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Hate crimes reportedly jumped by 226 percent in counties that hosted Trump campaign rallies

The president frequently gets called out for failing to forcefully condemn white nationalism.

Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Words really do have consequences.

According to a new study reported by The Washington Post, counties that hosted political rallies with Donald Trump as the headliner in 2016 saw a 226 percent increase in hate crimes over comparable counties that did not host such a rally in subsequent months.

The three researchers behind the analysis, who are all professors or graduate students of political science at the University of North Texas, aimed to find out whether Trump’s divisive rhetoric on the campaign trail played a role in emboldening white nationalists. Using data from the Anti-Defamation League that maps out reported incidents of hate crimes, the authors designed a metric to measure how Trump’s campaign rallies correlated with incidences of hate crimes.

Their findings: “Trump’s rhetoric may encourage hate crimes.”

Of course, correlation does not imply causation, which the authors note. “Our analysis cannot be certain it was Trump’s campaign rally rhetoric that caused people to commit more hate crimes in the host county,” the authors state. But, they add:

However, suggestions that this effect can be explained through a plethora of faux hate crimes are at best unrealistic. In fact, this charge is frequently used as a political tool to dismiss concerns about hate crimes. Research shows it is far more likely that hate crime statistics are considerably lower because of underreporting.

Similarly, the researchers do not suggest that Trump directly caused any of these crimes, either. But there are certainly a number of cases in which the president declined to outright condemn messages and incidents that peddled hate.

Trump seldom takes a tough stance on white nationalism

Over the course of his presidency, Trump has earned a reputation for making outrageously provocative or outright racist statements, while also declining opportunities to forcefully condemn those who espouse white supremacy.

Just look to Trump’s response to the Charlottesville rallies in 2017, when neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched shouting hate-filled remarks like “Jews will not replace us!” while giving the Nazi salute. “There’s blame on both sides” for the violence, Trump said in reference to the counter-protesters at the rally. One of those counter-protesters was Heather Heyer, who was mowed down by a car and killed by an avowed Nazi sympathizer .

After the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting last October that left 11 people dead, Trump called the shooting “pure evil” and decried “vile, hate-filled poison of anti-Semitism” on Twitter. But Jewish leaders threatened to block Trump from attending funeral services until he publicly denounced white nationalism.

Similar themes cropped up last week after a shooter in New Zealand killed 50 Muslims after releasing a manifesto that was deeply laced in the rhetoric of white supremacy. Again Trump was pressed to address whether he saw a rise in white nationalism. And again, he resisted condemning the movement outright.

”I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems,” he told reporters in the Oval Office. “If you look what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet.”