The Rise of Hate Crimes in Post Election America

By Adeline Tao
On November 30, 2016

Photo courtesy of Jasn, Flickr

The recent presidential race was very close, and once the results were announced, the shockwaves could be felt all over America. Many are ecstatic, but just as many, if not more, are petrified of a Donald Trump presidency.

Even before Election Day, those in the anti-Trump movement were wary of the president-elect because his words were not very conventional; they were offensive, tactless and arrogant. Every time he opened his mouth, his remarks reeked of racism, sexism and Islamophobia. What was even more shocking was that his supporters seemed to absorb all of this up. Vehemently supporting him, they also supported his disturbing opinions.

And that is what anti-Trump movement was scared of - an America where some feel it is ok to voice hatred about others. Since Nov. 9, the fear has materialized in places throughout the country.

The Southern Poverty Law Center counted more than 700 cases of hateful speech or intimidation occurring in the country in the week following the election. Overall, hate crimes have increased 6 percent this whole year said U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. That number seems to only be getting higher this month.

Examples of these alarming hate crimes are gut-wrenching. From spray-painted graffiti of swastikas to scratches in cars writing out “Trump” and “Go home” to vandalized Muslim prayer rooms. It’s happening in our neighborhoods, parks and schools. Children and adults witness these public displays of hate and they cannot be disregarded.

Trump did, at least, address these grievances some of his supporters were committing. To CBS’ 60 Minutes he said, “If it helps, I will say this, and I will say it right to the cameras: Stop it.”

Is that it?

This problem is not comparable to scolding a toddler caught stealing a cookie. The President can’t just say “Stop it” to a country of more than 300 million people. Who will actually take that seriously?

Now that he is President-elect, he has greater responsibility for his actions. Trump should realize that his words hold greater effect to certain people than he anticipated, and those people are truly acting on the xenophobic, self-important attitude that has saturated his campaign.

President Obama can try his best to ameliorate the current state of the Union with speeches and policies but, the unfortunate truth of the matter is, these hateful people will not listen anymore. Now, they are no longer holding themselves back. Trump being elected was an invitation for them to show their true colors. Policies can be strict and unforgiving, but these people will simply find a secret way around to spew their hate.

It’s up to us then, to stop this hate. We’re the people on the street that a hurt civilian will look to when their house is spray-painted with the words, “Make America White Again.”  Uber passengers have posted stories online of their Muslim driver being assaulted. Students have come together to walk a black woman from her class after she was assaulted the previous week.

 

Although this may sound cheesy, I truly believe that the world is made up of more good than evil. And I know that it feels like the opposite right now, but that is just more reason for us to rise up. Spread love – don’t get combative.
 
Amber Timmons, a transgender woman, had a swastika and the words “Trump” and “die” spray-painted on her car. But her message to the vandals is one of utmost respect and maturity: “It's OK,” she said. "It was done out of fear. That's what hate is. Hate is fear. And we can fix that fear by love. It's OK. I forgive them."

Trump’s America is a reality. Be the better, stronger person and rise up and spread love; you will see how America is already that great country you belong to.  

atao@ramapo.edu

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