This Is What Happens When You Normalize Hate

Note: This story originally appeared on my blog On January 5, 2017.

Earlier today, four black youths were charged with aggravated kidnapping and a host of other crimes in conjunction with their attack on a special needs white teenager. Shouting anti-Trump statements and anti-white sentiments, the four attackers held the victim over the course of several days and broadcast the attack on Facebook Live. Prosecutors have announced that the assailants will be charged with hate crimes.

Needless to say, the story has provoked understandable outrage. However, much of the outrage seems to be emanating from the so-called alt-right and more than a few of these commentators have (erroneously and perhaps intentionally) linked the attackers to Black Lives Matter.

That leads me to ask: why are so many of these “alt-right” commentators surprised by this? For the past year and a half, their idol, now President-elect Donald Trump, has been normalizing racial hatred. After all, he came right out and said that Mexicans were rapists and drug dealers during the press conference in which he announced his run for the presidency. He continued to make anti-Latino statements, all the while encouraging violence against (nonviolent) Black Lives Matter protesters at his rallies, insulting and body shaming women who dared to challenge him, mocking a disabled reporter, accusing Muslims of terrorism, and winkingly hinting that “Second Amendment” people should assasinate his opponent, Hillary Clinton. (He also repeatedly threatened to have her jailed, but I digress.)

These inflammatory statements stoked the deep-seated rage of his supporters. And they repeatedly acted out their rage in hateful, even violent, ways during his campaign and in the immediate aftermath of the election.

The thing is, Trump supporters weren’t the only people listening to Trump’s incendiary rhetoric. And they weren’t the only ones who held deep-seated (and roundly dismissed) racial resentments. It was only a matter of time before the rabid wolf that Trump and his supporters held by the ears broke loose and mauled someone who wasn’t on Trump’s shitlist.

This statement in no way condones the actions of those sociopaths in Chicago. Anyone who treats another human that way for any reason needs to be locked away from society, perhaps permanently. And they need to be locked away because they are a threat to everyone they encounter.

However, Trump and his white nationalist minions need to accept full responsibility for having normalized the racial animus and violent impulses that drove this particular crime. Adopting a more presidential demeanor, categorically denouncing and distancing himself from white supremacists, and staying away from Twitter are only three of the things that Trump can do to slay the monster. Whatever he does, having his racist minions falsely accuse Black Lives Matter of this crime won’t solve anything.