P1. Hate crimes have long been a problem in American society. From the lynching of African Americans in the time of slavery and for a period of time post slavery, to the murder of Emmit Till in 1941, Jim Crow laws that were in place until 1965, and more recently the targeting of Muslims after 9/11, as well as the Charleston Massacre in 2015. Hate crimes are a reality in this world and can be motivated by many different reasons. The term “hate crime” arose from a 1968 Statue that was created and made it a crime to use or threaten to use, force to willfully interfere with any person because of race, color, religion, or national origin and because the person is participating in a federally protected activity, such as public education, transportation, employment… etc. Terrorism is defined as the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.The hate crime statue is a great thing because targeting a group of people for their race religion or sexual preference is terrorism. So it is counterintuitive that a country fighting terrorism is participating in terrorism many times on a smaller scale but not always.
P2. Hate crimes are many times tricky because people do not get convicted for hate crimes. Perpetrators are tried for the crime they committed (assault, murder, robbery… etc) and if discovered that the crime was motivated by any kind of prejudice, it may allow the court to extend the sentence of the person being tried. However it is left to the prosecutor to find the motivation of the crime unless the suspect openly admits his motivation and present it to the court which will then arrive at a conclusion.
P3.The New York Times reports hate crimes and incidents in a section called “This Week in Hate.” One of the articles was about Rejpreet Heir a young women born in Indiana who was riding the subway when she was verbally assaulted by a man. He began by asking her if she knew what United States Marines had to see and go through for this country because of people like her. The man was clearly referring to the conflicts going on in the middle east involving ISIS and other terrorist groups that identify with the muslims religion. Heir has brown skin and resembles someone who might be of middle eastern descent, which is why the man targeted her. The then proceeded to say that she did not belong in this country saying “I hope you get sent back to Lebanon.”
P4.There are many morally wrong aspects to what this man did such as targeting a random civilian to take out his frustration for the issues happening today. Heir did not initiate the man she was just taking a ride on the subway, she was targeted by the man’s prejudice. However what I find the most counterintuitive is that this man is wrongly discriminating and harassing someone who is part of his group. Just like the white man who committed the abuse, Heir is an American citizen who was born in America, which is something the two have in common. In the middle east a radical group of Muslims by the name of ISIS are killing people who don’t follow the extreme beliefs that they do. Although not as severe, in a sense the man was doing the same thing by publicly humiliating this women who he believed had opposing beliefs and belonged to that group of people.
P5. By law that incident that occurred on the subway was not considered a hate crime punishable by prison its simply one of thousands of discrimination acts that happen daily. However one can argue that although the act was not physically violent it was verbal and mental abuse. Heir was publicly embarrassed for something she absolutely nothing to do with her. She has to deal with the mental damage done by the words he said. She felt rejected by her own group of people as she is an American and another American was excluding her from the group labeling her as Lebanese while the people around simply acted as bystanders and did not come to her aid. Although no violent acts were caused the man was clearly motivated by his own prejudice.
P6.That however is not always the case there have been many times when people have crosses the line of verbal abuse. Jude Joffe-Block a journalist for NIOT.Org reported on an incident in Phoenix AZ. A homosexual couple moved into a neighborhood. In the months following their move they experienced a number of break ins, and vandalism to their property. However no arrest were made and no one can actually prove that the crimes committed were motivated by prejudice. However one can assume is motivated by hate if these acts vandalism are not a regularity in the community. The police department has just allowed this to keep occurring because there is no solid proof of this being a hate crime. It is just another instance that shows how difficult it is to classify a crime as a hate crime.
P7. In the first couple of weeks of President Trump being in office reporting of hate crimes have surged. Trump received much of his support for his views on immigration stating that immigrants bring crime to America. In reality immigrants commit less crime than native born American citizens. However his promises of building a wall, deporting millions and closing our borders gained him a tremendous following. While in offie we have seen that his immigration policies and remarks have been ineffective and he ended up doing more harm than good. Now prejudice is at a high and demonizing the people we live with is tearing apart our country not growing us together. It is almost as if people are afraid of minorities becoming the majority which is still far from happening so they begin to spew hate and prejudice to avoid that happening. However the motivation behind hate crimes is much more complex.
P8. People do not just wake up one day and decide to begin to hate a certain group of people enough to commit a crime against them. 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. Hate crimes have extremely negative affects on the mentality of those targeted. Ervin Staub, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst says, “When people are victimized as individuals or as a group, it creates a diminished sense of self, a view that the world is a more dangerous place.” This only increases the divide between groups in America which leads to more civil issues and puts us further and further away from conflict resolution.
P9. 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. Psychologist Edward Dunbar, PhD,”These people are not psychotic, but they’re consistently very troubled, very disturbed, very problematic members of our community who pose a huge risk for future violence,.” 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. The article in the New York Times that told the story of Rajpreet Heir 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.
P10. 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.”We’re in a mode where we feel like we have to protect ourselves, where we feel that everyone who is clearly not ‘us’ needs to be scrutinized,” says Ervin Staub, PhD. 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,Charles Judd, PhD explained,”When you meet a person who’s a member of an outgroup, you’re less likely to individuate them, to pay attention to individual characteristics, than when you meet members of your in group.” 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 scapegoat for their problems and stereotype people into larger groups that they may not belong to. While most Americans will not act upon these feelings of mistrust for other groups, a small percentage of the population will participate in name hurling and even go as far as full blown hate crime.
P11. 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. when in reality “the percentage of the population that is foreign-born grew to 13.1 percent from 7.9 percent between 1990 and 2013. F.B.I. data shows that the violent crime rate dropped 48 percent during that time and today remains near historic lows.” (Soros NY Times) 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.
P12. 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.
P13. Not everyone agrees with the hate crime statue of 1968. In the Declaration of Independence it says, “All men are created equal,” but how true does that hold today? Today in age people have their own opinions about everything. America is the land of the free which allows many different ideas to flow. As the last presidential election advanced the American people began to see many clear divides within the American people. On the topic of hate crimes there are many people who believe hate crime laws should not exist, because rather than help avoid conflict and unify people it is creating a larger divide and reinforce that Blacks are different than Whites. While the opposing side does not believe people should not be punished for their crimes they just believe that the hate crime laws should be repealed and not affect the case.
P14. The argument that hate crimes do not exist and hate crime laws to more damage than good. This would be a valid argument if and only if all people were treated equally. America has an extensive history of racism and inequality starting from the time this land was settled. The white man came and took the land of the native Americans. Fast forward a few years and later came the importation of African American slaves. They were treated poorly like animals and were not seen as human. After the Civil War when the slaves were freed, America was still a white mans country, African Americans were still extremely mistreated and had little to no opportunity to get ahead and live a normal life equal to that of the white man. This carried on for over one hundred years until the civil rights movement, but prior to the civil rights movement Blacks and Whites were segregated and Blacks got the short end of the stick with poorly maintained schools and public amenities. Although we have come extremely far as a country we are far from seeing everyone as equal, and its no longer just an issue of African American and Whites, now there are hispanics, asians, and people from the middle east. If hate crime laws were not in place it is very likely that this country would still be like it was before the civil rights movement, because the majority will control everything while the minorities have no power or say.
P15. Another topic people may argue is that the justice system in America has been proven to be in favor of the middle and upperclass caucasian male. There are countless examples of the same crime being committed by people of two different races and the evidence shows that the caucasian person most of the time gets a lighter sentence. For example more recently the case of Brock Turner and Cory Batey. They were both college athletes who committed rape while girls were under the influence. Turner only received 6 months but ended up receiving no jail time because the judge felt that Brock was truly sorry and was an outstanding athlete. Cory Batey on the other hand received 15 years of prison. The crime was very similar almost identical while part of it could’ve been that Brock had a better lawyer however the drastic difference severity of punishment is astonishing. Another issue going on in America is police brutality towards minorities. Over the past couple of years there have been multiple murders of unarmed minorities by police officers. Many times the police officers who committed these offenses were let free. The divide in America is too deeply embedded in our way of being that for everyone to be equal is not a realistic goal. Which is why I emphasize that hate crime laws are necessary because it does help even the scale and the system can sometimes work for people who deserve justice.
P16. Hate crimes are very real and relevant especially in todays world. Although a good statue is in place a better one needs to be presented. One that makes it easier to differentiate hate crimes, because hate crimes are a form of terrorism the same issue that we are fighting for overseas. ISIS killing innocent people who don’t follow their muslim values is the same as attacking a hispanic person who may be an American Citizen simply for not being white or for being hispanic. It happens everyday in America, minorities being attacked it is not publicized because its not a good look for the country but it does indeed happen. Finally even though everyone is equal and no one race religion or belief is superior to others everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, no one should be dehumanized for being themselves. There should be no divide, we should unite all together as Americans more than anything else. That is the only way this country will continue to progress.
-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.
-Soros, George. “George Soros: When Hate Surges.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 16 Mar. 2017. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.
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