To the editor:
There has been a significant rise in hate crimes in the past three years. These are crimes against persons and not property. The increase would appear to be fueled by the rise in hate groups. NPR reported on Feb. 20, that the Southern Poverty Law Center found a 30 percent increase in U.S. hate groups over the past four years and a 7 percent increase in hate groups in 2018 alone.
Some of the depressing statistics show that in 2018, as reported by the FBI, hate crimes reached a 16-year high. It wasn’t a uniform increase, because the largest impact was against Latinos and transgender people whose attacks spiked by 41 percent.
Interestingly enough, according to the Associated Press on Aug. 7, the violent clash between white supremacists and counter protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia – when Mr. Trump infamously said there were some very fine people on both sides – led to reported hate crimes nationally increasing to 663 incidents, the second-highest tally in nearly a decade. That was surpassed only by the month of November 2016 surrounding the rancorous presidential race won by Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton, when reported hate crimes nationally soared to 758 incidents.
Last evening I was saddened by the NBC News broadcast featuring Elizabeth Smart. You will remember that as a 14-year-old in 2002 she was abducted from her home near Salt Lake City and imprisoned nine months by a crazed pair who sexually abused her. The report detailed an assault she recently suffered on an airplane flight when she was awakened to find a man groping her inner thigh. She asked why this was happening to her again. It fits a pattern, as FBI statistics show a 66 percent increase in sexual assaults on airplanes over the past three years.
Perhaps the lines are drawn but unclear. We can hope that the reason for the increased crimes against Latinos has nothing to do with Mr. Trump’s famous ride down the golden escalator ending with his description of Mexican immigrants as, “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.”
Perhaps his acknowledgment that there are very fine people among neo-Nazis and white supremacists did not lead to the large increase in hate groups.
Perhaps his famous brag that he grabs women by their private parts (I’m using a different euphemism than he did) because when you’re a star they let you do it, did not lead to the large increase in sexual assaults.
Perhaps we should cut the man some slack when he doubts the wrenching, heart-felt declaration by Mitt Romney about how his faith required him to reveal what was really in his heart. Maybe we should look the other way when he comes up with a derogatory nickname for his latest hated person. Maybe we should not pay attention when he derides the next Republican who doesn’t whole-heartedly endorse whatever norm-breaking thing he does in his own interest.
Perhaps we should nod sagely and intone, “That’s just Trump being Trump”, and forget about the consequences of his words and actions. I just hope we have a country here when we finally pull our heads out of the sand.