Are hate crimes on the rise these days? The news these days is full of incidents of ugly things said and done by Trump supporters. Letters to the editor telling Muslims that they are about to be treated as the Jews were under Hitler, swastikas and ugly words painted on black churches, a lady refusing to pay for a shopping bag while shouting "Trump won!" (neener neener neener) -- the list goes on. Progressives on social media exercise their outrage each time, solemnly warning us of the incipient fascism we are facing.
Several things need to be said.
First, obviously, each and every one of these incidents is deplorable. There is no justification for expressions of hate or contempt toward our fellows. Vandalism is never okay. And nobody is owed anything, just because one's candidate has won an election.
But, second: are these incidents actually on the rise? Remember, during the Reagan and elder Bush administrations, the news was full of stories on homelessness. We were in a national crisis of homelessness, apparently. It was suggested -- nay, sometimes outright claimed -- that the increase in homelessness was directly caused by the economic policies of the Republicans in power. Oh, those nasty Repubs! Well, Bill Clinton apparently solved the problem in a single day: January 20, 1993. For on the day of his inauguration, the news simply stopped carrying stories on homelessness. Did homelessness disappear? No, but the news media doesn't carry many such stories when their guy is in power. So, I have to ask: are incidents of hate increasing, or are they suddenly just being reported more because the news media think they're newsworthy now that a Trump presidency is on the horizon?
And, third: for those paying attention these last few years, there has been a low rumble of these kinds of incidents all along. And a not inconsiderable number of them have turned out to be hoaxes, perpetrated by those claiming to be the targets of the hate. The follow-up stories revealing the hoaxers don't get quite the splash as the original incident reports. How many of the incidents now being reported will turn out to have been perpetrated by progressives? And will that make a difference to the number of these stories being reported or the way they're covered?
Finally: while I don't ever condone expressions of payback, in some of these cases I'm willing to cut people some slack. The expressions of hate and contempt directed toward ordinary Americans by progressives is one of the big stories of this election. From the original Tea Party Patriots of a few years ago being maligned with homosexual slurs about "teabagging" to Hillary Clinton's calling Trump supporters "a basket of deplorables," the Left has felt free to indulge in all kinds of ugly rhetoric toward their opponents. So their sanctimony about ugly rhetoric now doesn't move me much. Hate breeds hate, contempt excites contempt. I don't say it's okay, but I'm not surprised at some of the things I've seen said and done by those on the winning side; indeed, I'm surprised at how little of that there's been.
Expect to see many, many stories about hate and fascism in the years ahead. The news media and the grievance industry (but I repeat myself) will beat this drum for all it's worth. Which doesn't mean that there's never something that needs rebuking in our society; it just means that the low smoulder of trash fires that goes on all the time will be reported as catastrophic forest fires caused by Trump supporters playing with matches.