Recent attacks on LGBT centers, mosques, and Jewish cemeteries highlight how different communities must stand together against hatred, writes HRC’s Mary Beth Maxwell.
Over the weekend, an attack on Casa Ruby — a drop-in center serving the LGBTQ community in Washington, D.C. — brought an alarming trend of violence close to home.
The incident there, which involved the assault of a staff member, followed a string of other anti-LGBTQ attacks nationally. Last week, 13 shots were fired at an LGBTQ center in Tulsa, Okla. In New Jersey and Florida, the offices of equality organizations were vandalized a little more than a week apart. Community centers in Minneapolis and Los Angeles have been defaced with anti-LGBTQ graffiti. And in the just the first two months of this year, at least seven transgender women of color have been brutally murdered.
This is part of a broader trend of disturbing and heartbreaking attacks spreading across the country. In just the last month, we have reeled from repeated bomb threats against Jewish community centers, the shooting of a Sikh man in Washington State and two Indian men in a Kansas City bar, which resulted in the death of one of the men, and the burning of four mosques.
While these crimes target people of many races, religions, sexual orientations, and gender identities, the perpetrators of this violence share a similar motivation — hate. And as we seek to combat not just this violence but also what fosters it, we must be honest about the central role political rhetoric and policies play in this culture of hate.
Words of prejudice breed policies of discrimination and policies of discrimination breed acts of violence. The political rhetoric we too often see — from the dog whistles to explicit racism, transphobia, and xenophobia — engenders a toxic environment that puts many within our communities in the cross hairs. Every hateful policy — a Muslim ban, an anti-trans measure, a draconian deportation order — sends a dangerous, emboldening message to those who harbor hate. And every act of violence emboldens another.