Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hate On the Rise

From the Orange County Register:

The attack took place about a year ago, on Memorial Day 2008. Honeycutt, who is half Salvadoran, was beaten by two white supremacists who shouted racial epithets at him before attacking him.

Honeycutt was one of 79 hate crime victims who stepped forward last year to report various types of attacks, according to a report released this week by the Orange County Human Relations Commission.

In a county of more than 3 million, and in the highly charged political climate in which we live, the question should be: Where are the others?

The numbers are tiny – too tiny to lead to statistically relevant conclusions – and conflicting. They show a rise in hate crimes against African Americans, Latinos and Jews, and a downturn in hate crimes against gays and lesbians.

But that's based on the reported hate crimes. Emphasis on reported because every expert on a panel convened by the Human Relations Commission agreed that there are more victims out there who aren't stepping forward.

David Bishop, director of the UCI Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, described 2008 as one of the most brutal years in recent history for the gay community, primarily because of the controversial political campaign surrounding gay marriage.

But the full story of how the tension over this issue played out is hard to gauge because, Bishop contends, hate crimes are "hugely underreported." In his experience, gays and lesbians learn early in life that few people will step up to stop anti-gay harassment. As a result, they don't report crimes against them later in life.

"The Japanese have a saying: The nail that sticks up is the nail that gets smashed. I think that's completely true for this community," Bishop says.

As a country, I think we actually are not doing that poorly when it comes to western world racism. I think we have better integrated multiracial communities than anywhere in Europe, to start with. Though I doubt we beat the Canadians (LOL Canada).

There's a lot of work left to be done here. With a Black (really, biracial) President and gay rights on the rise, I think we're going to see a lot of insecurity amongst people who are seeing their country change. And a lot of that insecurity will turn into paranoia, and paranoia will turn into violence (especially in this economy).