Religious Hate & Intolerance is Nothing New in America

Following the attacks of Sept. 11, a few racists decided, somehow, that the terrorism could be associated with any American that looked possibly Arab in heritage. These idiots harassed, physically assaulted and, sadly, even murdered people whose only sin was to wear the wrong type of headgear or have skin that was just too brown.

In San Francisco, an Iraqi grocer found "Terrorist Go Home" spray painted on his storefront. In Mesa, Arizona, a Sikh gas station owner was murdered by a pickup driver who, when stopped by the police shouted, "I stand for America all the way." (Which is, sadly, true). In San Gabriel, California an Egyptian grocer was murdered although no money was taken.

These and hundreds of others have been reported to local law enforcement as well as the FBI as hate crimes. Since Sept. 11, 800 cases of alleged hate crimes have been reported nation-wide by the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Southern California. In Los Angeles alone, the Los Angeles Police Department has logged at least 32. The Southern Poverty Law Center has compiled a list of 134 hate crimes from all over the nation since the terrorist's attacks.

Yet, the FBI and local law enforcement have no common definition of what constitutes a hate crime. Most states have no true laws that recognizes a crime driven by hate as a separate crime nor is there a standard reporting requirement. In some states, only specific crimes, such as murder, can be considered hate crimes while in others like California, any crime driven by hate such as murder or assault or vandalism and even verbal threats, adds further punishment to a conviction.

Now, from all of this one would gather that hate crimes were too small of a problem to consider before the attacks but have escalated beyond imagination since. That would be the wrong conclusion.

Exactly one month before the attacks, the Attorney General of California, Bill Lockyer, reported that hate crimes in the state that crimes related to religion had risen from 33% with anti-Semitic hate crimes constituting the majority of that increase. He also reported that while the actual total of crimes decreased by 5% statewide, California had the highest of hate crimes of any state. In total, between 1996 and 2000, statewide religion-motivated hate crimes increased from 227 to 301. The number of anti-Semitic crimes increased from 166 to 236.

What can only be concluded is that hate is, for many Americans, just a way of life. While Jews have always been the targets of the racists and the fascists and the average members of the Republican Party, the attacks of last September has opened new and heretofore unfamiliar grounds. Now, rather than trying to determine who the Jews are, all that these dregs of society have to do is look for the turban or the brown skin. Suddenly, the job of being the scum of the Earth has been made easier and, in their sick minds, racism and hate crimes have become a patriotic act against those "Sand Niggers" and "Rag Heads".

America is full of hate, as the popularity of such mean spirited and downright contemptible malignancies as Rush Limbaugh and G. Gordon Liddy so eloquently reveal. The only difference between Sept. 10 and Sept. 11 is that these abominations once told us to hate Liberals and gays and women and single mothers and Femi-Nazis and pro-choice Americans but now tell us to hate the Taliban. Then they tell us not to hate Muslims but fail to explain to their weak minded listeners the differences between Americans who follow the teachings of Islam and the fanatics that warp that belief system into the Taliban doctrine.

It is up to the Americans who maintain their sense of decency, their sense of right and wrong, to take the initiative in returning some sense to this nation. Even as we murder Afghan civilians in our sick and futile attempts to stop terrorism by engaging in more state sponsored terrorism, we must speak out for the power that the family of man offers. We must speak out and take this nation back from the grasp of hate and greed that has engulfed the country's collective soul. ( 1 & 2 )

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Copyright 11/18/01