FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday July 18, 2019
War Prevention Initiative: “Violent hate speech gives rise to conditions for violence at home and war abroad”
PORTLAND, OR – The War Prevention Initiative (WPI) condemns the vicious and racist attacks by U.S. President Donald J. Trump on U.S. Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. Instead of apologizing or retracting those statements, the President nourished the comments, leading to a chilling “send her back” chant at a campaign rally on July 17, 2019. This kind of violent hate speech gives rise to conditions for violence at home and war abroad.
WPI Executive Director Patrick Hiller stated: “If it were a little fringe group chanting those horrible things, I’d consider it disgusting and shameful. Seeing this at a rally held by the President of the United States, where he cues up the audience’s response and boasts in the hate against a member of Congress, or for that matter anyone, reminds me of everything I learned while growing up in Germany. Germans take ‘never again’ quite seriously, and throughout my educational journey I learned how subtle discriminatory acts turned into socially accepted and officially sanctioned discrimination against many ‘others’. Rallies whipping up hate were an important part of that context, and we very well know the outcome. Moreover, here in the U.S. I’ve never been told to go back home, despite having been born and raised in Germany. I am a white man, and it is one of the many privileges I receive living in Trump’s America. That makes it even more important for me to actively confront racism and other forms of discrimination. It should not be left to those who are the targets of such attacks to address them alone.”
The President has created a context where violence against people of color, particularly women of color, who voice dissent is considered acceptable in civil discourse. It is never acceptable. The normalizing of hate and fear based on a white supremacist ideology is dangerous because it is linked to the spread of violence both domestically and internationally. Data from the Global Terrorism Database show a steady rise in attacks by white supremacists world-wide. The data also show growing connections between white supremacist groups across North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
It is important for people from all sectors of society to nonviolently confront both hate speech and acts of hate. A recent article, “Rethinking civil resistance in the face of rightwing populism” by J. Sombatpoonsiri suggests that non-violent civil resistance needs to address the motivations of rightwing populism. Especially as right-wing populist ideology assists in the justification of hate. Nonviolent civil resistance should do so by identifying and confronting economic and social injustice; and engage in multi-cultural nation-building.
The targets of the President’s attacks Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., deserve to serve as duly elected members of the U.S. Congress without becoming the target of white supremacist violence. At the War Prevention Initiative, we will continue working for a more just and peaceful world, and advocate against hatred and violence.
Attacks by White Extremists Are Growing. So Are Their Connections. Weiyi Cai and Simone Landon. April 3, 2019. New York Times. Accessed July 18, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/03/world/white-extremist-terrorism-christchurch.html
 Making Civil Resistance Work Against Rightwing Populism. April 2019. Peace Science Digest. 4(1) Accessed July 18, 2019. https://peacesciencedigest.org/making-civil-resistance-work-against-rightwing-populism/?highlight=racism