Hate groups are on the rise across America, and, according to The Southern Poverty Law Center, President Donald Trump is largely responsible for racists becoming more emboldened – and more violent.
The number of hate groups rose to 953 in 2017, from 917 in 2016, according to The Southern Poverty Law Center. Within the white supremacist movement, research shows, neo-Nazi groups saw the greatest growth – soaring by 22 percent. Anti-Muslim groups also rose for a third straight year.
Consider the violence: An investigation by The Southern Poverty Law Center found that 43 people were killed and 67 wounded by men associated with the alt-right (right-wing extremists) over the past four years and 17 deaths occurred in 2017.
“President Trump’s campaign and presidency have energized the white supremacist movement in unprecedented ways,” according to The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes across America.
“We saw it in the support he received from the likes of David Duke during his campaign. We saw it in the surge in hate crimes committed in his name after his election. And we saw it in the deadly gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville,” The Southern Poverty Law Center says on its website.
The situation has become so serious that Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the expected incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to top Trump administration officials putting them on notice: Democrats plan to investigate the rise in hate crimes and how Trump’s policies and rhetoric may be bolstering racist groups.
“There appears to be a politically driven effort to diminish programs that empower communities to counter the influence of extremist ideology,” Nadler wrote to acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. “Reporting also suggests that the Administration remains focused on targeting specific racial and ethnic minorities as the suspected main sources of domestic terrorism.”
Almost daily, it seems, whites are calling the police on innocent and unsuspecting African-American citizens for no apparent reason. And the scenario is always the same: The police show up after a bogus call, they determine no crime was committed, and the puzzled and frustrated Black person is free to go.
Just recently, a viral video shows a public school librarian in Prince George’s County, Maryland, admitting to yelling the N-word at an African-American man in a Wal-Mart parking lot.
Dawn Tolson-Hightower posted a video on Facebook in which she asks the white woman, “Did you just call my husband the N word?”
And the woman boldly responds, “Yeah, I did.”
And last week, in a photo that went viral, a group of 50 young white men of Baraboo, Wisconsin stood on the steps of the county courthouse performing Nazi salutes. The post contained a caption: “We even got the black kid to throw it up.” Lifting their right arms above their head, the group mimicked the ‘Sieg Heil’ sign from Hitler’s Germany.
And this year, a stunning number of self-described white nationalists ran for local, state, and national offices across America and boasted their support for Trump.
“President Trump’s first year in office proved to be just as racially divisive as his campaign — but even more consequential,” according to The Southern Poverty Law Center’s website.
“At this point, it’s not enough for Trump simply to condemn bigotry,” the website said. “He must take responsibility for the surge in white supremacy and hate that he has unleashed.”
The Center called on Trump to fire the remaining white nationalist sympathizers in his administration apologize for energizing the radical right by running a racist and xenophobic campaign; take concrete action to undo the harm he has caused, starting with a directive to federal agencies to take the danger of white supremacy seriously.
The Southern Poverty Law Center also cited several key points that tie Trump to white supremacists.
* Trump appointed key administration advisers with ties to the radical right, including Stephen Bannon, the head of Breitbart News who boasted of turning the website into “the platform for the alt-right.”
* Reinvigorated white supremacists staged their largest rally in a decade – the demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left an anti-racist counter-protester dead and Trump equivocating over condemning racism. Former Klan boss David Duke called the rally a “turning point” and vowed that white supremacists would “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump” to “take our country back.”
* White supremacist groups ramped up their recruiting of college students. White nationalist leader Richard Spencer – who previously had prompted Nazi salutes from a post-election audience in Washington when he shouted “Hail Trump” – held a rally at the Lincoln Memorial and appeared on college campuses. The SPLC documented some 300 incidents of racist flyers being distributed on more than 200 campuses.
“President Trump in 2017 reflected what white supremacist groups want to see: a country where racism is sanctioned by the highest office, immigrants are given the boot and Muslims banned,” Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, said in a statement. “When you consider that only days into 2018, Trump called African countries ‘shitholes,’ it’s clear he’s not changing his tune. And that’s music to the ears of white supremacists.”
Meanwhile, the hate continues.
What do you think?
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