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During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump inspired acts of bigotry, intolerance, violence, and harassment with such disturbing frequency that we started tracking them on a Trump Hate Map. While nativism, racism, and accompanying harassment and bloodshed have a long and sordid history in America, Trump’s racist rhetoric, campaign, and presidency re-energized these forces, filtering into society at large and increasing the frequency of hate, violence, and harassment across America.
As Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said:
2016 was an unprecedented year for hate … The country saw a resurgence of white nationalism that imperils the racial progress we’ve made, along with the rise of a president whose policies reflect the values of white nationalists. Trump’s run for office electrified the radical right, which saw in him a champion of the idea that America is fundamentally a white man’s country.
It’s with this context in mind that we reflect on the events in Oregon and Texas from the past few days.
In Oregon, a white supremacist threatened and harassed two young Muslim women on-board a Portland commuter train, before stabbing three men who tried to intervene, killing two. The attacker, Jeremy Joseph Christian, is a white supremacist with vile views towards non-white Americans.
Writing in the Washington Post and reflecting on the Portland murders, writer and academic Arjun Singh Sethi noted:
Trump has intensified this second-class citizenship through immigration raids and the specter of bans and walls. He continues to view Muslims as valuable only insofar as they fight and condemn terrorism. His recent statement commemorating Ramadan focused predominantly on violence and terrorism, and only of the sort ostensibly committed in the name of Islam.
An array of elected officials and civic leaders will condemn the Portland tragedy in the coming days. But will they condemn the criminalization and national security policies that cultivate hate and bigotry? Will they help illuminate and dismantle these policies, which inevitably reinforce notions of white privilege and prejudice? If the government sees our communities as inherently suspect and unworthy of dignity and respect, so will everyday Americans.
In Texas, Republican Rep. Matt Rinaldi called hundreds gathered at the state capitol in Austin to protest the discriminatory SB4 law a “disgrace” and said he’d called immigration authorities on them. “Fuck them,” he said. “I called ICE.” Rep. Rinaldi also reportedly threatened to “put a bullet in one of his colleague’s heads.” When Democratic Rep. César Blanco told Rinaldi that Italian immigrants [e.g. Rinaldi’s ancestors] are “just like us,” Rinaldi responded, “Yeah, but we love our country.”
As Rep. Blanco stated:
The Trump rhetoric is trickling down and allowing current elected officials and candidates to resort to racism and violence making it sound like it was O.K. This has to stop. It is not what our country or what Texas is about.”
Rep. Rinaldi’s hateful comments and threats also underscore the racial profiling and discrimination inherent in the SB4 law and behind its support.
“We cannot and will not allow Trump’s presidency to normalize hate and turn neighbor against neighbor. The future of our society and our democracy is being tested. We will fight to continue to be a country that lives up to our stated values,” said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund.