Over the past week Donald Trump has been lambasted for emboldening white nationalism after a white nationalist killed 50 Muslims at two New Zealand mosques.
When a reporter asked the president whether he sees “today that white nationalism is a rising threat around the world?” Trump responded, “I don’t really.”
There have been other incidents of racist violence inspired by Trump, including:
- The August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA,
- The October 2018, shooting when a gunman killed 11 people worshiping at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.
There is also new evidence that hate groups are on the rise during Trump’s presidency, even though they were in decline under Barack Obama.
Of course Trump has always rejected any charges that he’s to blame for violence. He tweeted on Monday:
“The Fake News Media is working overtime to blame me for the horrible attack in New Zealand. They will have to work very hard to prove that one. So Ridiculous!”
The Fake News Media is working overtime to blame me for the horrible attack in New Zealand. They will have to work very hard to prove that one. So Ridiculous!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2019
A new study, however, shows that Trump’s speeches and tweets actually do result in violent behavior among his followers.
Trump’s violent rhetoric has a measurable link to hate crime and extremist activity
The new study “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.”
The study “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.”
The study concluded:
“It is hard to discount a “Trump effect” when a considerable number of these reported hate crimes reference Trump.”
“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.”
Trump Has Emboldened White Nationalism and Racist Violence
There is no question that many politicians and commentators have accused Donald Trump of emboldening white nationalists and their racist behavior. Even white nationalist leaders agree with this, including Richard Spencer and David Duke who supported Trump’s candidacy.
So really, very few people, except the president himself, are denying Trump’s influence among these groups. And the New Zealand shooter even referred to Trump as a “renewed symbol of white identity.”
Democrats Will Do What Trump Refuses to Do
On Monday we reported that the House Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing on the rise of white nationalism in the coming weeks. This means that Democrats will investigate the violence that Trump refuses to condemn.
As Jason Easley wrote:
“Trump is afraid of alienating white nationalists because they are some of his biggest supporters. Trump uses the language and buzz words of white nationalism when talking about immigrants and immigration.”
“Donald Trump views denouncing racism, bigotry, and white nationalism as bad politics, which is why it is vital that House Democrats stand up to this rising threat that is being inspired by the man in the Oval Office.”
White nationalism and racial violence are big deals that Donald Trump has denied. We now must call upon and encourage House Democrats to follow up on their investigations of Trump’s impact on racial violence, and we must let the American people know the truth: that their president is encouraging the kinds of divisions and conflicts that are tearing our nation apart.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.