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August 25, 2015 0

When Hateful Speech Leads to Hate Crimes: Taking Bigotry Out of the Immigration Debate

By Jonathan Green­blatt
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

When police arrived at the scene in Boston, they found a Latino man shak­ing on the ground, his face appar­ently soaked in urine, with a bro­ken nose.  His arms and chest had been beaten.  One of the two broth­ers arrested and charged with the hate crime report­edly told police, “Don­ald Trump was right—all these ille­gals need to be deported.”

The vic­tim, a home­less man, was appar­ently sleep­ing out­side of a sub­way sta­tion in Dorch­ester when the per­pe­tra­tors attacked.  His only offense was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The broth­ers attacked him for who he was—simply because he was Latino.

In recent weeks anti-immigrant—and by exten­sion anti-Latino—rhetoric has reached a fever pitch.  Immi­grants have been smeared as “killers” and “rapists.”  They have been accused of bring­ing drugs and crime.  A radio talk show host in Iowa has called for enslave­ment of undoc­u­mented immi­grants if they do not leave within 60 days.  There have been calls to repeal the 14th Amendment’s guar­an­tee of cit­i­zen­ship to peo­ple born in the United States, with alle­ga­tions that peo­ple come here to have so-called “anchor babies.”  And the terms “ille­gal aliens” and “ille­gals”— which many main­stream news sources wisely rejected years ago because they dehu­man­ize and stig­ma­tize people—have resurged.

The words used on the cam­paign trail, on the floors of Con­gress, in the news, and in all our liv­ing rooms have con­se­quences.  They directly impact our abil­ity to sus­tain a soci­ety that ensures dig­nity and equal­ity for all.  Big­oted rhetoric and words laced with prej­u­dice are build­ing blocks for the pyra­mid of hate.

Biased behav­iors build on one another, becom­ing ever more threat­en­ing and dan­ger­ous towards the top.  At the base is bias, which includes stereo­typ­ing and insen­si­tive remarks.  It sets the foun­da­tion for a sec­ond, more com­plex and more dam­ag­ing layer: indi­vid­ual acts of prej­u­dice, includ­ing bul­ly­ing, slurs, and dehu­man­iza­tion.  Next is dis­crim­i­na­tion, which in turn sup­ports bias-motivated vio­lence, includ­ing hate crimes like the tragic one in Boston. And in the most extreme cases if left unchecked, the top of the pyra­mid of hate is genocide.

Just like a pyra­mid, the lower lev­els sup­port the upper lev­els.  Bias, prej­u­dice and discrimination—particularly touted by those with a loud mega­phone and cheer­ing crowd—all con­tribute to an atmos­phere that enables hate crimes and other hate-fueled vio­lence.  The most recent hate crime in Boston is just one of too many.  In fact, there is a hate crime roughly every 90 min­utes in the United States today.  That is why last week ADL announced a new ini­tia­tive, #50StatesAgainstHate, to strengthen hate crimes laws around the coun­try and safe­guard com­mu­ni­ties vul­ner­a­ble to hate-fueled attacks. We are work­ing with a broad coali­tion of part­ners to get the ball rolling.

Laws alone, how­ever, can­not cure the dis­ease of hate.  To do that, we need to change the con­ver­sa­tion.  We would not sug­gest that any one person’s words caused this tragedy – the per­pe­tra­tors did that; but the rhetor­i­cal excesses by so many over the past few weeks give rise to a cli­mate in which prej­u­dice, dis­crim­i­na­tion, and hate-fueled vio­lence can take root.

Rea­son­able peo­ple can dif­fer about how we should fix our bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem, but stereo­types, slurs, smears and insults have no place in the debate.

Immi­grants have been a fre­quent tar­get of hate, and unfor­tu­nately, prej­u­dice and vio­lence are not new.  Many of our ances­tors faced sim­i­lar prej­u­dice when they came to the United States. In the 1800s, the attacks were against Irish and Ger­man immi­grants. Next was a wave of anti-Chinese sen­ti­ment cul­mi­nat­ing with the Chi­nese Exclu­sion Act in 1882. Then the hatred turned on the Jews, high­lighted by the lynch­ing of Leo Frank in 1915.  Then came big­otry against Japan­ese immi­grants and peo­ple of Japan­ese dis­sent, which led to the shame­ful intern­ment of more than 110,000 peo­ple dur­ing World War II.  Today, anti-immigrant big­otry largely focuses on Lati­nos.  The tar­gets have changed, but the mes­sages of hate remain largely the same.  It is long past time for that to end.

ADL, as a 501©(3), does not sup­port or oppose can­di­dates for elec­tive office,but we have a sim­ple mes­sage for all pol­i­cy­mak­ers and can­di­dates:  There is no place for hate in the immi­gra­tion debate.  There is noth­ing patri­otic or admirable about hatred and hate-fueled vio­lence.  The only accept­able response to hate crimes is unequiv­o­cal, strong con­dem­na­tion.  And the same is true for the bias, prej­u­dice, and big­oted speech that have recently per­me­ated the immi­gra­tion conversation.

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December 19, 2014 6

How Europe Can Do More to Fight Anti-Semitism and Hate Crime

Many peo­ple ask: What are gov­ern­ments doing to com­bat anti-Semitism and hate crime?  The sober­ing answer can be found ina score­card on Europe’s response to anti-Semitism and hate crime  which doc­u­ments where most coun­tries are falling far too short. ADL is push­ing back with leading-edge analy­sis and advo­cacy in the 57 coun­tries from North Amer­ica, Europe and Eura­sia that make up the Orga­ni­za­tion for Secu­rity and Coop­er­a­tion in Europe (OSCE).


ADL’s Direc­tor of Gov­ern­ment and National Affairs, Stacy Bur­dett spoke directly to gov­ern­ments this week in Vienna, Aus­tria, where they were gath­ered to dis­cuss the fight against intol­er­ance.  She pre­sented the score­card and ADL’s Global 100 sur­vey to the 57 gov­ern­ments and out­lined model prac­tices and steps they could take to part­ner with com­mu­ni­ties to address anti-Semitism and hate crime.  Since a stun­ning 72 per­cent of OSCE coun­tries do not report or report zero hate crimes, ADL chal­lenged gov­ern­ments to reject “the false and super­fi­cial notion that report­ing a rise in hate crime makes a city or coun­try look like a dan­ger­ous place to live” and told them, “it means your coun­try is a safer place to call the police, where the pub­lic trusts them to take hate crime seriously.”

ADL also urged gov­ern­ments to take a hard look at hate inci­dents tar­get­ing com­mu­ni­ties reported by 109 Non-Governmental Orga­ni­za­tions (NGOs) in 45 OSCE coun­tries and where there was no gov­ern­ment mon­i­tor­ing.  Ms. Bur­dett told them, “You can’t have poli­cies to pro­tect them if you don’t have eyes on the prob­lem.” and recalled ADL’s expe­ri­ence when it first began its audit of anti-Semitic inci­dents in the U.S., at a time before­there was any offi­cial mon­i­tor­ing.  “That forced offi­cials to take a hard look at the need to under­stand the nature and mag­ni­tude of the prob­lem.  Today we have broad hate crime report­ing that is a pow­er­ful tool to con­front vio­lent big­otry”, she said.

ADL’sprimary mes­sage was that these gov­ern­ments must part­ner with com­mu­nity orga­ni­za­tions in order to be effec­tive.  “When gov­ern­ments work with civil soci­ety, they craft bet­ter pol­icy, they mobi­lize broader sup­port, and they imple­ment it more suc­cess­fully” and sug­gested some prac­ti­cal steps that could make a dif­fer­ence in how com­mu­ni­ties feel about the gov­ern­ment response.  Ms. Bur­dett noted in her remarks, “It may not be enough to erad­i­cate anti-Semitism and hate crime.  But there’s no ques­tion that, if we part­ner, we can trans­form a place that turns its face away from hate crime to a place where, in the face of hate crime, peo­ple have a place to turn.”

The OSCE is the lead­ing inter­gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion track­ing hate crime and its response and pro­vid­ing tools to help gov­ern­ments and civil soci­ety address it.  ADL has worked closely with the orga­ni­za­tion to develop resources for gov­ern­ments on effec­tive ways to con­front vio­lent big­otry, includ­ing resources on anti-Semitism, and key com­po­nents of their tool-kit to help states address hate crime: Pre­vent­ing and Respond­ing to Hate Crime: A resource guide for NGOs in the OSCE Region, and ODIHR’s Hate Crime Laws: A Prac­ti­cal Guide, which pro­vides prac­ti­cal advice for law­mak­ers, com­mu­nity orga­ni­za­tions and law enforce­ment for respond­ing to bias crimes.

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September 16, 2014 0

From The Archives: Violence Against Women Act 20 Years Later

Twenty years ago, on Sep­tem­ber 13, 1994, Pres­i­dent Clin­ton signed the Vio­lence Against Women Act (VAWA), a law which reflects a core part of ADL’s mis­sion: the pre­ven­tion of bias-motivated crim­i­nal behav­ior. VAWA autho­rized gov­ern­ment action to improve crim­i­nal jus­tice and com­mu­nity responses to domes­tic and sex­ual vio­lence and pro­vided fund­ing for the estab­lish­ment of the National Domes­tic Vio­lence Hot­line. ADL’s sup­port for the law, which aimed to pro­tect women from vio­lence directed against them because of their gen­der, was a nat­ural exten­sion of its work on hate crimes. pres-clinton-bill-signing-1994-09-13

In 1996, two years after VAWA’s enact­ment, ADL added gen­der to its model hate crimes leg­is­la­tion, cit­ing the fact that gender-based hate crimes could not be eas­ily dis­tin­guished from other forms of hate-motivated vio­lence. In response to legal chal­lenges to VAWA fol­low­ing its enact­ment, ADL joined sev­eral ami­cus (friend of the court) briefs in sup­port of the Act. In 2000, in U.S. v. Mor­ri­son, ADL, along with a num­ber of other civil rights orga­ni­za­tions includ­ing Peo­ple for the Amer­i­can Way, the Amer­i­can Jew­ish Con­gress, and Hadas­sah, filed an ami­cus brief sup­port­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of VAWA’s civil rem­edy pro­vi­sion, which allowed sur­vivors of gender-motivated vio­lence to sue their attack­ers in fed­eral court.

Fol­low­ing the Court’s deci­sion to strike down the civil rem­edy pro­vi­sion, ADL con­tin­ued its sup­port for leg­is­la­tion that coun­ters dis­crim­i­na­tion and bias crimes—including on the basis of gen­der or gen­der iden­tity. In 2009, Con­gress enacted the Matthew Shep­ard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Pre­ven­tion Act crim­i­nal­iz­ing hate crimes tar­get­ing vic­tims because of race, color, reli­gion, national ori­gin, gen­der, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, gen­der iden­tity or dis­abil­ity.  ADL spear­headed coali­tion efforts to pass the bill for more than a decade.

After fail­ing to reau­tho­rize an update to VAWA in 2012, Con­gress enacted new leg­is­la­tion in 2013, which included addi­tional pro­grams specif­i­cally designed to address domes­tic vio­lence against women of color, Native Amer­i­cans, new cam­pus hate crime require­ments, and inti­mate part­ner vio­lence involv­ing mem­bers of the LGBT community.

On this impor­tant anniver­sary, ADL reaf­firms its long-standing com­mit­ment to advo­cat­ing for legally-sound statutes at the fed­eral and state level that counter dis­crim­i­na­tion, bias crimes, and vio­lence against women.

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