Tuesday, September 11, 2007

An End To Hate

Tonight I went to a lecture by author Jack Levin at Moravian College entitled "Why We Hate". He examined hate crimes and their potential causes and origins. Often the perpetrators are feeling defensive because they feel some sort of threat to their economic well being or cultural values, or they are looking for some sort of thrill, or they have a need to feel powerful or in charge. Although the incidence of hate crimes is increasing, membership in organized hate groups is declining. In the 1920s over 4 million Americans belonged to an organized hate group, now it is 50,000. Only 5% of hate crimes are perpetrated by an organized hate group, 95% are by individuals acting alone or with a few others.

He stated that one of the greatest factors that allows discrimination and prejudice to occur is the silence of spectators. He sites Germany during World War II and also more recently the segregation laws in the American South as examples. He believes ordinary people can make a significant difference by having the courage to speak up or intervene. To end hate crimes, it is essential to foster interdependence among groups of people, working together for common goals. As we co-operate and truly know each other, prejudices will begin to fall away.

So, the end to hate can be brought about by speaking up for victims of discrimination and refusing to tolerate any form of prejudice. Also, looking for opportunities to enhance communication, co-operation, and interdependence among diverse groups of people can begin to eliminate disunity. Once again, these are actions that ordinary people can take in the course of everyday life.


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