You’ve probably heard the expression, “race to the bottom” before. We use it for all sorts of contexts, primarily when referring to education standards.
But have you started to get the feeling we are on a fast track in a race to the bottom for…everything? The environment, voting rights, criminal justice, education, international relations, national politics, and even basic compassion toward one another all seem to be eroding far faster than at any time in recent history.
We need not look much further than at the spate of racially motivated incidents occurring lately experts say demonstrates the growing use of hate symbols to intimidate minorities.
This past week, two nooses were found at Smithsonian museums. One was discovered outside the Hirshhorn Museum last Friday, and another Wednesday inside the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Last month bananas tied to nooses were discovered at American University in Washington; a noose was found at the University of Maryland; another at a suburban middle school in Crofton, Maryland.
Jack Shuler is a professor at Denison University who studies lynching and noose imagery in the U.S. He said:
“We’ve seen a spike in the use of symbols of hate lately, and the noose is one more example.”
Police arrested and charged two nineteen-year-old white men for allegedly hanging the noose at the Crofton school. There have been no arrests yet in the other cases.
Wednesday we also saw the spray-painting of “N****R” on the gate of basketball player LeBron James’ Los Angeles mansion.
Let’s not forget what happened last Friday in Portland, Ore. when two white men were stabbed trying to stop another man from shouting anti-Muslim slurs at two young Black women.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) notes an increase in hate incidents since President Donald Trump’s election. Between Election Day and Feb. 1, it has reported around 1,800 hate-related episodes all over the country, in what is being called the “Trump Effect.”
Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said:
“In the past, it would be a couple hundred at most, and that would be high.”
She attributes the rise to Trump’s campaign rhetoric about construction of a Mexican border wall and deportation of undocumented Americans and Muslims.
Trump began his political career, of course, leading the “birther movement” that asserted former President Barack Obama was born in Kenya.
“Putting those sentiments in public from a presidential campaign has sanctioned a lot of people. Things they might have kept inside themselves, that they have kept quiet about, have burst out.”
Jack Shuler, author of The Thirteenth Turn: A History of the Noose, said:
“I’ve seen in the last couple of months more instances of nooses being used to intimidate people. I think we’re in a situation right now where people who express hateful opinions are being allowed to speak freely and it’s become OK again.”
Fortunately, the harassment is not deterring people.
Stephen Middleton brought his extended family from Georgia and Maryland to the museum Thursday. Despite not being surprised bigots targeted the museum, he said:
“We’re not going to be deterred, we’re not going to be wavered and not going to be intimidated.”
Amen. Let’s follow his lead.
Check out this interview for more information about the hate waves (after the jump):
Featured Image: Screenshot Via YouTube Video.