When politicians use hate speech, political violence increases

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10/02/2020

Politicians deepen existing divides when they use inflammatory language, such as hate speech, and this makes their societies more likely to experience political violence and terrorism. That’s the conclusion from a study I recently did on the connection between political rhetoric and actual violence. President Donald Trump is not the only world leader who is accused of publicly denigrating people based on their racial, ethnic or religious backgrounds. In the 2019 parliamentary campaign in India, politicians from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party targeted Muslims as part of a widespread electoral strategy to galvanize Hindu nationalism. Similarly, in the 2019 Polish election, incumbent president Andrzej Duda made demonization of the LGBT community as well as foreigners the centerpiece of his successful reelection campaign. Hate speech has also figured prominently in the recent rhetoric of political leaders in a variety of countries including Russia, Colombia, Israel, Egypt, Ukraine, the Philippines, Italy, Greece, Sri Lanka and Iraq.

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