The Southern Poverty Law Center released a report this Wednesday revealing there are 1,020 hate groups in America. This number has increased by 30% over the last four years during what is commonly considered the “Trump era.” An interactive “hate map” on SPLC’s site shows the rise in radical and extremist groups and the numbers are expected to increase under the remainder of Trump’s presidency. The reality of today’s current social climate is frightening. And even the bluest of blue states, like New York, are witnessing emboldened racists. I don’t have to look further than my own liberal backyard of Brooklyn to see how insidious and far reaching Trump’s MAGA red wave has been; uprooting deeply seated racist beliefs this country was literally built on and forcing them to the surface.
Everyday we ask ourselves, “how did this happen?” How did Trump sweep the polls by campaigning with such divisive and toxic rhetoric in the so-called Melting Pot that is America? Trump’s dangerous hyperbole and dog whistling dates back long before the start of his “Make America Great Again” campaign, but his rallies really showcase what an expert he is at stoking racists throughout our country and successfully giving them the backbone and ammunition they’ve long desired to express their discontent over the shift in America’s demographics over the years. The fear of a “white genocide” and becoming the minority in America has hate groups, including but not limited to the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, and violent rallying white nationalists agitated and desperately seeking new recruits.
In every way possible, Trump has blatantly played into race baiting, from his Presidential Campaign Launch speech and his promise that building a wall across our southern border to keep the Mexican “savages” and “rapists” off our turf, will make our country “great” again, securing safety, establishing more jobs for American (born) people, and most important, “keeping out” the very demographic that white nationalists are afraid of thriving. Not only has Trump used racism as a vehicle to encourage his supporters with the falsified hope of expanding the job market, Trump famously encourages violence at his rallies where his supporters are encouraged to vilify anyone who doesn’t support Trump or MAGA. It’s of no surprise to those resisting taking our country back to Jim Crow that there is an alarming increase of hate groups and that FBI statistics show hate crimes have increased. Lynching only just became a hate crime this month and as Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, so aptly points out in his piece on Jussie and Hate Crimes for CNN.com there are still states with no hate crime laws.
When Jussie Smollett announced he was a victim of a hate crime by MAGA supporters, claims that included a physical altercation, racial and homophobic slurs, a noose around his neck, bleach, and someone screaming “Make America Great Again!”, his accusation was both persuasive and plausible. It’s not like we haven’t been steadily reading headline after headline featuring angry and violent Trump supporters since 2016. Jussie’s alleged attack was par for the course to many and deserved to be considered seriously. But as the Chicago Police Department’s investigation into his “attack” produced more evidence contradicting his claims rather than substantiating them, we’ve all witnessed an insurmountable outpour of disappointment from Smollett’s fans and hate crime survivors.
As you can imagine, this was exactly what Conservatives prayed and hoped for in MAGA America. Gloating comments showered the media from popular Trump supporters. Trump, who didn’t comment on the attack for some time when it was initially reported wasted no time taking to Twitter to share his opinion after Smollett was charged for a false report. Trump’s tweet specifically scolded Smollett for how racist and “dangerous” it was of him to fake an attack and blame it on MAGA supporters. Although what Jussie did, if he did indeed fake the attack, was inexcusable, Trump and his fanatical supporters are typically deafeningly silent when it is time to make mention of the nationwide hate crimes that ARE not a hoax and are committed by dangerous domestic terrorists known as white supremacists or by racist MAGA supporters. In fact Trump and many of his supporters have been eerily quiet on the case of a self admitted white nationalist coast guard officer who was recently arrested and had been plotting a domestic terrorist attack targeting democrats and the media, people Trump and his supporters routinely go after.
The excessively ignorant, already blind-leading-the-blind Trump supporters and racists have the laughable audacity to push the narrative that what Smollett did was common place of not only liberals, but also of people of color and the LGBTQ community who pull the race or homophobia card to play victim. Kaya Jones tweeted, “Again law enforcement doing a great job in catching this racist hate crime. Thank you Chicago, PD!” Yet, what MAGA supporters who share sentiments like Kaya’s conveniently leave out is the reality of hate crimes, and police brutality that disproportionately finds minorities on the receiving end, perpetrated against people of color and the LGBTQ. The Jussie Smollett hoax is not the norm, but merely the exception to the homegrown hate Trump has pumped into the minds of his defenders to alienate pretty much anyone non-white. The verifiable truth, backed by the SPLC latest report, only proves that the growth of radical white extremist hate groups in America under Trump is what has successfully divided the nation, not the rare case of Jussie Smollett.
Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images
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