What Motivates Hate Crimes?
P1. Hate Crimes are defined as a crime motivated by racial, sexual or other prejudice, typically including violence. Hate crimes happen everyday in America and around the world and we are living in a time when hate crimes are growing in popularity. Hate crimes happen in the form of extreme terrorism, violence, and most commonly verbal abuse. However the motivation behind hate crimes is not as simple as prejudice towards a group of people. Many times people just try and find a scapegoat for issues they cannot explain or resolve. It expands to peoples mental health, their place in society, their self esteem and just the nature of humans in general.
P2. A study was conducted at the University of California studied 550 perpetrators of hate crimes to find commonalities in their backgrounds and motives to find the real cause of Hate crimes. What this study found is that perpetrators of hate crimes are not psychopaths or clinically mentally ill. However they are usually very troubled individuals who have high levels of aggression and antisocial behavior. This makes a lot of sense because people who are anti-social are usually very closed off to the world and only know themselves and their kind of people. For example Person 1 has a Muslim friend and understands that not all Muslims are bad and it is only a very small percentage of Muslims who have radical beliefs and are willing to kill and commit acts of terrorism to protect their radical beliefs. Then there is Person 2 who has never had a Muslim friend or has never met a Muslim they are more likely to believe that all muslims are the same way because of the grouse acts of a very small group of people that are portrayed all over the media. With them dealing with high aggression as well they are quicker than most other people to jump to the conclusion and stereotype an everyday person and initiate aggression towards them. An article in the New York Times told the story of Rajpreet Heir a Indiana born United States Citizen who was verbally abused by a white man on the subway. He told her that her people were the cause of all problems going on in the middle east and that he hoped she would get sent back. Rajpreet has absolutely nothing to do with anything going on in the middle east and was simply profiled and attacked. This man probably does not personally know any other muslim people.
P3. That leads into another cause for hate crimes and that is in a time of crisis we as humans protect ourselves and our own people. The man on the subway that verbally abused Heir asked her if she had ever seen a marine and if she understood what they had to go through. It is very possible that this man may be a veteran or he may have family in the military serving overseas. Those are his people he sees it unfair that they have to risk their lives fighting to protect countries other than his own. In many ways this is not a very far fetched idea, we live in a diverse world and people have grouped together to survive since the beginning of time. The reason this does not work very well in America is because there is no determined rules of what you must look like and believe to be an American. Americans come in all different ethnicities, religions and sexualities. This diversity leads to people forming smaller groups such as White America, Black America, LGBT, Latinos… etc. People stick together with the ones they have the most in common with. This becomes a huge problem because we are all Americans and should be in one group not divided. So when someone sees their group or their “America” being affected in a negative way then they begin to blame others they find a scape goat for their problems and stereotype people into larger groups that they may not belong to.
P4. There are levels to the motivation behind hate crimes. For the people who are troubled and anti social that maybe are more controlled, now have a group of people who find it acceptable to commit these crimes. Durning Trump’s presidential campaign he targeted different communities in a very negative way. When he said that many of the immigrants coming from Mexico only brought crime, it made it acceptable for people to dislike people from Mexico because it initiates the mindset that if some of them are brining crime their people as a whole must be bad. The same issue arose when the travel ban was placed. It ignited the mentality that if the President of the United States said that people from select countries could not enter the country they must all be bad. There are many examples of this going on in the world today. When people find a scapegoat that is widely accepted it becomes okay for them to act aggressively towards that scapegoat. So if people who previously did not have a reason to commit a hate crime and showed aggressive and antisocial behaviors now have the motivation to do so as its accepted by the group the group they identify with.
P5. Overall these tendencies in character are usually a direct cause of a persons up brining. If a child grew up in a home where things were dealt with violence or verbal abuse, they are more likely to grow up and handle their problems in the same manor. Also the way they interacted with others while growing up plays a huge part in the motivation behind hate crimes. If people grow up only knowing other people like them it creates an in group bias because they do not know about outside groups. The less people know about other groups the less they empathize with them which makes it easier to go against them and commit these hate crimes. Overall hate crimes are not just about prejudice they are much deeper and it speaks to the character of the way people are raised in America.
Monitor on Psychology. American Psychological Association, n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.
North, Anna. “When Your Commute Includes Hearing ‘You Don’t Belong in This Country’.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 24 Mar. 2017. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.
“Hate Crime Laws.” The United States Department of Justice. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.