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Fighting Hate Crimes in America

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For decades, we have witnessed the pilfering, unjust surveillance, and militarization of our communities by those in positions of leadership and power. Islamophobic and anti-Semitic rhetoric has been fashioned under the guise of national security concerns.

A whirlwind of volatile events and revelations have marked this past year. From an ongoing pandemic to decisive presidential elections, the events of the last few months have continued to force us to reevaluate our dynamics with one another and our roles within the global community. These seminal moments have amplified the unfortunate racial animus that has defiled so much of American history and society, and the ramifications of such animosity continue to reverberate throughout marginalized groups such as the Jewish and Muslim communities.

Although racial disparity is seen through wealth inequality, healthcare irregularities, and much more, more recently, a new FBI hate crime report has documented a troubling uptake in hate crimes against Jews and Muslims since 2018. While hate crimes against Jews rose by 14 percent and slightly decreased against Muslims in 2019, the overarching discovery exposes that Muslims remain the next largest target of crimes based on racial bias.

The data continues to stupefy as we remember that the report underestimates the number of hate crimes, considering that participation of local law enforcement in the FBI’s Hate Crime Data Collection System is not mandatory. Organizations, such as the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council (MJAC), have issued several statements regarding the report and have taken steps to push for legislation to combat the racial malice rampant within the United States. 

MJAC’s co-chair, Stanley Bergman, has issued a profound statement that serves to remind us that while hate crimes are prevalent against minorities such as Muslims and Jews, no faith or ethnic group is immune. The rise of hate crimes is an epidemic in itself that must be confronted. MJAC has called on the US Congress to pass the Jabara-Heyer National Opposition to Hate, Assaults, and Threats to Equality (NO HATE) Act before the end of the current congressional session.

This bill will be a historic victory for all marginalized groups throughout the nation. The act was initially introduced to the senate in 2019 by Senator Richard Blumenthal, and it immediately had the MJAC rapt and has found their support ever since. In short, the No Hate Act is a vital measure that will serve to encourage law enforcement authorities to rectify hate crime reporting through the aid of grants that will be managed by the Department of Justice.

In addition to this, the bill will provide resources such as law enforcement trainings, the creation of reporting hotlines, increased resources to liaise with affected communities, and public education forums on hate crimes. Lastly,  perpetrators will be required to attend educational classes in regards to their victim’s background as a condition of release. 

MJAC and politicians who continue to back this bill are hopeful about the reformations it will inspire. From assisting law enforcement to respond effectively to violent situations to help us better understand the nature of racial antipathy, the bill is a step in the right direction. Thus far, the bill has passed in the house with bi-partisan support. The MJAC now anticipates the act to either be passed with the Coronavirus response package or to be passed independently in the Senate. The approval and enforcement of a bill can be likened to maneuvering a ladder – deliberately and meticulously. 

Working with organizations like MJAC and advocating for legislation are indubitably necessary. Yet it is imperative for constituents and organizers alike to keep in mind that the perpetual othering of our people is not limited to the general populace. For decades, we have witnessed the pilfering, unjust surveillance, and militarization of our communities by those in positions of leadership and power. Islamophobic and anti-Semitic rhetoric has been fashioned under the guise of national security concerns.

As a result,  baseless hate, fear, and deprecation of faith and ethnic groups have formed the backbone of American life. The recent publication of the FBI report, though horrific, does not astound us. It is the merciless reality we observed unfold throughout modern history.

Hate is a bestial entity that, by nature, seeks to silence its victims. But resilience is inherent to humankind. Hate, despite its best efforts, fails to strike in its totality. It only serves to incentivize us as comrades in faith and humanity. Though hate discriminates, justice will unite and fortify hearts. 

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