Hate and the crimes it produces do incredible damage to the social fabric—what author and “values education” expert Nigel Cohen calls our shared values of “respect, kindness, compassion, trust and joy” that make society safe humane. For example, a community loses a significant measure of its integrity each time a person is brutally assaulted by another simply because she is Asian and defenseless.
That is what hate crimes do. They impose a permanent distrust of other races or ethnic groups and roil the cauldrons of hatred that inevitably exists in any racially and culturally diverse society such as the United States.
Hate Crimes Damage Social Fabric and Breach Social Contract
Every organized society in this world today is afflicted in varying degrees with racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural hatreds that do serious damage to their social fabric.
But the United States has become the 21st century’s leading manufacturer and consumer of hatred—a phenomenon that began after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down arguably its most politically and socially divisive decision in 2000 with Bush v. Gore. That unsigned 5-4 per curiam decision effectively took the presidential election from Democrat Al Gore and gave it to Republican George Bush.
Bush v. Gore, decided strictly along partisan lines, created political divisions and social chasms that were simmering in every segment of society when the devastating September 11, 2001 terror attacks sent deadly smoke and destruction across New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.—an event that unleashed hatred and Islamophobia across every sector of American society against Muslims.
In rapid succession, these two events, Bush v. Gore and 9/11 re-awakened the kind of hatred that in many ways both defined and shaped the American way of life in the hundred years between 1865 and 1965: Jim Crow, racial segregation, and lynch justice.
Hate Crimes Against Muslims Rise 1617% After 9/11
This American capacity for hatred triggered a tsunami of crimes against American Muslims—burned or destroyed mosques, physical attacks, death threats, and murders—rose 1617% between 2000 and 2001. 9/11 made racial hatred a legitimate part of the social discourse, as it was in the 1950s when the KKK and their supporters fought racial desegregation of the Old South.
Then, the 2008 election of Barak Obama as president kindled hope that a new era of peace and stability would settle across the nation’s social fabric. But it was not to be. The very forces that had tried to sink Obama’s election with charges that he was a “radical Muslim” and not a legitimate American citizen founded the Tea Party Movement in the wake of his election.
This racist-driven political dynamic had one sole purpose: undermine the legitimacy of the first Black American president in the United States and restore White rule to the American presidency.
Although the Tea Party Movement failed in its racist efforts to undermine the Obama presidency, it created a social climate that gave rise to a sinister White Nationalism Movement that gained mainstream credibility with the election of Donald Trump as president in 2016—a man with a long, sordid oral history of racism.
As it elevated white nationalism deeply into the American social fabric with the “Make America Great Again” sloganeering, the virtually all-white Trump administration waged unrelenting racist attacks on Muslims, immigrants, Black and Hispanic Americans, China and Chinese Americans, and Third World nations.
Hate Crimes Rise to 12 Year High in 2021
In September 2021, the FBI reported that in the final year of the Trump presidency—as he railed against Black Lives Matter for its George Floyd protests and the Chinese for the China-created COVID Pandemic—hate crimes rose to a 12-year high with 7,759 such crimes.
These 2020 hate crimes fell just below the 7,783 hate crimes that occurred in 2008—the year Barak Obama was elected. The FBI noted that fewer law enforcement agencies elected to report hate crimes in 2020 than those in 2019—most of which were probably politically affiliated with the Trump administration.
One thing is clear from the 2020 hate crime numbers: the Trump administration, driven by the president’s visceral hatred of Obama, gave rise to hate crimes against Muslims by continuously stoking 9/11 Islamophobia-produced fears.
As the ACLU reported in 2021, “… Existing and proposed mosque sites have been targeted for vandalism and other criminal acts, and there have been efforts to block or deny necessary zoning permits for the construction and expansion of other facilities.”
Perpetuating Islamophobic Discrimination in the U.S.
In a 2021 essay–titled “Perpetuating Islamophobic Discrimination in the United States: Examining the Relationship Between News, Social Media, and Hate Crimes“—that appeared in the Winter edition of the Harvard Human Rights Journal, Harvard University A.B. Candidate Janna Ramadan made these introductory observations in her award-winning essay:
“In post-9/11 America, Muslims have been inextricably linked to terrorism in the public imagination. Americans have consumed media headlines about the Patriot Act, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, violent extremist organizations, and the Muslim ban, all perpetuating an association between Muslims and terrorism. Explicit Islamophobic comments uttered by elected representatives have implied legitimacy to these stereotypes with former President Trump stating, “I think Islam hates us.”  Former Congressman Steve King also famously questioned the loyalty of elected Muslim-American Congressman Keith Ellison.
‘Religion in the United States also carries a racial designation. Despite no one racial group constituting more than 30% of the Muslim population, Muslims are racialized as a community of color. At the center of Islamophobia in the United States is a convergence of racial and religious discrimination. Hate crimes against Muslims in the United States are a violation of human rights rooted in discrimination and ostracization within American institutions.”
In 2018, there were roughly 3.45 million Muslims living in the United States, making up slightly more than 1 percent of the total American population. Yet, they continue in the aftermath of 9/11 to have one of the highest hate crimes rate against them to this very day.
It has been said that a hate crime is a “message crime,” namely, a message to a particular race or religious group that they are not welcome in the mainstream of a given society. The message resonating throughout the American social fabric today is that Muslims, Jews, and immigrants are not welcomed in the United States; and that Blacks, Native Americans, and Hispanic Americans must remain “second class” citizens.
This tragic reality leaves the American social fabric today in tatters.
That is the ultimate impact of hate crime, hate speech and the silence of enablers.