Posted by Jacob Britton on November 15, 2019 at 12:27 PM

Following this week’s release of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2018 Hate Crime Statistics report, which showed the deadliest year on record and the most violent since 2001, AAI Executive Director Maya Berry made a clear, but nevertheless difficult, observation. “The Trump Administration,” she said, “has advanced policies, and the president has trafficked in rhetoric, targeting the same communities that have also experienced a surge of hate violence.”

She is right, and we can look to the data for proof. In 2015, the same year that Donald Trump, then a presidential candidate, called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” from entering the country, FBI data showed a dramatic sixty-seven percent increase of Anti-Muslim hate crimes reported in the United States. Flash forward to 2017, when President Trump suggested there were good people on “both sides” of a fatal neo-Nazi rally in which white nationalists chanted “Jews will not replace us,” the FBI recorded a thirty-seven percent increase of reported Anti-Jewish hate crimes. And in 2018, the year of the Trump Administration’s family separation policy and the president’s fear mongering about a so-called “immigrant invasion” and “migrant caravans,” the United States saw a fifteen percent increase in reported Anti-Hispanic or Latino hate crimes.

Short of attributing causation, the correlation between the administration’s policies and rhetoric on the one hand, and the upsurge of reported hate crimes on the other, is self-evident. The federal government must work to reduce the surge of hate crime, and the first step is expressing a commitment to protecting hate crime victims and their communities. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has failed in this task and has allowed bigotry and white nationalism to fester within its ranks.

On the same day the FBI released the annual Hate Crime Statistics report, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) published the first in a series of articles raising concerns about White House senior advisor Stephen Miller. According to leaked emails obtained by the SPLC, Miller “promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof’s murderous rampage” in correspondence with editors at Breitbart News. Additionally, the SPLC scrutinized Miller’s relationship with Richard Spencer, who founded the “alt-right” movement and was a prominent figure at the aforementioned neo-Nazi rally, which took place in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017.

In context with FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics report, these revelations from the SPLC are even more disturbing. Hate crimes, including mass atrocities such as those committed at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018 and at an El Paso shopping center in 2019, are on the rise. We need an administration that can help put out the fires of bigotry and xenophobia and protect civil rights. Instead, it appears that some within the administration are fanning the flames.


Jacob Britton is a 2019 Fall Intern with the Arab American Institute.