The Southern Poverty Law Center reports the number of hate groups in America has skyrocketed since 2016, reaching 1,020 in 2018. Most are white supremacist and neo-Nazi. While members also hate other minorities, “the Jew” is their number one enemy.

As the prevalence of hate groups rises, the FBI reports an increase in hate crimes. "Domestic terrorism" is now the greatest threat facing the US.

In October 2018, a shooter killed 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue in the worst violence against Jews in US history. The shooter told a police officer that he wanted all Jews to die because Jews were committing genocide against his people.

Six months later, there was a shooting in a California synagogue. The shooter said, "They're destroying our people. I'm defending my nation against the Jewish people, who are destroying the white race."

This white genocide conspiracy theory holds that George Soros, Holocaust survivor and global philanthropist, aided by Jews around the world, finances global immigration and the destruction of white majorities throughout Europe and the US.

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In 2017, extremists marched in Charlottesville Virginia,, arms outstretched in Nazi salutes, shouting, “Jews will not replace us!”

Some perspective: Jews are 2% of the US population and 0.18% of the world’s population. The proportion of Jews in Germany in 1933, when Hitler came to power? 0.7 percent. In all of Europe in 1933? 1.7%.

Last week a medical resident at the Cleveland Clinic was stripped of her licensure. She posted on social media that she would purposely give the wrong medicine to Jews.

In August 2019, the message Kikes (Jews) Must Die and a swastika were scrawled at the entrance of a Minneapolis elementary school, the 17th reported antisemitic message that year.

Three months ago, swastikas and “Seig Heil, Heil Hitler, Trump 2020” were painted on a bench near my Minneapolis synagogue.

What motivates such hate? The year 2042. By 2042, Americans who identify as Hispanic, Black, Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander will together outnumber non-Hispanic whites. Jews are blamed for the "white genocide," but all non-whites and non-Christians are targets.

Today’s pandemic is accompanied by the virus of hate. Infectious diseases have claimed more lives than all wars, non-infectious diseases, and natural disasters combined. And like every pandemic, COVID-19 is not just a health issue. Politicians and groups exploit fear of the disease to scapegoat vulnerable minorities.

In 2015, the World Health Organization published guidelines for naming infectious diseases, discouraging references to terms that “incite undue fear” —to avoid social stigma. Yet Trump calls COVID-19 the “Wuhan virus” and the “kung flu.”

Although Asian Americans are 6% of the U.S. population, they are 18% of our physicians. Some COVID-19 patients now refuse to be treated by them.

Fully 28% of physicians in the US, nearly one-third, are immigrants and refugees.

My husband has multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer. He is treated at the Mayo Clinic with world-class care from people who come from all over the world – from places that Trump labels sh*thole countries; countries whose residents he calls rapists and drug-dealers, and Muslim-majority countries whose people, we’re told, are terrorists and should be banned from the US. Every one of my husband's doctors has a non-European name and skin darker than mine.

The staff at Mayo are heroes. Yet the poison of hate is directed at people like them by Americans who want the US only for white Christian Europeans.

We are on the edge of our humanity. We are sick with hate. We must cure this disease, a disease worse than COVID-19, before it destroys us.

Ellen J. Kennedy, Ph.D. is executive director of World Without Genocide.