Hate Crimes in thе Unitеd Statеs

Еvеry day in thе Unitеd Statеs somеonе is a victim of a hatе crimе. Thеsе attacks oftеn takе thе form of vеrbal harassmеnt but somе еnd in violеnt assault or dеath. Rеcеnt studiеs indicatе a risе in thе numbеr of “bias” or “hatе” crimеs sincе 1985. With this incrеasе thе issuе of hatе crimе has comе into thе spotlight all ovеr Amеrica. Thеsе crimеs havе bееn plaguing Amеrica for cеnturiеs, tеaring at thе vеry foundation of this country and dеstroying nеighborhoods and communitiеs. With prеssurе from thе pеoplе of thе Unitеd Statеs, in particular thе African Amеrican and thе gay and lеsbian communitiеs, thе US govеrnmеnt has takеn action.

Many Americans are not affected by hate crimes individually and therefore do not see the huge problem they are. To stop hate crimes from happening, all of America needs to work together. This paper will analyze the effects of and solutions to hate crime and its effects on the American individual and society. There are many reasons why hate crimes need addressing in America today. One is the alarming rate at which hate crimes are growing. In 1995 there were over 7,000 hate crimes committed in the United States. Experts believe that that number will have reached above 10,000 annually by the year 2000.

One might wonder how the number keeps growing. There are many factors that contribute to the growth of hate crimes. One of the main contributors is the fact that hate groups are changing their tactics. One of the ways they are doing this is asserting themselves politically. A good example of this is the election of David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Duke shifted his white supremacist views enough to convince 55 percent of Louisianians to vote for him. He promoted himself as a defender of "white rights" and prompted voters to take back their country.

"Duke was elected not because of his great political history but because of is well documented racial past" says Loretta Ross, founder of the Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, " He was serious about white rights; he gave them (Louisiana voters) the right to practice kinder, gentler white supremacy. " (Ross 5). Each time a hate crime is committed it brings up issues which most people would like to ignore or pretend don’t exist. These issues include racism, sexism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism. When the media brings an issue to the American front, such as a hate crime, the general reaction is " not in our country.

" It is this sort of denial that plagues American comminutes and makes it so hate crimes can be committed in the first place. Wade Henderson; a hate crime researcher puts it perfectly "People need to be aware of what is happening before they can prevent it. "(Lawson 4). Many hate groups in the early 20th century were mainly focused on the hatred of African Americans. The civil rights movement and other groups fighting for equality hindered this goal considerably. In the late 20th century the white supremacist movement needed a new enemy. This enemy is gays and lesbians.

"Antigay harassment and violence in five major US cities jumped 131 percent from 1990-1991. " (Anderson 2). President William Jefferson Clinton is one of those who believe that expanding the definition of a hate crime is part of the answer. "We should make our current laws tougher to include all hate crimes that cause physical harm. We must prohibit crimes committed because of a victim's sexual orientation, gender, or disability. " (Clinton 3) Many others agree with Clinton's statements but they feel that bodily harm is not necessary in hate crimes.

"Hate speech has replaced formal slavery, Jim Crow laws, female subjugatio! n, and Japanese internment," (Delagado 5). Many believe that a person can be targeted by a hate crime and not be physically damaged but psychologically damaged for the rest of their lives. Then there are some who believe that penalties for hate crime offenders should be substantially more than that of a non-hate crime offense of the same caliber. Armstrong Williams is someone who believes that personal responsibility can help reduce hate crimes.

"…(Other anti hate) efforts will pale in comparison with what can be done if individuals take the responsibility upon themselves to prevent stereotypes from developing into hostilities and ultimately into crimes of hate. " (Williams 5) This solution is one that could work, but every citizen of the United States would have to be involved. The people who believe that community action is the key to solving hate crimes believe this also. Klanwatch believes that communities should form anti-hate groups and focus on victim assistance instead o!

f accusing people of the crime. The solutions presented in this paper are valid and will help prevent hate crimes. One thought every American must keep in mind is the first amendment to the Constitution. Freedom of speech is one of the most significant rights given to all Americans but it is by far one of our biggest problems. The price we pay for Freedom of speech and the ability to talk our mind is that we have to tolerate other person's beliefs and opinions. In the final analysis, one can frankly acknowledge that hate is taught.

If each new generation were more tolerant of those who are different, perhaps hatred and prejudice would someday disappear from our world.

Bibliography:

1. Anderson, George. "Gay-Bashing Is a Hate Crime. " Hate Crimes. Ed. Paul Winters, San Diego; Greenhaven Press, 1996. 25-29. 2. Clinton, Bill. "The Definition of Hate Crime Should Be Expanded. " Hate Groups: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. Tamara Roleff, San Diego; Greenhaven Press, 1999. 36-39. 3. Delagado, Richard and Jean Stefancic. "Hate Speech Is a Serious Hate Crimes Problem. " Hate Groups: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. Tamara Roleff, San Diego; Greenhaven Press, 1999. 57-64.

4. Dunbar, Edward. Hate Crime Patterns in Los Angeles County. 7 Nov. 1997. 5. Lawson, Karen and Wade Henderson. "Hate crimes Are a Serious Problem" Hate Groups: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. Tamara Roleff, San Diego; Greenhaven Press, 1999. 17-23. 6. Ross, Loretta. "White Supremacists Groups Promote Hate and Violence. " Hate Groups: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. Tamara Roleff, San Diego; Greenhaven Press, 1999. 77-85. 7. Williams, Armstrong. "Personal Responsibility Can Help Reduce Hate Crimes. " Hate Groups: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. Tamara Roleff, San Diego; Greenhaven Press, 1999. 140-14