St. Lucy's Priory High School

Commentary: Hate intensifies in the U.S.

In the land of the free, home of the brave, America promotes equality, not only for the average white male, but for all people. This includes females, all sexual orientations and the great variety of ethnicities that have bestowed upon America the famous title: “the melting pot.”

It is believed that great progress has been made throughout the decades and that the 21st century is a time like no other, full of modernity, change, and acceptance, but is there enough evidence to support these claims that America steadfastly follows the values it so firmly believes in?

In 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the agency responsible for annually surveying the number of hate and extremist groups in America, found that the number of hate groups in America reached a near-historic high of 917, just difference of 101 from the record setting 1,018 groups recorded in 2011.

According to Mark Potok, the editor-in-chief for the SPLC’s Intelligence Report, the reason for the substantial increase lies behind the election of current president, Donald Trump, who has provided the radical right wing with a steady backing and influences white superiority through his grueling rhetoric that threatens the existence of Muslims and immigrants, as well as the dignity of women.

It is a surprise how easily the radical right wing entered as a major force within politics, and more specifically into the White House, since it has been about 50 years since they last made a prominent presence within the political sphere with the presidential candidate George Wallace in 1968.

This relation can be further seen in the fact that anti-Muslim hate crimes nearly rose by 67 percent during the time in which Trump began his campaign. 867 bias-related incidents, nearly a third of them affecting Muslims and immigrants, marked the ten days succeeding his election.

Overall, there was a tripling in the accounts of anti-Muslim hate groups, rising from 34 in 2015 to 101 in the following year.

On top of anti-Muslim hate groups, there is a presence from anti-LGBT groups, such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, a group pushing towards the criminalization of homosexuality, neo-Nazi groups, neo-Confederate groups, white nationalist groups, and even antisemitism. The increase in hate and extremist groups does not include the large numbers of people who operate individually over the internet, unaffiliated with specific hate organizations, influencing people with extremist ideals.

The Daily Storm is only one of the many individual groups using the internet to spread their beliefs. This radical website, who sees the new president as a “glorious leader,” remarkably rose in popularity in July 2016, becoming the most visited hate website out of them all.

With a political party change in the government, anti-government groups have actually declined. This decline started even before Trump secured the presidency. These anti-government groups support the Patriot movement, which despises democrats and the party, and are happy to see a republican in office.

Hate does not stop in 2016, the most recent occurrences this year have dealt with vandalism on Muslim mosques and to more than 100 severed headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. Furthermore, threats are a common reality to minorities who are unwelcome by certain groups. These people receive death threats to their communities, creating an uncomfortable and unwelcoming environment for those who just want to live peacefully.

This inequality is not what America stands for, but it unfortunately remains a prominent force within society today. America is known as the land of the free and it is necessary that communities come together to find ways to unconditionally provide these circumstances for all.

–Kiley Distelrath