ISSN 2330-717X

Rising Hate Crimes Stimulate Anti-Hate Activities – OpEd

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The FBI reported that hate crimes against Muslims rose in 2015 to their highest levels since the aftermath of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks. In 2015, there were 257 incidents of anti-Muslim bias compared to 154 incidents in 2014, an increase of 67%.

The total is second only to the surge in anti-Muslim hate crimes following the 9/11/01 terror attacks, when 481 incidents against Muslims were reported in 2001.

Scapegoating (blaming innocent minorities for widespread discontent and anxieties within the majority population) is wide spread in the U. S. A. so there are many different groups of people who are victims of hate crimes; which are not only directed against Muslims.

Jews have a very long history of being scapegoated for the ills of various European states, and are especially aware of the danger of scapegoating as an ill-conceived way of solving problems in the general society.

Thank God the anti-haters are now getting aroused, and that Jews are well represented among those opposing the attempt to scapegoat all Muslims for the sins of a very violent politicized few.

In actual numbers the 257 incidents of anti-Muslim bias were less than 5% of all the total 5,850 reported hate crimes, and only 22 percent of the 1402 anti-religious hate crimes. Of 5,850 incidents:

  • 59.2 percent of all victims were targeted because of bias against race or ethnicity;
  • 19.7 percent were victimized because of bias against religion; and
  • 17.7 percent were targeted because of bias against sexual orientation.

There are lots of hate filled individuals in America; and they have lots of different groups that they hate. Of the 1,402 victims of anti-religious hate crimes:

  • 52.1 percent were victims of crimes motivated by anti-Jewish bias.
  • 21.9 percent were victims of anti-Islamic (Muslim) bias.
  • 4.3 percent were victims of anti-Roman Catholic bias.
  • 3.6 percent were victims of anti-Eastern Orthodox Christian bias.
  • 3.4 percent were victims of anti-Protestant bias.

Thus more than 11 percent of victims of anti-religious hate crimes are Christians. But since Christians are over 90 percent of the American population; anti-religious hate crimes against Christians are proportionally very rare.

Since the American Jewish population is about triple the size of the American Muslim population, the Muslim proportion of victims is somewhat higher than the Jewish proportion.

The same is true for the higher proportion of Catholic compared to Protestant victims.

Overall, the number of reported hate crimes increased from 5,479 in 2014 to 5,850 last year, and the number of victims to 7,173 (both persons and property). Religious-based hate crimes increased by 23%. Many people expect that hate crime incidents for 2016 will rise by at least 1-2,000.

On the other hand, the Anti-Defamation League, which combats anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination, saw a 50-fold increase in online donations on the day after the election.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil liberties and outreach group, gained more than 500 volunteers in the two days after the election.

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which supports women’s reproductive rights, received donations from nearly 200,000 people in the week after the election, about 40 times more than in a typical week, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

And the American Civil Liberties Union, which defends the civil rights of individuals, said on Monday it had received more than $7 million from about 120,000 donations over the five days after the election. During the same period after the 2012 election, the group collected less than $28,000 from 354 donations.

And going well beyond the norm, the Jewish head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an anti-bigotry group, has vowed to register as a Muslim if the USA creates a database of Muslim Americans. The idea of a Muslim database arose in November 2015, when Mr Trump told a reporter he would “certainly implement that. Absolutely”.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, said: “If one day Muslim Americans will be forced to register their identities, then that is the day that this proud Jew will register as a Muslim”.

Let us all follow the example of Jonathan Greenblatt and the words of Pope Francis who delivered a ringing plea to the world and his own Catholic Church to reject “the virus of polarization and animosity” and the growing temptation to “demonize” those who are different.


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Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Allen Maller retired in 2006 after 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, Calif. He is the author of an introduction to Jewish mysticism. God. Sex and Kabbalah and editor of the Tikun series of High Holy Day prayerbooks.

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