Incidents of hate in its many forms have been documented on an annual basis in the U.S. for many years. In recent years, the increase in the number and intensity of incidents reported has been significant. This is illustrated in recent reports by three organizations established to counter hate in our society.
ADL – The Anti-Defamation League
Established more than a century ago, the ADL’s mission of fighting anti-Semitism, hate and bigotry within our society takes many forms: partnering with schools to teach students to be allies; helping public and private sectors to reduce bias and stereotyping; building bridges between interfaith groups; sharing expertise in fighting extremism and hate crimes with law enforcement; collaborating with NGOs; and working with policymakers from all backgrounds.
Each year ADL publishes an audit of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States. In 2018, ADL recorded 1,879 such incidents. With White supremacists stepping up their activities, the number of incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism remained at near-historic levels. (In the previous year, incidents shot up dramatically, to the highest level ever recorded – 1,986.) This most recent audit shows:
- A dramatic increase in physical assaults, including the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history;
- a wave of robocalls targeting Jewish schools, Jewish Community Centers, and synagogues; and
- a significant number of incidents at K-12 schools and college campuses.
ADL’s Center on Extremism is the agency’s research and investigative arm, and a clearinghouse of information about extremism of all types, including white supremacists and Islamic extremists. For decades, COE analysts have tracked extremist activity in the U.S. and abroad, assisted law enforcement with countless investigations, and helped disrupt and prevent multiple terror attacks.
Communities Against Hate
Established in March 2017, Communities Against Hate (CAH) is a national initiative led by The Leadership Conference Education Fund in partnership with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and is made up of a diverse coalition of national organizations and neighborhood groups that document stories and respond to incidents of violence, threats, and property damage motivated by hate in the United States. CAH provides a safe place for survivors and witnesses to share stories of hate incidents through its online database and telephone hotline.
In January 2019 CAH reported that more than two-thirds of Americans believed that hate incidents had intensified over the past two years. The CAH report documents where incidents occur, which communities are most likely to experience them, and what form they most often take. It analyzes results of a Hate Incidence Poll and nearly 4,000 incident reports submitted to the CAH online database. Across respondents, data show hate incidents being experienced by 73 percent of Americans of Middle East or Arab descent, 59 percent of Hispanic Americans, and 47 percent of African Americans. Nearly 40 percent of those perpetrating incidents invoked the name of an alt-right hate group or involved 2016 presidential election-related rhetoric. Five percent of hate incidents occurred on the street, 14.55 percent at a business location, and 13 percent in private residences. Across respondents:
- 84 percent felt hate incidents were now prevalent;
- 66 percent felt that incidents or expressions of hate are getting worse; and
- 18 percent experienced episodes of depression following hate incidents, highlighting the mental wellness implications of a hate-filled climate.
CAH officials said the report findings underscore the need for better data collection, comprehensive policy reform, and widespread support for combating hate incidents. The report is at Hate Magnified: Communities in Crisis.
Over Zero, New America
Building U.S. Resilience to Political Violence, a 2019 paper published by Over Zero with The New Models for Policy Change Initiative at New America, examines the rise of violence and hate speech in the U.S., the increase in public rhetoric that seems to condone if not encourage violence, and the declining legitimacy of U.S. democratic institutions, and warns that the 2019-2020 period brings a set of political and cultural events, including the run-up to a U.S. presidential election and the census, that will likely further escalate tensions and increase the risk of violence and instability.
The 50-page paper applies insights and lessons learned from social science and international peacebuilding to describe areas most likely to bolster resilience in the face of political violence in the U.S. Highlighting four risk factors for violence – factionalization of political groups, societal polarization, a rise in hate speech and rhetoric, and weakening institutions – it suggests five interventions to increase societal resilience to political violence and serve as long-term foundations of a healthier society: bolstering inclusive, influential voices within diverse American communities; supporting targeted communities; protecting, supporting and training the media to heed the best practices of reporting amidst division; laying the groundwork for a coordinated response to violence; and protecting and strengthening capacities for resilience.