This Week In Hate: October 5 — Hate Crimes, Racial Profiling, and the Link to Systemic Discrimination

Pre­pared by Rad­ha Modi

Between Novem­ber 8, 2016 and Octo­ber 3, 2017, there have been 179 doc­u­ment­ed hate inci­dents against those who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, South Asian, Arab, or Mid­dle East­ern com­pared to the total of 130 from the year pri­or to the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump. The increase in hate vio­lence dur­ing the last eleven months is symp­to­matic of the nor­mal­iza­tion and sanc­tion­ing of hate rhetoric by those in posi­tions of pow­er and influ­ence. Con­cur­rent with the rise in hate inci­dents and nor­mal­iza­tion of hate rhetoric, there is also fur­ther deep­en­ing of insti­tu­tion­al­ized vio­lence such as racial pro­fil­ing and dis­crim­i­na­tion against mul­ti­ple mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties.

Hate inci­dents fall under three broad cat­e­gories of: 1) prop­er­ty dam­age due to van­dal­ism, rob­bery, arson, or oth­er forms of destruc­tion, 2) phys­i­cal assaults such as pulling of attire, shov­ing, or punch­ing, and 3) ver­bal and writ­ten assaults either in per­son or through email or fly­ers. Of the 179 hate inci­dents against those who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, South Asian, Arab, or Mid­dle East­ern, 63 are inci­dents of phys­i­cal assaults, 71 are inci­dents of verbal/written assaults, and 45 are inci­dents of prop­er­ty dam­age. The most notable instance of phys­i­cal assault occurred in Hous­ton, TX, on Sep­tem­ber 21, 2017. A Lyft dri­ver assumed to be Pak­istani and Mus­lim was ver­bal­ly and phys­i­cal­ly assault­ed by the pas­sen­ger, Matthew Dunn.” The assault left the dri­ver trau­ma­tized and fear­ful of his life. The anti-immi­grant and anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment is char­ac­ter­is­tic of most hate inci­dents cap­tured in SAALT’s data­base. While ver­bal or writ­ten assaults are absent of phys­i­cal vio­lence, they are equal­ly trau­mat­ic for vic­tims. On Sep­tem­ber 15, 2017, a white suprema­cist wear­ing a “F**k ISIS” t‑shirt threat­ened to kill the patrons of a hookah lounge in Lake For­est, Cal­i­for­nia. Then three days lat­er on the 18th, van­dals spray-paint­ed mul­ti­ple hate mes­sages on a store owned by an Indi­an fam­i­ly. One alarm­ing mes­sage stat­ed: “Kill All Hin­dus.”

Con­cur­rent­ly, the vio­lence that is hap­pen­ing on the streets is also insti­tu­tion­al­ized through racial pro­fil­ing and dis­crim­i­na­tion of those who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, South Asian, Arab, or Mid­dle East­ern. Racial pro­fil­ing is a com­mon insti­tu­tion­al­ized tac­tic used by law enforce­ment that unjust­ly tar­gets and ter­ror­izes com­mu­ni­ties of col­or. The ACLU reports that U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion (CBP) seized and searched the phones of the Alasaad fam­i­ly, who are Mus­lim and have Amer­i­can Cit­i­zen­ship, with­out a war­rant and held the fam­i­ly for hours at the U.S.-Canadian bor­der. More recent­ly, a Mus­lim man was arrest­ed, and his fam­i­ly was detained for three hours when he tried to deposit a check at his local bank in Wichi­ta, Kansas. The fam­i­ly feels trau­ma­tized by the encounter and wor­ries about their safe­ty in Kansas.

As hate vio­lence on the streets and the tar­get­ing of Mus­lims by law enforce­ment are rou­tinized, the sys­temic dis­crim­i­na­tion of those who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim also deep­ens in major insti­tu­tions such as edu­ca­tion, labor, or hous­ing. A Face­book page sell­ing and rent­ing homes in LaSalle, Illi­nois, up until recent­ly asked mem­bers inter­est­ed in join­ing the Face­book group: “Are you Mus­lim or ter­ror­ist?” A pri­vate com­pa­ny, Ver­ly Pro Mov­ing Labor, set up the Face­book page and after com­plaints took down the ques­tion. Also, a uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor, forced to resign, is suing his for­mer employ­er, Uni­ver­si­ty of Cen­tral Flori­da, on grounds that he suf­fered dis­crim­i­na­tion as a Black and Mus­lim fac­ul­ty mem­ber. These are just some of the exam­ples that demon­strate how tar­get­ing of mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties is crim­i­nal­ized and insti­tu­tion­al­ized.