Midterm election is one possible cause of hate crime increasing, says expert

Posted at 12:35 PM, Nov 01, 2018

A recent string of extremist attacks highlights an alarming trend: a growing number of hate crimes across the country.

In fact, it’s up for the fourth year in a row in most major cities, according to Brian Levin, who studies hate crimes. Levin says one possible reason for the most recent spike of attacks is the midterm elections.

“We're a very polarized society,” says Levin, who works at the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. “We're not only divided, but we're entrenched in that division.”

Experts say hotly contested political races can cause a jump in hate crimes. It happened around the 2016 presidential election.

“November of that year was the worst month of 14 years, going back to the first anniversary of 9/11,” Levin says.

Just this week, attorneys for three men accused of planning to bomb a mosque the day after Donald Trump became president say his rhetoric during the campaign inspired the men.

Now that he's president, others worry his words could motivate others.

At a recent rally, President Trump stated, “You know what? I am; I'm a nationalist, okay.

“But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

Professor Carolyn Gallaher at American University believes this rhetoric has consequences.

“In white supremacist circles, they took this to mean this person supports us and we have a champion in the White House and we can fight for a white America.”

The president and his administration deny he intentionally incites violence.