As the inimitable Stevie Wonder sang in 1976, “love’s in need of love today,” and especially so.
On the heels of a classic white supremacist American presidency rivaling those of Woodrow Wilson and Andrew Jackson, hate in the homeland has skyrocketed. As a part of their yearly hate crime statistics report, the FBI found that 2020 saw the highest volume of hate crimes since 2008, another curiously relevant year for presidents. The spike was even more dramatic at local levels, such as in Arizona, which recorded its highest number of hate crimes since the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in 2001.
Of hate crimes in 2020, 61.8% were racially motivated, and 56% of those were perpetrated against African Americans. But after more than a year of spiteful rhetoric—sourced from the spitefully nicknamed “Chinese virus”—Asian Americans have largely borne the brunt of racial animosity in 2021. The problem grew so severe that President Biden issued an executive order in response. As of December 5, anti-Asian hate crimes in New York City, where Asian Americans make up over one-tenth of the population, have increased by 361% since 2020, egregiously jumping from 28 incidents to 129.
The trend has been too clear to ignore. In all of 2019, the NYPD reported a single anti-Asian hate crime, but reported 20 in just the first half of 2020, marking a 1,900% increase. Tragically, it gets worse. Though these numbers are already harrowing enough, the amount of hate crimes on American soil remains massively undercounted—not every law enforcement agency submits its records. So, however precipitous these surges may seem, the true figures are guaranteed to exceed them.
While the factors responsible for this banner year of hate may be political, it’s important to recognize that the proliferation of hate itself isn’t a political issue. Politics continue to corrupt free and intelligent thought in America, deforming basic matters of morals and logic into matters of right and left. The average American consults their political affiliation before sharing their opinion on most anything. This is evidenced by the way personal views on abortion, immigration, foreign policy, and race relations are anything but personal, and are almost always dependent on the way individuals vote. As if one couldn’t possibly be both pro-life and pro-Palestine.
Hate, however, is incorruptible. Its presence and power are incontestable facts, as pure as the love it is permanently warring against. At the request of the 101st United States Congress, the FBI has released its hate crime statistics report every year since 1992 to prove that hate is a permanently tangible threat in the union. Because of these reports, we know that when terrorists stunned the country, hate soared. When a Black man became president, hate soared. When a particularly hateful white man was no longer president, hate soared. One’s preferred pundit or politician means nothing to this pattern. Hate is as prolific today as it’s ever been, and it’s essential that we remain honest with ourselves and each other about this.
At a time when hate is growing more pervasive, it is especially irresponsible to suggest anything short of this. Unless you were hateful yourself, you wouldn’t knowingly tell someone to open a door with a lion behind it, and that is what remaining willfully ignorant of hate amounts to. Hate is a destroyer, its brutality limitless, and the failure to acknowledge it—or help others acknowledge it—makes it infinitely more dangerous and constitutes a moral failing of the highest order. Being truly ignorant or innocent, is a separate issue. You can’t warn someone of what you yourself haven’t been warned of. But to send them where you wouldn’t go is an act of malice.
Millions of liberals and conservatives are guilty of this. We don’t see race. We are making progress. We are rounding the corner, so they say, but what we aren’t doing is being honest. Heinous men instigate heinous actions in America, just as they did four, three, two, and one hundred years ago. The inexpressibly wicked sin of slavery proves there’s no limit to what these men can accomplish, and even its abolition was more politically than morally motivated. Those that benefit from American hierarchies and hypocrisies are naturally the last ones to point them out; we should not expect this to change. But let us at least consider the perils of leaving the lion unmentioned. If you love your country, how could you send your compatriot to their death?