Stop Hate 2000 Newsletter September, 2011

Will’s father commented about how difficult school is for queer students. “Most parents worry about if they make a grade, make a team, or do things like that. When we sent Willi to school, we worried that it would be the last time we would see him.” Stated in interview in the documentary movie Anti-Gay Hate Crime: A & E Investigative Reports. Available from Amazon.Com and Amazon.Ca.
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September, 2011 marks the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon and the attempted attack on the White House. Four airplanes were hijacked and two of the hijacked airliners were crashed into the World Trade Center. The enormity of the attack stands in the collective memory of those who were alive when the attack took place. Almost everybody who was old enough to remember the 9/11 terrorist attack can tell you what he or she was doing that day.

Life changed on 9/11. The United States entered a state of war with Afghanistan and with Iraq, partly due to the terrorist attacks. Security alerts at airports and public buildings became routine. Those who traveled by airplane and those who crossed the border to enter the United States before and after 9/11 noticed the difference. Security and customs checks were much more rigorous after 9/11. Normally polite airport, security and customs officials had an edge in their voices and seemed much more business-like. In the days and weeks after 91/11, some Islamic Americans felt safer in the closet, hiding their Muslim spiritual identity.

The collective memory of hatred, of abuse, of atrocities, of racism, or of bullying can last a life-time for individuals and can last for hundreds of years for countries. Historic tensions, dating back for centuries, divide countries in the Balkans and the Middle East, and divide Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity. Collective and individual forgiveness is necessary to prevent a cycle of tit-for-tat violence and discrimination. Forgiveness in the face of tremendous hurt and loss is not easy, especially in cases where there was no justice. We commonly think of forgiveness as not seeking justice and as forgetting what took place. Forgiveness is neither of those things. When we forgive, we are choosing not to carry the burden of anger, bitterness and pain with us to our graves. In a very real sense, forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves, not the person who hurt us.

As Americans reflect on 9/11, on the loss of life, on the ways 9/11 changed the United States and on the ways 9/11 changed their daily lives, the need to forgive may arise again. The collective and individual forgiveness will be a releasing of bitterness, hatred and a continued desire to seek retribution against all Islamic peoples, while remaining ever vigilant against the threat of terrorism.

On the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, thousands of Islamic Americans, who love the United States and who oppose spiritual extremism and terrorism, will live with heightened levels of fear, because they know people who may harbor ill-will toward the Islamic community will be watching them. This month will see increased concerns in the Jewish community, because some people blame the Jewish community for an attack that was carried out by a few Islamic extremist terrorists.

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Bullying is directly related to other expressions of hatred. Stop Hate 2000 has pages dedicated to bullying, because bullying is often related to racism, religious hatred or homophobia. Researchers give us the impression that as much as 80% of bullying is homophobic. The seriousness of bullying captures attention again this fall, because of the suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer.

The Montreal Gazette carries the story of Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year old New Yorker, who committed suicide. According to news reports, Jamey died after being the target of homophobic bullying. In his “It Gets Better” You Tube video, Jamey mentions some bullying he faced had a religious tone, with people telling him that “gay people go to hell.” In the “It Gets Better” video, Jamey encourages people to believe Lady Gaga’s song “Born This Way” and to “hold your head up and you’ll go far.” Unfortunately, for Jamey, things did not get better. The bullying continued and Jamey took his own life.

Jamey Rodemeyer’s life touched many people. An ABC article states Lady Gaga paid tribue to Jamey Rodemeyer’s life, by dedicating a song to Jamey. An ABC video indicates the police are investigating Jamey’s suicide to determine if criminal charges can be laid against some of the youth who bullied Jamey.

Bullies tend to target people they feel are weak and vulnerable. Some cyber bullies are continuing their attack on the weak and vulnerable, by attacking a person who is not able to fight back in any way, a dead person, Jamey Rodemeyer. Cyber bullies, who know Jamey is dead, have been leaving some homophobic comments on Jamey’s You Tube video channel. When the site was reviewed by a volunteer with Stop Hate 2000, some of the homophobic posts remaining on the site, were religious in nature. One of the posts states that gays are the “spawn of the devil” and that Jesus died to “protect” people from homosexuals. Another post states, “Natural selection only idiots commit suicide.” Fortunately, more caring and sensitive people have been marking the comments as spam, in an effort to hide the offensive posts. Some bullies took their bullying to an unfathomably brutal level. An article on the LezGetReal website states that when Jamey’s sister was at a school function, a dance, some bullies started chant to the effect that they were glad Jamey was dead.

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Prejudice, discrimination, bullying and crimes that target the disabled is a serious problem. The disabled are often among the least able to defend themselves when they face bullying, discrimination and crime. An able bodied person faces the risk of injury every day, but for people who have compromised mobility and strength face much more significant risks. Some disabled people live in fear that somebody running up behind them could inadvertently bump into them, cause them to fall, and the fall could result a painful injury. The nagging fear of being around people who might accidentally injure them is increased by the risk of planned physical assault.

A British Broadcasting Corporation article states 100,000 disabled people on Wales were targeted with hate crime in 2009/2010. Unfortunately, the figure could increase for 2010/2011. An article about hate crimes against disabled Welch can be read on the BBC website.

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The loss of life from the Norway shootings and bombings is staggering. A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation article states 80 people were killed by the shooter and and a bomb attack killed 7. To get a sense of impact of the murders on a relatively small country like Norway, one may need to compare the death loss in Norway to the death toll from other tragic events. An U.K. Telegraph points out that when we take the population of Norway into consideration, the shootings in Norway resulted in a loss that was proportionally larger than the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the towers in New York City. Another Canadian Broadcasting Corporation article, "Norway Shooting Victim Played Dead Among Bodies," relates a story about how a man survived the murderous shooting spry by pretending he was dead, even after he was shot in the shoulder at close range. The level of hatred required to motivate a person to engage in the mass murder of 80 people is difficult for many people to comprehend.

Only those responsible for the mass murders will know the real reasons for the murderous rampage. Currently, one suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, is in custody for the mass murders. Many people are reading documents written by Breivik and are attempting to understand what might have motivated the murders.

Glenn Beck, a conservative American commentator, made comments that compared the victims of the Norway shootings with the Hitler Youth. An article on the U.K. Telegraph website states that Beck made comments about the Labour Party youth camp, where they shootings took place as having "'disturbing' similarities" to the Nazi youth. Labour Parties philosophically have much less in common with the Nazis than some elements in conservative political parties. While Glenn Beck might not have meant to inflict pain and suffering on the families who lost loved ones, his comments are likely to have caused enormous pain to many Norwegian families and might prove to be a political setback for American conservatives. Unfortunately, the reputation of the United States was damaged in Norway by Glenn Beck's inconsiderate and insensitive comments.

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Several stories of interest come from Sweden. According to a Local article, a Swedish hate crimes educator overhead a conversation in which a Swedish policeman referred to gay people as a cancer. The Local, an English-language Swedish news website, reports that some of the major Swedish newspapers are taking steps to reduce problems of Internet responses that are racist, sexist, or that contain personal attacks. A recent The Local news article reports that Swedish levels of hatred against Jewish and Islamic people are increasing. According to the article, the number of racist websites in Sweden increased from 8,000 in 2009 to 15,000. Negative conspiratorial views of Jewish people and perceptions that Islamic people are starting to take over seem to be increasing in Sweden.

Anybody with news about hate crimes or discrimination is welcome to email us.

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