Tag: hate crime

Bursting

Because we’re all fond of metaphors, let’s conjure up an image of America as if it were a person.

In this scenario, we see that — like everyone — America has her virtues and her flaws, her good days and her bad days. Lately, America has nursed the nagging suspicion that she’s past her prime, but she’s not giving up just yet.

All she has to do is lose ten pounds, give up smoking, and… what was that last thing? Oh yeah, end widespread and systematic racism that disenfranchises millions of ethnic minorities.

But what happens when America — or any person — tries to change a bad habit?

Well, contrary to popular belief, negative behaviors usually don’t fade away. They put up a fight, and then they either die out forever or (more likely) come roaring back with a vengeance.

For example, let’s say you’re trying to give up devouring that daily tub of ice cream. You might go weeks without so much as a spoonful of Chunky Monkey. But then you allow yourself a taste of Cherry Garcia. Bam — your “diet ends in a catastrophic binge, and you look at the empty containers and ask, ‘What the hell. How did my smooth transition from comfort food to human dumpster happen?’”

That’s an extinction burst, which is “a predictable and common blast of defiance from the recesses of a brain denied familiar rewards.”

Basically, an extinction burst is your brain’s last-ditch effort to return you to your old ways. It happens, weirdly enough, when you are closest to your goal.

Your mind is saying, “Shit, this behavior might actually take root. Time to panic.” And you pig out, or smoke three packs one after another, or binge watch nine hours of porn, or indulge in whatever behavior you are trying to banish.

And you were so close… and doing so well… sigh.

Well, you can see how this relates to our metaphor of America, the person.

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Snowflakes

For the moment, let’s avoid dwelling on all the hate crimes that have erupted across the nation since our small-fingered president-elect nabbed his 270th electoral vote.

But let’s just acknowledge that there have been a lot of racist attacks, many of which have been spectacular in their brutality and lunacy.

However, as horrific as these public displays of xenophobia are, I’m more interested in our reaction to these fascistic assaults.

You see, many people are writing off those losers painting swastikas or some thug grabbing a woman’s hijab as stray nutjobs, a tiny percentage of freaks that’s inevitable in a nation of 300 million people. Yes, it stretches the boundaries of plausibility to say the surge in hatred has absolutely nothing to do with Trump, but let’s go with that scenario for now.

What is far more problematic, far more onerous, is the response of social conservatives whenever an ethnic minority has the chutzpah to point out such acts of bigotry.

We get that laziest of insults, which is that we are pampered snowflakes.

snowflakes

The message is that shit happens and we need to toughen up and we have to stop whining and so on and so on.

Of course, the real reason for this dismissal is that acknowledging racism is psychologically distressing for many people — particularly white conservatives who really want to sidestep the obvious truth that a significant chunk of their peers are bigots, and in some cases, actual damn Nazis.

So snapping that a liberal is just a snowflake is a way to jettison the discomfort. It denies that the problem is widespread or even that odious. It says that, basically, it’s just a few jerks, so get over your hypersensitive self.

One recent example of the snowflake phenomena caught my eye. Perhaps you heard about the school in Michigan where white students formed a human wall to block minority students from getting to their destinations. A 12-year-old Latina “was stopped from going to her locker by a group of boys who told her to go back to her country and that they were going to ‘make America great again.’”

I read a few accounts of the story, and (against my better judgment) many reader comments. It was easy to spot the opinion pattern that “boys were just being boys” and outraged adults were simply a bunch of —you guessed it — snowflakes.

But I’m just wondering, at what point did a 12-year-old facing a gauntlet of racists become so much political correctness? When did we collectively decide to dismiss these incidents and treat them as a normal part of growing up? When did we latch onto the term “snowflake” as mindless shorthand and mocking derision?

To be honest, right now in America, the only snowflakes I see are middle-aged guys who are pissed off that life didn’t work out perfectly for them. I see horribly insecure men lashing out at children who are having threats literally shouted into their faces. I see hypocritical conservatives who most likely have never endured a moment of mob hatred, never been the object of abuse, who now sit smugly back and tell kids that they’re just being wimps.

This is beyond blaming the victim. It is even beyond simple prejudice and petty hatred.

It is a sociopathic disdain for humanity.

I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings. I guess you’ll just have to fucking get over it.

 


The Paranoia Cha Cha

Recently, I wrote about the fear and loathing that many Americans have for immigrants in general and for Latino immigrants in particular.

fearfear

Hispanic immigrants are, to hear some people talk, hell-bent on bringing death and destruction across the border. Well, as we all know (or should know), immigration — both legal and undocumented — is way down over the past few years. So that surge at the border is greatly exaggerated.

Furthermore, numerous studies have found that “immigrants—regardless of nationality or legal status—are less likely than the native population to commit violent crimes or to be incarcerated.”

The nativist ignores that part about “regardless of nationality or legal status,” and says, “Well, sure. Those good immigrants from Europe and maybe India aren’t committing crimes. It’s the illegals!”

Sorry, but the data shows that while the undocumented population more than tripled between 1990 and 2013, the violent crime rate declined 48 percent. And violent crime continues to go down across America.

In addition, a separate paper explains that it’s not “well-behaved, high-skilled immigrants from India and China offsetting misdeeds of Latin American newcomers.” The study shows that “for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants.” And in a stat sure to annoy conservative alarmists, this “holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the undocumented population.”

Digging deeper into the data, we find that immigrant adolescents — often portrayed in the media as a swarm of Latin King gangbangers — are in fact, “statistically less likely to engage in delinquent behaviors, such as fighting, selling drugs, binge drinking, carrying guns, or using marijuana and other illegal drugs” than their peers.

So if immigrants — even the undocumented Hispanic ones — aren’t committing all these crimes, who is? Or to paraphrase a not-so-wise man, “Who is doing all the raping?”

The answer seems to be, “Americans.” The immigrant boogeyman is no match for born-and-bred craziness.

Now, if we eliminate the immigrant subcategory and look at crime rates among Hispanics, we get a more nuanced picture.

A study shows that Latinos made up about 16.6 percent of all arrests, comparable to our percentage of the US population. We are sadly overrepresented in some categories (e.g., motor vehicle theft) and underrepresented in others (e.g., there are few Latino embezzlers). One stat I found interesting is that Hispanics have a very low rate of offenses against family members and children (6.2 percent of all arrests). Clearly, the legendary emphasis that Latinos place on family isn’t just talk.

In any case, one of the more disturbing aspects of the study is the following: For all the fears that white people have about being victims of crime (often at the hands of some swarthy minority), it is Hispanics who should be concerned.

For example, the homicide rate for Latinos is double the rate for white people.

And Latinos experience a higher rate of hate crime than whites or blacks. The data shows that the rate of hate crime incidents against Latinos is slightly higher than the rate for blacks. And the Hispanic rate is more than triple that of whites.

So perhaps it is we Latinos who should be saying, “Crime is out of control” and locking ourselves up in gated communities.

Hey, don’t rule it out.

 

 


Oy Vey

I’ve written before about the bond between Latinos and Jews. There’s even an official alliance to foster this connection.

And now we have statistical evidence that this bond is growing stronger. According to a study by the Anti-Defamation League  (ADL), anti-Semitism is on the decline among Latinos. About 14 percent of American-born Hispanics hold anti-Semitic views, which “represents a welcome decline” from 2011, when 20 percent of Latinos had issues with people named Goldstein and Silverman.

Of course, 14 percent is still way too high, but at least it’s moving in the right direction.

Now, if you had any doubts that Latinos and Jews are strongly linked, consider this related news story out of my home state of Wisconsin. Apparently, a few weeks ago, a severely inebriated man in Janesville exited a bar late one night and “overheard two men on the street speaking Hebrew. He confronted them, demanding they speak English.”

The drunk guy then hit both men “because he believed they were speaking Spanish.” This member of the English-only league has since been charged with two counts of battery with a hate crime enhancer.

No, it’s not an uplifting story. In fact, it sounds like an Onion headline. But clearly, to some Americans, it doesn’t matter if you’re Jewish or Latino — you’re marked for a beat down.

It’s a good thing, then, that Hispanics and Jews have each other’s backs.

mymexicanshivah


Grounds for a Fistfight

One of my favorite words is “internecine.” Of course, I don’t admire the concept (i.e., hostility or conflict within a group). I just like the sound of its syllables clanging together.

In any case, “internecine” describes the situation whenever ethnic minorities beat up on each other. It’s most famous application is “black-on-black violence.”

I have yet to hear about brown-on-brown violence, but perhaps it is only a matter of time. For example, a few months ago in Staten Island, a Mexican immigrant became one of the borough’s recent victims of a hate crime.

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I Hate You, You Hate Me…

With all the recent love that has been extended to immigrants (really, it’s been nonstop kisses and flowers), one could be forgiven for believing that hate groups in America are on the decline.

However, a recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center says that the number of hate groups increased just a little — 244 percent — over the previous year. Now, this intimidating statistic provokes a natural question: What is the definition of a hate group?

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More Popular Than Ever

Latinos are still coming down off our post-election high. After all, the mainstream media anointed us a crucial voting block in President-elect Obama’s victory.

Well, the good news keeps flooding in. As evidence of our newfound clout, we can now say that we’re number one in a very important sociological category:

Hispanics are officially the top victims of hate crimes that are “motivated by ethnicity or national origin,” as the FBI puts it.

Thank you. We couldn’t have done it without you… well, not you, per se. But we couldn’t have done it without that small percentage of racial supremacists out there (which is most certainly not you, otherwise you would not be reading this).

Just how overwhelming is the Latino presence on the hate-crime index? According to the FBI, Hispanics made up almost two-thirds (61.6 percent) of victims in this category – so in your face, Asian Americans!

Now the first disclaimer to this enlightening statistic is that blacks are still number one in the racial category – remember, race and ethnicity are often two different things. Also, the statistics only cover through 2007, so it’s possible that some other ethnic group has surpassed us as objections of scorn in the last year.

But I doubt it.

Recently, we heard about a group of teenage boys in upstate New York who, according to police, wanted “to find Latinos and to assault them. They were actively seeking victims.” The guys succeeded, killing an Ecuadorian immigrant who made the mistake of walking down their side of the street. At a court hearing for the lynch mob, a prosecutor quoted the leader of the thugs as saying, “Let’s go find some Mexicans to fuck up.”

This apparently is a worthwhile goal in some parts of America.

One might ask why there is so much hatred of Hispanics. I don’t know… maybe it has something to do with the psychotic level of rage focused on Latino immigrants, most of which has a basis in xenophobic fears that have been jacked up by demagogues looking to score cheap political points.

Actually, I’m sure that’s all just a coincidence.

Regardless, I’m surprised that we’re still the favorites. In this post-9/11 world, I thought Middle Easterners were the primary objects of fear and loathing. But it wasn’t a very long ride at the top for the Abduls and Muhammads of America.

Irrational fears that every Muslim is a terrorist have been supplanted in these tough economic times. Now we’re back to the irrational fear that a Latino is going to steal your job.

It proves that in dark days, some Americans find comfort in returning to the classics.

 


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