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The flood of bomb hoaxes and other violent threats to America’s Jewish organizations may have abated in recent weeks, but the anti-Semitism keeps coming.
In the same week White House press secretary Sean Spicer inelegantly called concentration camps “Holocaust centers” and denied that Hitler used chemical weapons, anti-Semitic graffiti showed up in towns across America and the president’s son-in-law became the victim of an anti-Semitic campaign.
In Warminster, Pennsylvania, someone carved a swastika into a vehicle after slashing its tires Saturday. On the same day, someone spray-painted swastikas on trees and a walking path in a small town in Massachusetts.
On Monday, the Democratic Party of Lubbock, Texas, tweeted that its offices had been defaced with the numbers 14 and 88, popular among neo-Nazis. The graffiti also included a crude version of a cross used by neo-Nazis.
The next day, someone spray-painted swastikas and derogatory language on a Jewish community center and a church within a mile of each other in Fairfax County, Virginia. A 20-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident. It occurred during the Jewish celebration of Passover, which celebrates the liberation of Israelite slaves in Egypt.
“We retell that story generation to generation every year so that we never forget,” Jeff Dannick, executive director of the community center, told The Washington Post. “It’s a painful reminder of how ugly and dangerous the world can be, but also how we can overcome it.”
The week also saw a campaign against Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who is Jewish. Kushner, whose rise in the White House reportedly has taken influence away from white supremacist favorite Steve Bannon, was the target of hateful and anti-Semitic tweets and other social media posts, according to an analysis by the Anti-Defamation League.
What started as a few tweets eventually grew into a campaign involving more than 130,000 mentions of Kushner’s lineage and tweets accusing him of being a “Jewish supremacist,” the league reported.
These anti-Semitic attacks coincided with two big losses for white supremacists and supporters of Trump’s “America first” policies.
Bannon was removed from his position on the National Security Council, leading to speculation that he might be fired altogether from the Trump administration. As Bannon’s stock has dropped, Kushner’s has risen – and the two reportedly have clashed.
And late last week, Trump ordered a missile strike on an airfield in Syria, a move that infuriated many on the far right, who were hoping for an isolationist approach from the president.
By Thursday, well-known American white supremacists were souring on Trump, according to The Daily Dot. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and white separatist leader Richard Spencer say they see Trump as pushing an increasingly pro-Israel agenda and abandoning the isolationist “America first” platform that helped win him support from the far right.
“We haven’t abandoned Trump, but we expect Trump to fulfill his promises,” Duke said. “He made specific promises to the American people. And if he doesn’t keep those promises, our support is not unconditional.”
“I am deeply disappointed in Donald Trump. I’m shocked, and I’m angry. And I am ready to condemn Donald Trump.”
‘He beat me like an animal’
A Muslim woman, who has not been named, was attacked Monday while walking home from morning prayers in Milwaukee. A car pulled alongside her, a man got out and ordered her to remove her headscarf. When she refused, the man allegedly attacked her, stomping on her head and slashing her with a knife.
“He threw me on the floor, then he beat me like an animal,” the woman told the local Fox affiliate.
Local Muslim leaders condemned the attack and urged police to investigate it as a hate crime. Here’s Janan Najeeb, president of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition, quoted in the Journal Sentinel:
“You can’t get a clearer hate crime than this,” Najeeb said. … “This was not a robbery. There was an individual telling her to take her scarf off, ripped it off and started beating her up. This is clearly a hate crime.”
Shocking though the attack was, it wasn’t the week’s first attack on a Muslim woman wearing a hijab. On Saturday, Lisa Sallaj allegedly was attacked in downtown Los Angeles by a man who shouted racial slurs, kicked her dog and beat her on the head.
Sallaj said the man told her to go back to her country – a line that’s become common in hate attacks – and made death threats. Here’s what Sallaj told NBC4 News:
“It’s just really bad that you have to be scared of the people in your own country, which is America for me because I’m American by birth. But it’s also really bad when you feel like you have to go to another country to be safe and you’re not.”
A bizarre hate crime committed by ‘White America’
One of the stranger hate incidents occurred late last week when someone attempted to set fire to a Nepali Indian grocery store in Charlotte, North Carolina. The attacker left a note ranting that immigrants should leave the country and threatening to torture refugees. The note was signed, “White America.”
On Sunday, Charlotte police arrested 32-year-old Curtis Flournoy in connection with the attack. Flournoy is black.
He was charged with multiple counts of criminal damage. By Thursday, members of the Charlotte community had raised $1,335 toward a $2,500 goal to help the victims of the crime. You can donate to the fund here.
We always want to hear about hate incidents that don’t necessarily make it to the news. (Email me at email@example.com.) So, thanks to Peter Larson, who told us about a spate of hate crimes in his neighborhood in Hudson, Wisconsin.
Overnight on April 5th, three rainbow pride American flags were torn off three separate homes and set on fire in the downtown neighborhood of Hudson, WI. For us, this is the third time our home has had our rainbow pride American flag stolen from our house. The first time was on election night. The escalation of multiple homes having flags stolen and burned has now prompted the local police to designate the crimes as potential bias incidents.
Larson sent us this photo of the remnants of his flag:
Catch-up: Rocks thrown in California, knife wielded in Washington
Latina women were the victims of alleged hate-based assaults in California and Washington in March, according to reports this week.
In Malibu, California, a Latina caretaker was walking with a man with special needs March 12 when a group of boys ages 12 to 13 started throwing rocks at them. The boys shouted abuse based on the woman’s race and the man’s disability, the man’s mother told The Malibu Times this week.
The attack is being investigated as a hate crime by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
On March 31, a woman in Auburn, Washington, was chased around her garden by a man carrying a knife, who told her to go back to her own country, according to a report Tuesday in The News Tribune.
Travis Spike Senner, 36, remains in jail.
Long reads on hate
Three hate-related stories caught our eye this week:
- A cold, hard look at the state hate crime statute in Texas: “Few convictions and lots of disappointment,” according to this ProPublica analysis.
- One woman’s account of being transgender in North Carolina in 2017: “I’ve never been more scared to live in North Carolina.”
- A Muslim medical student’s heartening account of a run-in with a racist patient: “This man is my patient. He needs medical help.”
Fighting back: Action on hate
Illinois is being proactive in its fight on hate crimes.
The Illinois State Police will work with the Anti-Defamation League and state Department of Human Rights to develop a program to train police in identifying and investigating hate crimes, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Monday.
“Hate crimes are designed to instill fear in a minority community – to terrorize someone for being a minority – and we have laws in place that recognize the uniqueness of these crimes and increase penalties for them,” Governor Rauner said. “However, having these laws on the books isn’t enough. We need to ensure our law enforcement around the state have the training to recognize, investigate and help bring perpetrators of hate crimes to justice.”
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the date of the attack on a Muslim woman in Milwaukee. It occurred Monday, April 10.