The Spread of Hate and Racism: Confronting a Growing Public Crisis

The Forum

Presented jointly with PRI’s The World & WGBH
February 13, 2019

Reports of hate crimes are on the rise in the United States. From Charlottesville to Orlando to Pittsburgh, hate and extremism are combusting into violence, leaving communities reeling and asking, why? At the same time, messages of discrimination, intolerance and extremism are spreading in person and online, casting a shadow of hostility that has real and measurable health impacts on vulnerable populations. What social, political and psychological forces drive prejudice? How do modern media and the Internet enable and amplify hateful and racist messages? What are the impacts on the health and cohesion of society — and what can be done?


Brief video clips

Ninety-eight percent of extremist-related murders are committed by right-wing extremists, says Oren Segal (Center on Extremism, Anti-Defamation League), and 2018 was the fourth-deadliest year for such crimes since the ADL began tracking them in the 1970s.


Exposure to discrimination—big or small, online or in person—have been linked to negative health effects, such as premature death, says David Williams (Harvard Chan School).


Teaching tolerance in schools today is a key to stamping out hate in our society tomorrow, says Maureen Costello (Teaching Tolerance/Southern Poverty Law Center).


MIT researchers recently showed that falsehoods travel faster than facts online, and to combat these messages and the hate that they generate, we need to reexamine how social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook work, says Dipayan Ghosh (Harvard Kennedy School).


Led by moderator Phillip Martin (WGBH News), panelists Oren Segal (Center on Extremism, Anti-Defamation League), David Williams (Harvard Chan School), Dipayan Ghosh (Harvard Kennedy School), Maureen Costello (Southern Poverty Law Center), and Jim Doyle (Former Governor and Attorney General of Wisconsin) share their closing thoughts on how to combat the rise of hate and racism in the United States.


The Spread of Hate and Racism: Confronting a Growing Public Crisis, presented jointly with PRI’s The World & WGBH, occurred on Wednesday, February 13, 2019.

Expert Participants

Maureen Costello
Director of Teaching Tolerance and Member of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Senior Leadership Team

Jim Doyle
Health Care Lawyer and Former Governor and Attorney General of Wisconsin

Dipayan Ghosh
Pozen Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School

Oren Segal
Director, Center on Extremism, Anti-Defamation League

David Williams
Chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences


Phillip Martin
Senior Investigative Reporter, WGBH News

Watch the entire series: