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Studies Reveal Link Between Trump and Rise in Sexism, Hate Crimes

There’s been plenty of talk about the so-called “Trump effect” among political commentators, usually meant to describe a trend within American politics of embracing vicious mudslinging. But there’s another type of Trump effect that’s becoming increasingly difficult to deny that goes beyond a lack of civility.

I recently wrote about an Anti-Defamation League report which found that hate crime killings rose from 37 in 2017 to 50 in 2018 — with every perpetrator last year having a link to right-wing radicalism. While the reasoning for this could only be speculated about, recent studies help reaffirm what I and others have suspected: Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric is having a negative real world impact.

Recent research from political science experts at the University of North Texas found an uptick in hate crime incidents — such as vandalism, intimidation and physical violence — in counties where Trump held campaign rallies during the 2016 presidential race. These counties experienced a 226 percent increase in hate crime reports following his stops, as compared to the counties Trump did not visit.

This is a considerable change, though it’s arguably a “chicken and egg” scenario: Did Trump’s presence encourage more hate crimes, or was he inclined to visit counties where there was a predisposition toward such acts? In all likelihood, the reality is somewhere in between — but the connection is difficult to dismiss.

A separate study conducted by psychologists found another example of the Trump effect. It measured Americans’ views evaluated in terms of sexist beliefs and found that, following Trump’s presidential victory, Americans’ acceptance of certain misogynistic viewpoints had grown — though only among his own support base. What’s particularly remarkable about these findings is that it runs counter to a commonly held understanding in social science that argues that these types of views shift gradually over time, rather than being influenced by a single event.

Rather than acknowledge or even attempt to distance himself from these types of views, Trump has either turned a blind eye to these issues or, more often, continued to double down on language which is sexist or is encouraging of white nationalists. After all, this is the president who described neo-Nazis who participated in the deadly Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally in 2017 as “very fine people” and last year described himself as a “nationalist.”

It’s not just language though. Trump also defunded programs aimed at curbing white nationalism and skinhead violence domestically — mere days after the deadly terrorist attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh in October.

With domestic — and even international — terrorists and perpetrators of hate crimes frequently invoking Trump or slogans associated with him, it becomes hard to claim this presidency isn’t having a meaningful (and deeply troubling) impact on American and Western society.

This article was originally published on on March 30, 2019.

Writing about various things (mostly politics & social issues) for more than six years. Freelancer for hire.

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