"When President Trump talks about the rally in Charlottesville and says there are good people on both sides, it doesn't send the direct and clear message we would want, that this type of bigotry, racism and anti-Semitism is just not acceptable," notes Scott Levin, the ADL's regional director.
The numbers are disturbing. From January 1 to September 30, 2016, the ADL counted 23 anti-Semitic occurrences in the state. Within that frame this year, there have been 46, or a 100 percent increase. And that's not to mention incidents targeting other groups, including refugees, immigrants, Muslims, Latinos, African-Americans and members of the LGBTQ community. ADL stats show 24 instances of harassment and threats in Colorado, 21 cases of vandalism, and one physical assault against a Jewish individual.
The activities of William Scott Planer, which we've covered in this space, offer an example. In July, the Capitol Hill white supremacist was arrested for putting an anti-Semitic sticker on the door of Chabad Lubavitch Jewish Center in Colorado Springs — and after his arrest, authorities discovered that he'd been accused of assault with a deadly weapon in regard to a 2016 clash in California.
In August, we reported about hateful vandalism at a second synagogue in the Springs, Temple Beit Torah. More recently, a swastika was carved into the door of a Jewish couple living in Lafayette, swastikas appeared in three Durango subdivisions, and an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights confirmed anti-Semitic activity at West Jefferson Middle School in Conifer.
Other scenarios tracked by the ADL "can be everything from a hate crime, where there's actually some form of direct harassment or violence against someone or vandalism of a property, to being a non-criminal-type event where someone uses fairly dramatic hate speech based on anti-Semitic tropes." Levin adds, "I've seen more swastikas this year than I've ever noticed before, and I've been the director of this region for seven years."
What's changed? Levin has a theory.
Levin understands "that anti-Semitism has been around for a very long time. But it's a bit of a bellwether, because things like this are not just happening with Jewish people. These incidents are also happening to people with other religions — Muslims, in particular — and people of color in general. And empowering people to express themselves in the worst way starts at the top. We really need our leaders, starting with the President of the United States, to speak out about this."
Presumably, Levin isn't holding his breath.