A new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center paints a disturbing picture of the spread of hate in Trump's America.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reports a 30 percent increase in the number of hate groups in the last four years, coinciding with Trump's candidacy and presidency.
Released on Wednesday, the new SPLC report shows 2018 saw a record number of hate groups — 1,020 in all — operating in the United States, which is the most since the organization began tracking this issue in 1999.
"Rather than trying to tamp down hate, as presidents of both parties have done, President Trump elevates it — with both his rhetoric and his policies," Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project, said. "In doing so, he's given people across America the go-ahead to act on their worst instincts."
From 2011 through 2014, the number of hate groups declined by about 25 percent, down to 784. The uptick in 2015 coincided with Trump's campaign launch.
Anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric has been a staple of both Trump's campaign and his time in the White House. While running for president, he attacked Mexicans as "rapists," called for a ban on Muslims, and promised Mexico would pay for a wall along the southern border.
Once in office, Trump continued to promote white nationalists, especially he called them "very fine people" following a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that led to the murder of one protester.
"Trump has given voice to the rage and paranoia of white supremacists," Beirich says. While SPLC notes there has been growth in other types of hate groups, far-right hate groups have proven to be the most violent.
A separate report from the Anti-Defamation Leagues' Center on Extremism showed that every extremist murder in the U.S. in 2018 was linked to right-wing extremism. The 50 murders committed by extremists was an increase of 35 percent over 2017.
The FBI has seen a steady increase in the number of hate crimes over the same period of time SPLC saw a rise in hate groups. Between 2016 and 2017 alone, hate crimes spiked 17 percent.
"The numbers tell a striking story — that this president is not simply a polarizing figure but a radicalizing one," Beirich says.
SPLC President Richard Cohen says hate has frayed our society, but we can all work to knit it back together. "Most of all, it will take leadership — political leadership — that inspires our country to live up to its highest values," he says.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.