Huge Increase in Hate Crimes

The Anti-defamation League (ADL) reported that in 2017 nearly 2000 “anti-Semitic incidents” were reported in America – nearly a 60% increase over 2016. Most would seem to qualify as hate crimes, but this is not discussed. Curiously, violent acts against Jews actually decreased. There was a huge surge in acts of vandalism, especially “symbolic” acts, like defacing gravestones, as opposed non-symbolic acts involving serious physical damage, like arson or bombings.

It is too early for most other data on hate crimes in 2017 to have been compiled. But some people at California State University at San Bernardino examined police data from large cities (here). Increases tended to be about 20% or greater. But these seem to have been exclusively violent crimes; no mention was made of vandalism or other crimes against property. The director of the research study said, “All were committed by ‘avowed white supremacists.’”

I made no attempt to locate international data, but I do not think the pronounced increase in hate incidents in limited to the United States. In recent years, Europe has also experienced a surge in such crimes (here). 

There seems to be more than a whiff of fascism in the air. While economic factors certainly contribute to the problem, current economies are far better than the economies of Italy and Germany that gave rise to fascism in the 20th century. Currently unemployment is low, and while economic growth is muted, economies are not in recession, much less a major depression. Today’s protestors and perpetrators of hate crimes are not suffering real economic hardship. They seem to be reacting more to a sense of being left behind. But I’m not sure how much difference this makes. Even if people like Trump flame out, the underlying dissatisfaction and rightward pressure will probably remain. In the likely event that the economy does worse, those rightward pressures will increase. It’s like watching a slow-motion train wreck. I’m not sure what can reasonably be done about it.


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