Group Salience, Inflammatory Rhetoric, and the Persistence of Hate Against Religious Minorities

30 June 2021, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


Hate crimes surged at several points during and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Observers argued that hate crimes, especially against Muslims, increased due to inflammatory rhetoric. Did anti-Muslim hate crimes decline after the salience of Muslims receded? Or did emboldening and organizational effects on hate crimes endure? Here, we show that a sudden mid-2017 decline in media discussion of Muslims and in online communities was associated with a large and sustained drop in anti-Muslim hate. At nearly the same time as these shifts, however, we observe an increase in violent hate crimes committed against Jews, and Granger causality tests demonstrate that week-to-week changes in online extremist speech targeting one group versus another also predicted subsequent shifts in hate crimes and bias incidents. Platform-level and within-individual analyses of online social media users suggest that increased anti-Jewish speech was partly driven by far-right communities and extremists who previously promoted anti-Muslim speech.


hate speech
hate crimes
social media


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