DO YOUR HOMEWORK
An informed campaign improves its effectiveness. Determine if a hate group is involved, and research its symbols and agenda. Understand the difference between a hate crime and a bias incident.
Eruptions of hate generally produce one of two reactions: apathy ("It's just an isolated act of by some kooks") or fear ("The world is out of control"). Before reacting, communities need accurate information about those who are spouting hate.
The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks more than 750 organized U.S. hate groups, virtually all white supremacists but including black separatist groups as well. Some are tiny — a handful of men — but armed with a computer, e-mail and a website, their reach can be immense, their message capable of entering a child's private bedroom.
In their literature and websites, hate groups rail at growing immigrant populations that will make whites a minority in this century. Like some of their brothers-in-arms in militia groups, they also spread fears of losing control of America to a "One World Government" dominated by Jewish bankers, multinational corporations and the United Nations. More often than not, members of hate groups blame scapegoats for their personal failures, low self-esteem, anger and frustration. They frequently act under the influence of alcohol or drugs, recruiting disaffected teens through music and other means.
Though their views may be couched in code words, members of hate groups typically share these extremist views:
They want to limit the rights of certain groups.
They want to divide society along racial, ethnic or religious lines.
They believe in conspiracies.
They try to silence any opposition.
They are antigovernment and fundamentalist.
And yet, most hate crimes are not committed by members of hate groups. The SPLC estimates that fewer than 5 percent of hate crimes can be linked to members of hate groups. The majority appear to be the work of "freelance" perpetrators, typically young males who are looking for thrills, defending turf or trying to blame someone else for their troubles. Rarely are they acting from deeply held ideology; instead, they attack targeted groups randomly, choosing whoever is convenient. While these young men act independently, it is hate groups — mixing stereotypes with a culture of violence — that often provide the dehumanizing rhetoric that may foster such attacks.
If you can't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else. Can I get an Amen?