The Trump Effect: The Continuous Rise of Hate Groups

Della Hasselle

 

Excerpt From Louisiana Weekly and republished by our content partner New America Media.

 

Just days after Heather Heyer was killed protesting a rally of white nationalists held in Charlottesville, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus announced fellow lawmakers would be discussing the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

 

Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., the caucus chairman, told reporters that lawmakers were outraged by the president’s remarks after the deadly Aug. 12 protest in Charlottesville, when Trump insisted there was evidence of hatred, bigotry and violence “on many sides” during the event.

 

According to reports, caucus members were set to decide whether Trump shows “pure competency and fitness to serve,” given his choice of words describing a highly charged melee organized by those who espouse white supremacist ideologies.

 

Since then, Trump has defended his Charlottesville responses. Two days after his initial statement, the president did specifically denounce extremists, calling racism “evil.” Then, omitting the “many sides” remarks during an August rally in Arizona, he blamed the “dishonest people in the media” for unfairly covering his responses.

 

“I hit them with ‘neo-Nazi.’ I hit them with everything,” Trump said during the Aug. 23 rally. “I got the ‘white supremacists,’ the ‘neo-Nazi.’ I got them all in there. Let’s see. KKK, we have KKK… I got them all.”

 

Not everybody had accused the president of giving hate groups a pass by prevaricating. Notably, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended the president’s response to the violence seen in Charlottesville.

 

Despite the debate over Trump’s reactions to Charlottesville, however, Richmond’s comments don’t come out of left field.

 

Caucus members and experts on hate groups have long worried about the president’s rhetoric on race and equality, and how his words appear to incite violence around the United States.

 

A week after Heyer was killed, Shuanise Washington, president and CEO of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Incorporated, underscored that the Southern Poverty Law Center counted over 1,800 incidents of hate or bias from the day Trump was elected on Nov. 9, 2016 to March 31, 2017.

 

The same group counted over 600 such incidents counted in schools throughout the nation, Washington noted, adding that the president’s evocation of “racism, hatred and intolerance” threatened to “corrupt the arc of progress” that had been made in America over the decades.

 

“Now, more than ever, the American people need reassurance in the values of liberty, unity, diversity and equality,” Washington said. “Regrettably, we have been subjected to flaccid remarks and morally bankrupt leadership.”

 

The numbers Washington cited only scratch the surface of the data collected by the SPLC. In February, the organization released a comprehensive “Intelligence Report” showing significant growth in the annual census of hate groups and other extremist organizations nationwide.

 

The SPLC found that the number of hate groups operating in 2016 rose to 917, up from 892 in two years prior. While the number remained 101 shy of the “all-time record” set in 2011, the organization called it “high by historic standards.”

 

Nor did the organization beat around the bush when pointing fingers at why the United States had seen a sharp increase in such organizations.

 

A black-and-white image of a shouting President Trump dominated the red Intelligence Report cover in large white letters read “THE YEAR IN HATE AND EXTREMISM.”

 

Underneath, the title read: “AFTER HALF A CENTURY, THE RADICAL RIGHT ENTERS THE MAINSTREAM.”

 

“2016 was an unprecedented year for hate,” said Mark Potok, senior fellow and editor of the Intelligence Report. “The country saw a resurgence of white nationalism that imperils the racial progress we’ve made, along with the rise of a president whose policies reflect the values of white nationalists.”

 

In an article called “The Trump Effect,” Potok claimed Trump had been inciting violence from the radical right since the early days of his campaign trail.

 

By example, Potok points to an early speech that referred to some Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers. Later, Trump said Muslims should be banned from coming into the country.

 

Trump has also turned heads by retweeting known white supremacist messages and seeming to encourage — or at least tolerate — violence against his opponents at rallies.

 

“The hatred, and the new energy of the white nationalist movement, were predictable results of the campaign Trump waged — a campaign marked by incendiary racial statements, the stoking of white racial resentment, and attacks on so-called “political correctness,” Potok added.

 

Since those campaign days, that rhetoric, the SPLC argues, has instigated others all over the United States, as shown in a state-by-state analysis of the number and type of hate groups released in the spring.

 

Describing the numbers, the SPLC said the country had seen “an explosive rise in the number of hate groups” since the turn of the century.

 

Excerpt From Louisiana Weekly and republished by our content partner New America Media. Read the rest of the article at Louisiana Weekly.

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