Hate in America is a dreadful, daily constant. The dragging death of a black man in Jasper, Texas; the crucifixion of a gay man in Laramie, Wyoming.; and post-9.11 hate crimes against hundreds of Arab Americans, Muslim Americans and Sikhs are not "isolated incidents." They are eruptions of a nation's intolerance.
Hate — and the actions it begets — are a stain on the moral consciousness of this country and most countries and communities around the world. We continue to struggle with the impact of our biases, stereotypes and prejudices on those who are different from us, those who don't share our views and perspectives and those who are less powerful than we are. The impact of our hate for others shows up not only in prejudicial and discriminatory treatment but ultimately results in war, interpersonal and trans-personal violence and even genocide.
In 2007, 2,025 law enforcement agencies reported 7,624 hate crime incidents involving 9,006 offenses. There were 7,621 single-bias incidents that involved 8,999 offenses, 9,527 victims, and 6,962 offenders.
— FBI, Civil rights/hate Crimes
The incidences of total hate crimes involving race and religion fell in America in 2007, according to the FBI, but “incidents related to sexual orientation and ethnicity showed increases, according to federal statistic.” (Washington Post, October 28, 2008.) These numbers give us hope, but we know that many hate crimes – maybe even most — go unreported and the victims bear the impact of those crimes in silence.
Hate is a learned behavior; we have long known that fact. What is required to “unlearn” hate and learn to respect and better understand those who are different from us is a conscious and consistent education effort that must be begun in our homes and spread into every aspect of our lives. This requires a real commitment and it must be undertaken by all of us and sustained by resources and energy over the long haul.