Hate speech is about to challenge everything we know about freedom of speech.
Hate: Emotional Manipulation For Spreading Lies
For many types of people, hate is an easy emotion to tap into. They already exist in a state of anxiety and fear of anyone that isn’t like their group, of people trying to take things away from them or to look for individuals to blame for their own bad decisions. We have witnessed this behavior in past dictatorships and fascist regimes where they began with statements of hate about a group, and, through continuously repeated misinformation, the hate expands and grows. Since the 2016 Presidential election, the U.S. has experienced an intense increase in hate crimes as well as verbal abuses to people of various colors and religions. Those that buy into the vitriol outrage and hate follow actions that are akin to cult-like behavior, and this lays a baseline for disinformation and lies to be believed.
Psychologists list hate as the emotional response of projection about the things they dislike about themselves. They also incorporate the desire to ostracize anyone that is “outside” of their own groups while elevating those that are “inside’ their own group. Those that study the emotion indicate that the individuals that “hate” lack self-compassion and therefore have no compassion for others. Hate is a learned trait that must be taught and encouraged. It typically starts with indoctrination at a young age and continues throughout maturity. When certain groups of people limit their exposure to other cultures, remain cloistered in their own communities, don’t have experiences with individuals that are outside of their religious beliefs, it sets a standard for hate to be fed as a consistent diet. It only takes a small amount of misinformation to feed the hatred, and the lies spread faster than any other kind of content.
When individuals, governments, or illicit organizations want to control people, they look to hate as the vehicle. Using lies and misinformation, they can transition a society into an uncontrollable mob. Proof of this has been reported by groups that monitor the status of these conditions, and they have been on the increase over the last two years. Types of hate crimes run from physical attacks, beatings, and shootings, to the destruction of synagogues, mosques, personal residences, and property; as well as buildings set on fire that contain people.
Those that are involved in the spread of misinformation understand that hate is the best vehicle to spread propaganda. When you have people in power that offer a platform validating the anger and blame, it is the perfect storm to make organizations such as white supremacists feel empowered. This has been occurring almost every day as the current administration supports such terms as “nationalist,” which catapults those that have a desire to take physical actions of hate to come forward. One of the key attributes of those involved in hate crimes is a twisted version of their belief in patriotism. A majority involve “hyper-nationalism,” which includes the displaying and/or wearing of the American flag, but with the idea that America is better than all other countries and groups of people. There is nothing wrong with patriotism, but this does not mean for America to be great, it means that every other country is inferior. This type of behavior and populist ideas has been a standard in fascist dictatorships throughout history.
The FBI Bureau’s “Hate Crime Statistics” report for 2017 indicates that hate crimes have increased by 17% from 2016 (7,175 compared to 6,121 in 2016).
The crimes reported break down to the following:
- 59.6% of victims were targeted because of the offenders’ race/ethnicity/ancestry bias.
- 15.8% were targeted because of sexual-orientation bias.
- 1.6% were targeted because of gender identity bias.
- Wrap the lie around a small kernel of truth.
- 0.6% were targeted because of gender bias.
- Sixty-nine multiple-bias hate crime incidents were also reported.
Of the 1,679 religious bias crimes reported in 2017:
- 58.1% were anti-Jewish.
- 18.6% were anti-Muslim.
Pew Research Center reports that the quantity of assaults against Muslims has increased in the U.S., surpassing those that peaked during the Sept. 11, 2001 aftermath. “In 2016, there were 127 reported victims of aggravated or simple assault, compared with 91 the year before and 93 in 2001.”
However, physical assaults are not the only form of hate crime, the most common being threats and reasonable fear of bodily harm as well as vandalism. There were 307 reported anti-Muslim hate crime incidents in 2016, which is an increase of 19% from the previous year.
Using the crimes recorded by the FBI, researchers Karsetn Müller and Carlo Schwarz of the University of Warwick have created a working paper entitled “Make America Hate Again? Twitter and Hate Crime Under Trump” that shows a direct correlation between Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim social media tweets and a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes. The report conclusions correspond with data collected by Muslim advocacy and civil rights groups. The information in the report showed an increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes beginning with Trump’s presidential campaign, concentrated explicitly in counties that have a higher use of Twitter. The report additionally showed a correlation in the number of tweets by Trump within a given week using anti-Islam and anti-Muslim terms and the hate crimes that occurred after the tweets.
Research shows that Donald Trump has empowered anti-Muslim attacks with his social media comments.
The FBI report also showed that hate crimes targeting Jewish institutions and Jews in the U.S. took a 37% spike increase and is the third year in a row for these types of offenses to jump. While religious-based hate crimes were about 20% of the overall, Jewish institutions and Jewish people were those that were most targeted.
Death, Destruction, Mayhem
Over the last few years, the American public has been listening to a nonstop onslaught of bigoted, racist rhetoric on a national stage the likes of which has not been heard in decades. The deafening silence of the Republican Party, in particular, has emboldened many within white nationalist and supremacist organizations to step forward in both words and actions.
What began with repeated lies against Muslims quickly transitioned into so-called “invasions” by Mexicans and Hispanics. Black Americans that are bringing the plight of the attacks on Black males in the U.S have “taken a knee” and been called out for hating the country. Attacks on people of all races, creeds, and colors have increased and so have many of the white supremacist organizations.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a non-profit group devoted to fighting hate and teaching tolerance, created a report of the identified hate groups in America. Each organization is identified along with a description, and the list is nauseating. While the list contains all hate groups of every type, you only have to read through them to see that a majority involve white nationalists/supremacists. The organization has even supplied an interactive “hate map” so that anyone can check to see what hate groups are in their area. If you are interested in a more detailed list of hate crimes against specific groups, the Statista.com page includes race, motivation, and types.
SPLC also includes information on the growing number holocaust-deniers:
“The deniers’ claims run a gamut. Some groups say that most Jews were the victims of disease and other privations, or died in much the same way that other casualties of a huge and horrific war did. Some say that the gas chambers did not exist, or were only used to delouse prisoners, or could not possibly have killed as many victims as mainstream historians have asserted, and many suggest that the gas chambers were built after the war as a way extracting reparations from the Germans. The main purpose of Holocaust denial has been to rehabilitate the German Nazis’ image as part of a bid to make the ideology of national socialism more acceptable.”
However, it is the report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a civil rights organization formed to fight anti-Semitism that is the most chilling:
Right-Wing Extremism Linked to Every 2018 Extremist Murder in the U.S., ADL Finds.
Right-wing extremists killed more people last year than in any year since 1995.
From their article:
“Right-wing extremists were linked to at least 50 extremist-related murders in the United States in 2018, making them responsible for more deaths than in any year since 1995, according to new data from the ADL.
In its annual report on extremist-related killings in the U.S., the ADL’s Center on Extremism reported that at least 50 people were killed by extremists in 2018, including the 11 individuals killed in the fatal anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The tally represents a 35 percent increase from the 37 extremist-related murders in 2017, making 2018 the fourth-deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings since 1970.”
It continues with:
Murder and Extremism in 2018: Summary of Major Findings
- Every perpetrator had ties to at least one right-wing extremist movement, although one had recently begun supporting Islamist extremism.
- Firearms remain the weapon of choice for extremists who kill. Guns were responsible for 42 of the 50 deaths in 2018, followed by blades or edged weapons.
- Five shooting sprees resulted in 38 deaths and left 33 people injured.
- Among the five extremist-related shooting sprees in 2018: Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh, PA: 11 dead; Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, FL: 17 dead; Waffle House, Nashville, TN: four dead.
- The perpetrator of the deadly shooting spree at a yoga studio in Tallahassee was connected to the misogynistic incel/manosphere movement. In the wake of this attack and a similarly-motivated spate of murders in Toronto, ADL’s Center on Extremism now tracks such incidents as extremist-related killings.
Statistics in Blood — Not Part of the First Amendment
The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees us free speech, however, there are limitations within those guidelines, and it does not mean causing harm. HG.org, a legal organization, includes a hefty list of the types of speech that are not allowed under the First Amendment. From fighting words to violence, slander and crime speech, there is a litany of rhetoric that cannot be defended with the Amendment.
Words have consequences.
In the last few years, we have seen openly racist and bigoted comments being made by quite a few people in power with wide audiences. This has made people very comfortable voicing their own bigoted views where before they may have stayed silent. These people now feel empowered to say whatever they want. Beyond just the canceling of Roseanne Barr’s position in the show “Roseanne” when she tweeted a comparison of that Valerie Jarrett, a former Obama administration, to an ape and stating.
We have also seen the firing of a Fox Sports reporter for Orlando Magic and the Tampa Bay Rays for making comments that were racist against Chinese, Mexican, and Jewish people.
Careers are being put in self-destruct mode by the individuals themselves as they decide to tell the world that they are racist or bigoted, and even incite others to take action. Celebrities such as Charlie Sheen and Paula Deen paid the price for their racist remarks regarding Black Americans. Megan Kelly’s comments about “blackface” resulted in her being let go at NBC; Viacom’s Paramount TV unit head, Amy Powell was fired for making racist remarks (that she denies); John Schnatter, Papa John’s pizza chairman was asked to resign after reported racial slurs and graphic descriptions of violence against minorities; Netflix communications office, Jonathan Friedland was fired after two situations where he used a racial slur; and the HR exec for UPS was canned when she posted racist comments on a Georgia TV station’s Facebook page. And this is just a partial list.
The First Amendment is not carte blanche freedom to say whatever an individual wants, and even with the support of the current administration, there are laws set in place to punish those that think that racist and hateful comments are acceptable.
Framing racism and hate crimes as the center focal point has historically been one of the most successfully weaponized tools for dividing people and a nation. Those that are responsible for the spreading of misinformation make use of the gullibility and vulnerability of those that selectively choose what they want to believe and continue to repeat until it is embedded as part of their whole ideology.
This Is Why We Fight,
We are fighting in the war against misinformation to create a more empowered critical thinking society.
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