Tag Archives: divisiveness

Who’s Really Playing The Race Card?

Whenever a member of the African-American community objects to an injustice, or points out that a public figure has made a racially-insensitive (or worse) remark, Right-wingers immediately respond by accusing the person voicing the protest of “playing the race card.”

Evidently, it’s just not polite to call out racism.

Similarly, those of us who have called attention to the numerous studies concluding that “racial resentment” was the characteristic most predictive of a 2016 vote for Donald Trump have been dismissed as “partisan” and worse.

Well, they need to polish their invective once more, because there’s additional research confirming the proposition.

Following the attacks on New Zealand mosques, the Washington Post reported on the effects of Trump’s rallies–and those effects are neither ambiguous nor pretty. Counties that hosted such rallies in 2016 saw a 226 percent increase in hate crimes.

During an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” this past Sunday, Sen. Tim Kaine(D-Va.) lambasted President Trump for emboldening white nationalism after a young man killed at least 50 people at two New Zealand mosques. Kaine was referring to Trump’s answer after a reporter asked whether he sees “today that white nationalism is a rising threat around the world?” Trump responded, “I don’t really.”

This is not the first time Trump has been accused of catering to white nationalists after a terrorist attack. At an August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, a young white man rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer. Afterward, Trump insisted that “there’s blame on both sides” for the violence.

Then in October 2018, a gunman killed 11 congregants at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. When Trump announced plans to visit the synagogue, many people in Squirrel Hill, the city’s predominantly Jewish neighborhood, took to the streets demanding first that Trump renounce white nationalism before paying his respects to the victims.

Trump, of course, has pooh-poohed any suggestion that his rhetoric might be encouraging these horrific events. Those denials prompted a study to determine whether Trump’s behavior and language has emboldened white nationalists. (It is worth noting that white nationalist leaders– including Richard Spencer and David Duke– have publicly supported Trump’s candidacy and presidency, and the New Zealand shooter even referred to Trump as a “renewed symbol of white identity.”)

To test the effect of Trump’s rallies, the study aggregated hate-crime incident data and Trump rally data to the county level and then used statistical tools to estimate a rally’s impact, including controls for factors such as the county’s crime rates, its number of active hate groups, its minority populations, its percentage with college educations, its location in the country and the month when the rallies occurred.

The result?

We 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…

Additionally, it is hard to discount a “Trump effect” when a considerable number of these reported hate crimes reference Trump. According to the ADL’s 2016 data, these incidents included vandalism, intimidation and assault.

What’s more, 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.

It’s pretty obvious–and obviously dangerous–that Trump and his base are actually the ones playing the race card.