an indictment.

Snowflakes are driving the ruling class into ecstasy! Their fake concern for racial equality, while they tolerated a president that armed Nazi's in the Ukraine; their fake concern for deportations, when their idol Obama deported more people than any president in history. The ruling class is just using these hate-filled bankrupt liberals to divide the working class by race.

The Portland shooter was a Bernie supporter and he voted for Jill Stein. Another hate-filled fascist liberal lie, down the drain. A lie only designed to divide the people by race and further blind them to their real oppressors.

Here is some white hate for all you snowflakes:

"Can't we just drone this guy?"

- Crooked Hillary on Assange

Here is some good old Democratic Party bigotry for you:

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

- Crazy Uncle Joe Biden

Here is an article for you snowflakes, regarding Obama's arming of Nazi groups in the Ukraine:

Stop making fools of yourself! Obama armed Nazi groups and deported more immigrants than any president in history. You're whole racist Trump / Hitler mime is a joke!

"Who would have thought it? I'm really good at killing people."

- Obama on 'Terror Tuesday'

Blanche Neige said...

Re the Portland shooter being a Bernie/Stein supporter:

I did think it was kind of strange that this guy settled down in Portlandia, of all places! Especially since coastal Oregon normally gets a lot of rain and very little actual snow. Maybe his court-appointed psychiatrist will diagnose him as a chronic flake so that he can then plead not guilty by reason of severe ideology confusion syndrome.

Re Southern Poverty Law Center

They did a lot of good when they first started out. At least they still take the trouble to collect newspaper clippings and compile lists... which we should then feel free to read, question and challenge conclusions as necessary.

Zee said...

I guess that I have to object to the notion of “hate crimes” altogether.

As both Jamie and Blanche Neige have more-or-less pointed out, those who commit so-called “hate crimes” are often deeply mentally ill and terribly confused “politically”— i.e., internally inconsistent from day to day owing to their illness—just as they are “confused” about everything else.

Thus, special interest groups can almost always find whatever exemplar of “hate” that they care to find in the many and varied scribblings and rantings of these sick people, in order to prove that THEY —be THEY Muslims, Jews, homosexuals, “people of color” or whatever—were the group especially singled out for violent “hate crimes” by these poor, sick people.

“Hate crimes” are pretty much a pure fiction, proof for which often relies upon getting into the head of a delusional, paranoid schizophrenic whose fears vary from day to day. Even a trained and skilled psychologist/psychiatrist would have a hard time unraveling THAT Gordian knot.

We already have a plethora of laws that aim to prevent or punish crimes against people and property, regardless of underlying motive. That should be enough.

Why add a layer of psychoanalytical voodoo to try to understand crimes that often have no deeper causation than “the voices told me to kill these [Muslim, Jewish, gay, black, cops, “fill-in-the-blank”] people right now ?”

Finally, I think that the “hate crime study” thing has become something of a self-perpetuating cottage industry.

There are plenty of accusations that the Southern Law Poverty Center is simply a “profit center” for Mo Dees and his compadres:

I found it very interesting that at the very conclusion of Prof. Levin’s report—to which Karen provided a link—the good professor urges that:

[Reporting of hate crimes] by law enforcement [be made] mandatory and tied to [Federal?] funding

Gotta keep that Federal funding flowing!

I wonder how Prof. Levin feels about the withholding of federal funds from cities/counties/states who refuse to coƶperate with the Feds on other matters, say, “sanctuary cities/counties/states?”

What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, no?