The Christian Science Monitor reports that a recent spate of hate-related incidents around the country has raised a troubling question: Is there something about the mood in the US today – perhaps spurred by Americans dying in combat abroad, plus the cultural and political war at home over issues like same-sex marriage, judgeships, and immigration – that is leading in some instances to threats and attacks? “Public discourse has become meaner and more cruel-spirited in general,” says Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), who monitors hate groups and extremist activities in the US.
Recent incidents include cross burnings in North Carolina, threats against gay students on an Oregon campus, disruptions of anti-immigration meetings by those charging border vigilantes with racism, anti-Semitic graffiti in the Queens borough of New York, a whites-only group recruiting in Michigan, white separatists harassing Japanese residents in Las Vegas, and a rise in anti-Muslim activity. Such trends can be difficult to gauge. As the subject grows in public consciousness, incidents that may have gone unreported in the past now become known, giving the sense of an increasing problem. But one experts says, “I have seen what appears to be an increase in anger toward gay people and immigrants, as well as anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.”