Our VoiceImmigration

Hatred Rising

Jill Garvey • Sep 14, 2010

It appears that racially motivated attacks continue to rise in the second year following President Obama’s election and many of these crimes are connected to organized white supremacy.

On August 26, a boy was attacked by three men who identified themselves as white supremacists in Redlands, California. The three men have yet to be identified or apprehended.

In a another case, Aaron Schmidt, a man suspected in the 2009 racially-motivated murder of Kelly Jaeger, was arrested in Tennessee on September 1. Schmidt and four accomplices shot at Kelly and her male friend after harassing the couple and asking her friend, “What are you doing with a white woman?”

Three other suspects in the murder were arrested in Phoenix and one is still at large. Schmidt and the other suspects are members of the Vinlanders Social Club, a Phoenix-area neo-Nazi group. Interestingly, despite the attackers’ affiliation to organized white supremacy, and the fact that racism was a clear motive for targeting the couple, the Phoenix police did not deem Kelly’s murder a hate crime.

Hate groups operating in the U.S. have risen by 54% since 2000 and especially since the election of President Obama. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) identified 926 hate groups active in 2008, up more than four percent from the 888 groups in 2007 and far above the 602 groups documented in 2000.

More recently, amid conspiracy theories purporting that Obama is Muslim and angry anti-Muslim rhetoric, it has been speculated that an epidemic of anti-Muslim crimes are occurring. Whether this is an epidemic or a prolonged backlash from 9/11 remains to be seen, but one thing is sure: increasing activity by organized racist groups, including the anti-immigrant variety, is a contributor.

But that probably comes as no surprise to communities of color. In 2008 alone, the last year hate crime statistics became available, of 4,704 racially motivated offenses, 72.6% stemmed from bigotry against Blacks. Blacks are more likely to be victims of hate crime than any other identity group in the United States. In the last decade alone nearly 40,000 hate crimes against Blacks have been recorded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That’s over 3,000 incidents targeting Blacks per year.

If the American Muslim community is wondering if Islamophobic attacks will continue, the answer might be found in visiting America’s unrelenting bias against the Jewish community. In 2008, of 1,606 hate crimes motivated by religious intolerance, 65.7% were anti-Jewish in nature.

When violent rhetoric is embedded in mainstream American dialogue, people feel justified in acting out their bigoted aggressions against one another. Blacks unquestionably are the most often targeted by organized racism, but white supremacists also continue to promote hate against the LGTBQ and Jewish communities. And anti-immigrant hate groups have injected violent rhetoric into mainstream debates and contributed to attacks on Latinos and Muslims.

No one will be safe if organized hate groups reach epically powerful proportions.

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