The Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University San Bernardino has released the “Report to the Nation: 2019 Factbook on Hate & Extremism in the U.S. & Internationally.” In the more than 100 pages of the report, the Center ‘s empirical findings put a spotlight on the targeted violence and victims in our society. Several sections divide the publication for clarity, such as Latest 2018 Major U.S. City Data, Bias by City in 2018, Hate Migrates and Increases Online, Russian Social Media Manipulation Continues, and U.S. NGO Data — Emerging Hatreds: Homeless, Transgender & Journalists. Some salient findings from this year’s Factbook include the following:
- In data collected from 30 major U.S. cities, the Center reports that hate crimes have continued to rise for the fifth year in a row. Not only did hate crimes increase by a total of 9%, but the number of cities that experienced increases in hate crimes doubled those cities which experienced declines.
- The most common hate crime victim groups were African Americans, Jews, and Gays. However, the report notes that Whites and Jews experienced a significant increase in hate crime violence. According to the report, “Jews were the direct target of half of the bias/extremist homicides in 2018, in the worst year ever for anti-Semitic killings in the United States.”
- White nationalism and far right extremism continues to be a dominant source of hate crimes, and, as noted, these crimes were committed around the time of mid-term elections.
- 47 states, as well as D.C., Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands now have active hate crime laws, and many of these have current legislation to reform existing laws in order to expand victim categories and protections.
- Cyberspace and social media continue to be a breeding ground for hatemongers, supremacists, neo-Nazis, unaffiliated extremists, and loners. The report also warns that “Social media has also
been weaponized, not only by domestic and foreign extremists, but also by state actors like Russia seeking to ‘sow discord’ and launch conspiracy theories amongst the electorate to advance prejudice and political division.”
Brian Levin, Director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, and a primary author of the report, offers some poignant reflection on what the many pages of data actually means. “The overall data show polarization and fragmentation amidst sustained multi-year increases in hate crime and bigoted digital speech. In particular, both overt and shrouded xenophobia and anti-Semitism are key socio-political levers internationally, as societies become less unified, open, trusting in communal institutions, flexible on immigration, and tolerant. The most pronounced spikes occurred around domestic catalysts and international conflicts, but increasingly over the last decade, the worst months for both bias crime and fatal extremist violence were clustered around highly charged political events and conflicts relating to terrorism and immigration. […] Moreover, identified foreign and domestic malefactors still seek leverage by manipulating the widening fissures that divide us.”