We all know that Donald Trump likes to hear himself talk and hold rallies to fawning crowds, but his constant hateful rhetoric and pro-white supremacist statements matter more than people think. The Washington Post has found hate crimes in counties where Trump has held his rallies have more than tripled.
Does Trump’s political rhetoric have a measurable link to reported hate crime and extremist activity?
We examined this question, given that so many politicians and pundits accuse Trump of emboldening white nationalists. White nationalist leaders seem to agree, as leaders including Richard Spencer and David Duke have publicly supported Trump’s candidacy and presidency, even if they still criticize him for not going far enough. The New Zealand shooter even referred to Trump as a “renewed symbol of white identity.”
So, do attitudes like these have real world consequences? Recent research on far-right groups suggests that they do, especially when these attitudes are embraced and encourage by peers. Specifically, the quantity of neo-Nazi and racist skinheadgroups active in a state leads to increased reports of hate crimes within that state.
Using the Anti-Defamation League’s Hate, Extremism, Anti-Semitism, Terrorism map data (HEAT map), we examined whether there was a correlation between the counties that hosted one of Trump’s 275 presidential campaign rallies in 2016 and increased incidents of hate crimes in subsequent months.
To test this, we aggregated hate-crime incident data and Trump rally data to the county level and then used statistical tools to estimate a rally’s impact. We included controls for factors such as the county’s crime rates, its number of active hate groups, its minority populations, its percentage with college educations, its location in the country and the month when the rallies occurred.
We found that counties that had hosted a 2016 Trump campaign rally saw a 226 percent increase in reported hate crimes over comparable counties that did not host such a rally.
Of course, our analysis cannot be certain it was Trump’s campaign rally rhetoric that caused people to commit more hate crimes in the host county. However, suggestions that this effect can be explained through a plethora of faux hate crimes are at best unrealistic. In fact, this charge is frequently used as a political tool to dismiss concerns about hate crimes. Research shows it is far more likely that hate crime statistics are considerably lower because of underreporting.
Additionally, it is hard to discount a “Trump effect” when a considerable number of these reported hate crimes reference Trump. According to the ADL’s 2016 data, these incidents included vandalism, intimidation and assault.
What’s more, according to the FBI’s Universal Crime report in 2017, reported hate crimes increased 17 percent over 2016. Recent research also shows that reading or hearing Trump’s statements of bias against particular groups makes people more likely to write offensive things about the groups he targets.
Even if your argument is that correlation does not equal causation, Trump still shouldn't be publicly saying the things he does as leader of America.
On top of all that however, the evidence is pretty strong that Trump causes bad things to happen, and hey, let's not pretend that it isn't happening right now.
A 17-year-old male was arrested over race-based threats against the Charlottesville school system, local police say.
The Virginia city's public schools were closed for two days -- Thursday and Friday -- in light of the threats that were made online.
Charlottesville police announced Friday they had arrested a juvenile in connection to the online threats. He is being charged with one felony and one misdemeanor.
The police gave few details about the threats in question, announcing only that they were alerted to the "biased-based language targeting specific ethnic groups" at the public high school on Wednesday afternoon.
At a subsequent news conference, Charlottesville City Schools superintendent Rosa Atkins said that the teen was not a student at the school.
She said that the individual was "a person who is not a part of the Charlottesville school system and community" and added that he made the "hateful threat... under the guise of being a Charlottesville high school student."
Rashall Brackney, the chief of the Charlottesville Police Department, said at the news conference that the threats "referenced ethnic cleansing."
The entire public school system -- which includes seven elementary schools, one middle school, one high school and one education program for young patients at the University of Virginia Children's Hospital -- was closed on Thursday and Friday.
But it's okay if Trump does it, right?