After the result of the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU was announced, there was a sharp increase in reported hate crime. Eastern Europeans were abused and beaten, and in one case murdered, when they failed to speak English. Anyone who was not white and living outside London and other major cities ran the risk of verbal and physical abuse. Muslim women had their headscarves forcibly removed.
Some who had lived in the UK for decades were even fearful to venture out of their homes. Many were asked when they would be “going home”, or forcibly told to do so. And the comments sections of national newspaper websites were, even more than usual, filled with hatred and abuse. Being non-white, or not having English as a first language, became a truly frightening prospect. And all of that has now arrived in the USA.
Following the election of Donald Trump as the next President, as New York Daily News writer Shaun King is now reporting via his Twitter feed, the racists have become emboldened, just as they were in Britain after the referendum. The bigotry began with “At @Walmart a woman pulled her Hijab off today and threatened her” and “A hate crime just happened at San Diego State University”. Assault, theft, and carjacking.
That was just for starters. A black woman was racially abused in Bloomington, Indiana, and told “Trump is going to deport you back to Africa”. A same-sex couple living somewhere in North Carolina found a note on their car saying “Can't wait until your 'marriage' is overturned by a real president. Gay families = burn in hell. Trump 2016”.
Seeing a pattern emerging? Does it sound a little familiar? How about this example? “White students @ Southern Illinois University (@SIUC) decided to put on blackface and pose in front of a Confederate Flag to celebrate Trump”. Was the example from California an isolated one? Er, no: “This happened to Chris yesterday in Simi Valley, CA … ‘Do you speak English?’ … When the cashier took up for him they called him Bin Laden”.
It was happening in Pennsylvania, too. “Principal in Pennsylvania admits white students were chanting: Cotton Picker, You're a N****r, Heil Hitler”. In the country that helped defeat fascism. The hatred has also spread to children: “A Latina mom dropped her son off at school. Then, she saw a group of 5th graders proudly chanting ‘BUILD THE WALL, BUILD THE WALL’”. Fifth grade. That’s 10 to 11 year olds.
LGBTQ hate crimes were happening even in New York State: “PRIDE Flags are being set on fire while in Rochester...while they are still attached to people's homes”. And the race hate just kept on coming: “‘Hey N****r. Pick that up. Keep my streets clean,’ said the emboldened white Trump supporter to this Black woman in Indiana”. As with the EU referendum in Britain, campaigners’ words generate unpleasant reactions.
It’s not “only campaigning”. It can’t be washed away by deflection and sophistry. Trump was right about one thing: his victory is a lot like our referendum result - it’s resulted in a welter of hate crime. It should shame anyone, unless of course they’re beyond shaming.
Shaun King is updating his Twitter feed regularly. Look in - but brace yourselves first.