The United Hate of America

More hate crimes were carried out in the United States last year, with an uptick in incidents motivated by bias against Jews, Muslims and LGBT people, among others, according to new FBI data released Monday

The Washington Post

11/13/17

The United Hate of America

It’s been a year since Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States after a blistering campaign which pundits say was less about “Making America Great Again” and more about making it safe to hate again.

Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b*tch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’”

And with that President Trump commandeered a protest aimed at highlighting racial injustice and police brutality in the U.S. for his self-interests.

What’s followed since Trump’s September speech in Alabama fuels the increasing political, social and racial divide in our country.

Among the storm of social media messages to the Take A Knee campaign was a woman throwing drinks at fans joining the demonstration at a Los Angeles Lakers preseason game.

Savannah Sugg posted the video of the incident she recorded on Twitter and wrote, “Take a kneel for the land of the slaves. Disrespect our flag and our country and that’s how we’ll react.”

Divisiveness in sports is often a debate about why “my team is better than yours.” It’s disheartening to see sports drawn into the national ideological tug-of-war.

#HATE

A few weeks back a close family member posted a meme with the headline: Hate is all you have “LEFT.”

My argument was that without context, the picture alone did not reveal the true nature of that situation.

The meme’s caption certainly sought to frame it as yet another example of an “angry black man/woman” disrespecting authority under the guise of being “oppressed.”

In the thread I suggested that it was impossible to know if the woman was reacting to something the police officer did or said or for that matter if the woman was flipping the bird unprovoked.

A spirited debate quickly turned into a verbal assault by a virtual mob who condemned me for “liberal bulls**t”, “Get over it cry baby, TRUMP is PRESIDENT”, and other colorful epithets questioning

my patriotism and respect for law enforcement.

Complex social issues require deep dialogue and should not be reduced to hashtags, caption character limits or memes.

Enabling Hate

The way we communicate is increasingly more digital and there’s no more powerful pipeline than social media where the liking and sharing of posts is the ultimate validation of one’s beliefs.

Jared Yates Sexton, a New York Times contributor, was the target of threatening messages this summer after he outed user “Han***holeSolo”, who has a history of online hate speech and published an anti-CNN GIF that was shared by president Trump.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism analyzed the user’s Reddit account and discovered “an 18-month record of vile comments and memes against Muslims, African-Americans, Jews and others.”

In an interview with HuffPost, Sexton criticized the president for sharing the video, “he has sent a clear message that such behavior is acceptable.”

In another troubling incident, a lecturer at the University of Maryland received a flurry of expletive-ridden attacks after arguing that Christopher Columbus “laid the map” for what was to become the international slave trade. That comment and others made by Jason Nichols, a guest at a cable news program prompted a racist voicemail. In the 9-minute rant, an unidentified woman is heard saying, “This f**king n***er, you n***ers are not gonna be satisfied until you change every f**king piece of s**t holiday to n***er day.”

The woman also referenced the national anthem protests, suggesting NFL players should “Get off your fucking knee. You should be kneeling for the security people who are there to help the fucking nigger athletes, who protect them.”

She finished by saying, “It’s about time you hear it from us white people. A lot of white people feel like I do.”

It would be irresponsible to dismiss the voicemail as an anomaly, when this type of hate is so prevalent in social media.

The State of Hate

In a recent study, SafeHome.org found the presence of hate groups ranging from “white supremacy to anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT, not only grew online in 2016, but they also amassed more likes in 2016 than any year since 2008.”

The study also found that anti-immigrant organizations were the most popular on Twitter followed by anti-Muslim, anti-LGBT, black separatists, white supremacists and anti-Semitics.

The Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism revealed that hate crimes rose by 20% last year triggered by the presidential election campaign. Nearly 900 incidents of hate or bias in the days after the election of Trump were reported by The Southern Poverty Law Center.

Experts say many hate crimes go unreported due to laws varying from state to state (5 don’t have hate crime laws) and discrepancies between government agencies which measure the number of incidents. The unreliable data comes mainly from voluntary reports from local law enforcement.

The Department of Justice hate crime report found that approximately a third of victims (2011-2015) were targeted because of their ethnicity; 29% cited their gender. The report also found that 48% of hate crimes were due to racial bias.

Staying quiet is simply not an option. Silence is often misinterpreted as acceptance or worse, the approval of an act.

Treating Hate

I was reminded of the growing protest Colin Kaepernick started during the national anthem at my son’s soccer game. Players from both teams took a knee when coaches ran onto the field after an 11-year old boy was hurt during a rough play. The gesture was a sign of respect for the injured player.

African Americans, like many disenfranchised groups, are suffering through racial injustices including abuses in the criminal justice system. Taking a knee isn’t an act of disrespect, but an acknowledgment that there’s an injury on the field in our country which needs immediate attention.

This article first appeared in November 2017 on allthat.tv

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