Whether you are in favor of or against the Trump Administration and its policies, there aren’t many who don’t have an opinion. Due to current events both in America and abroad, some insist that an anti-Muslim sentiment is fostered and is only enhanced by Trump’s attempt at an immigration ban from countries which are predominantly Muslim. The recent Portland stabbing incident is only further making people wonder whether hate crimes are getting worse in America.
Last Friday, Destinee Mangum and her Muslim friend, who was wearing a hijab — the traditional Muslim head covering, — were riding on a train and minding their own business. Joseph Christian, a 35-year-old Portland native, began yelling racial slurs at the two young girls. The girls fled the area, afraid that things would escalate. Christian was quite incensed and using ethnic slurs against not just Muslims but other religions and ethnicities, according to the girls and corroborated by the other train passengers.
Bystanders on the train began to step in to defend the two girls, and what happened was something that no one saw coming. Christian began stabbing the people who were asking him to stop his verbal assault. Ricky John Best, a retired military professional, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche were two men that died as a result of the altercation that ensued. A third victim, 21-year-old Micah Fletcher, was also severely injured.
Dyjuana Hudson, Mangum’s mother, officially sent out a statement thanking those who protected her daughter that day. After the stabbings, Christian was chased by several eyewitnesses and was caught by law enforcement. He has been charged with attempted murder and two counts of aggravated murder. It hasn’t been announced yet whether prosecutors will seek hate crime charges against him. Apparently, this was not the first time that Christian went on a tirade on the same train. Reports say that he had done it the day before, but no one stepped in.
After his arrest, his Facebook account painted a picture of a man who was a member of just about every racist organization that he could find. Compounding the tragedy, the incident happened right at the beginning of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. Although Trump condemned the act, many believe that it is the Trump Administration that is increasing the incidents of bigoted acts across the nation. Some political pundits would suggest that Trump has sent out Islamophobic, anti-immigration and racist Tweets, and they are only perpetuating the increase in hate crimes.
It isn’t just the Portland attack that is concerning many; there was also an incident at the University of Maryland involving the stabbing of African-American students by other (white) students, mosques have reportedly been burned down, and there have been drive-by shootings in Tulsa related to an LGBTQ organization.
So are hate crimes on the rise?
It is hard to discern, because there simply isn’t enough data tracked related to the number of hate crimes across the nation. What a criminal lawyer in Dallas has noticed is that there does seem to be, is a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes in America over the past couple of years.
According to the latest statistics, the Federal Bureau of Investigation found that there was a reported 7% rise in hate crimes in 2015 alone, with a 67% increase in hate crimes that were reported by Muslims. The problem is that unless they are successfully prosecuted, hate crimes are nothing more than subjective. Until better statistics are kept and analyzed, the presumption that they are on the rise is only conjecture.
There is no doubt that anti-Muslim fear is on the rise, but whether it is resulting in more hate crimes is debatable. It is difficult to watch all the violence around the globe traced back to Muslims and not be a little concerned when you see traditional Muslim dress. It is also not clear if the increase has anything to do with the Trump Administration. It is likely a result of what is going on globally.