This Week In Hate — August 4 — The Complexity of Documenting Hate

Pre­pared for SAALT by Rad­ha Modi

SAALT, as well as oth­er nation­al advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tions, are tak­ing the lead in col­lect­ing and doc­u­ment­ing hate inci­dents across com­mu­ni­ties as fed­er­al agen­cies fall short on this front. Orga­ni­za­tions use news clip­pings as a com­mon way to col­lect and doc­u­ment hate inci­dents. Often hate inci­dents do not make it to the news cycle in real time, and orga­ni­za­tions only learn about some inci­dents weeks to months lat­er. In addi­tion, the report­ing of hate inci­dents is a dynam­ic process with shifts in the safe­ty, ease, and struc­tur­al access around report­ing for com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers. Fur­ther, the defin­ing and iden­ti­fy­ing of what con­sti­tutes a hate inci­dent is also vari­able across orga­ni­za­tions and media out­lets. Con­sid­er­ing all of these com­plex issues, the num­ber of hate inci­dents against those who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, South Asian, Asian, Mid­dle East­ern, or Arab are in flux.

Recent­ly, SAALT dis­cov­ered past inci­dents that were not orig­i­nal­ly doc­u­ment­ed in the organization’s data­base. These missed inci­dents have now been cat­a­loged in an effort to bring our com­mu­ni­ties the most up-to-date and accu­rate num­bers in the dynam­ic land­scape of doc­u­ment­ing hate.

Per­sis­tent Pat­terns of Hate

It is impor­tant to note that while the num­bers have changed from our pre­vi­ous reports, the over­all pat­terns have remained the same. As shown in Fig­ure 1, the total num­ber of doc­u­ment­ed hate inci­dents post-elec­tion, tal­ly­ing at 135, has sur­passed the total num­ber of hate inci­dents of 130 that occurred dur­ing the year pri­or to the elec­tion (see below for clar­i­fi­ca­tion).

Anoth­er pat­tern that has remained con­sis­tent is the preva­lence of ver­bal and writ­ten assaults against com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers. Fig­ure 2 illus­trates that the total num­ber of ver­bal and writ­ten assaults is almost dou­ble that of the pre­vi­ous year before the elec­tion (57 post-elec­tion ver­bal hate inci­dents com­pared to 29 pre-elec­tion ver­bal hate inci­dents). The sanc­tion­ing of hate rhetoric from gov­ern­ment offi­cials local­ly and fed­er­al­ly as well as the pass­ing of anti-Mus­lim and anti-immi­grant leg­is­la­tion is com­men­su­rate with the increased nor­mal­iza­tion of ver­bal abuse of com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers on the streets. On July 27, 2017, three Soma­li Mus­lim women were harassed by a white woman at a local Wal­mart near Far­go, North Dako­ta. The white woman screamed to the women that “Mus­lims were going to hell” and “We’re going to kill ya.” Threats such as these are becom­ing more com­mon­place as phys­i­cal assaults and prop­er­ty dam­age inci­dents also involve ver­bal or writ­ten hate filled harass­ment.

In addi­tion, as we remem­ber the five year anniver­sary of the mas­sacre at Oak Creek this week, the vio­lence against the Sikh com­mu­ni­ty con­tin­ues with the increased anti-immi­grant and anti-Mus­lim rhetoric under the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. This past week the body of 68-year-old Sikh man, Sub­ag Singh, was found with signs of trau­ma in an irri­ga­tion canal in Fres­no, Cal­i­for­nia. Sub­ag Singh went miss­ing on July 23, 2017, after leav­ing his house for a morn­ing walk. While local police have yet to assign the mur­der of Sub­ag Singh as a hate crime, the threat of hate vio­lence against local Sikh com­mu­ni­ties remains across the US.

The 130 total from the pre-election year in the current database does not match the 140 total hate incidents covering the some of the same time period in our Power, Pain, and Potential report. Two issues led to this discrepancy. First, the 140 total in the Power, Pain, and Potential report also documented the uptick in hate incidents one week post-election.The 130 pre-election number in our current database does not include the first week following the election. Second, a handful of incidents categorized as hate incidents are now categorized as hate rhetoric in the current database. As SAALT standardizes the distinction between hate rhetoric and hate incident, the database is consequently updated and reflects these changes.