By Shira Tydings
Cold Spring Harbor High School
"Hate groups do not exist anymore. We don't need to worry!" Many people might like to believe these statements are true. But too often we are reminded that even in the United States, hate groups are becoming powerful and making their presence known. Webster's New World dictionary defines hatred as "a strong dislike or ill will." This strong emotion we define as "hatred" is encompassing the world. If all people could respect each other and learn to be tolerant, hatred would be expelled from our world. But unfortunately, this is not the case yet.
Today, too many people are grouping together to spread their ideas of hatred. It is frightening to see the increasing number of minority groups in the United States being targeted by other Americans. Jews and African Americans, Asians, homosexuals, and Hispanics, are all daily attacked, in some way, by hate groups, says a recent article in The New York Times. People affiliated with different hate groups target too many minorities.
Many hate groups exist in the United States. Some of the most well known groups include the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nation, the Christian Identity, and independent groups of Neo-Nazis. Though these groups have different ideas and leaders, they represent a similar underlying theme -- the white, Anglo-Saxon population is superior to anybody else.
Intense prejudices are sometimes the cause of hatred. Strong feelings of hatred often stimulate violent ideas and actions. Many accounts of hate-related violence have been reported by Klanwatch, a magazine sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center. On April 30, 1995, a Jewish synagogue in Queens, New York was set ablaze. In Keansburg, New Jersey, "KKK" was spray painted on an African American family's home on March 22, 1995. On January 11, 1995, two men were beaten because they were allegedly gay. These acts of hatred demonstrate that more education against religious and racial hatred is necessary today.
Lately, some white supremacists have formulated theories that justify their passion-filled hatred. Some Christian Identity members believe that Jews originated from Satan and that the true chosen people are the Anglo-Saxons. These assumptions appeal to other hate groups like the Neo-Nazi skinheads and Ku Klux Klan followers. Ku Klux Klan leaders would like to outlaw homosexuality and interracial marriages. They also believe AIDS is the punishment for such "horrible" actions. The National Alliance, another growing hate group of white supremacists believes "multiculturalism" is destroying America. Ideas of racial cleansing and segregated land appeal to this group.
Members of the Third Position, an Aryan Socialist group, believe political parties are evil and that the federal government is against all Caucasian people. They also hand out literature speaking against Asians, African Americans, and Hispanic immigrants. Bands of armed right-wing militants believe the government is corrupting society as well.
Some of the goals of these militia groups include resisting the federal government and its law enforcing agencies. Many militias believe the Brady Law, a law requiring a five day waiting period between a gun sale so that the buyer can be investigated for any criminal record, is the government's idea of trying to disarm the American public. Because of intense prejudices, these groups feel violence is the only ultimate option.
The melting pot theory of American culture appeals to members of groups like the National Alliance and Third Position. The "melting pot" theory says that all cultures entering the United States will join together and become one, homogeneous mixture. As they become more ethnocentric, these groups' tolerance for others drops drastically. They feel that if all people in the United States adopted one culture, of course their own, the world would be a better place. But naturally, this is neither a realistic nor safe goal. In the United States, each ethnic group keeps part of its culture and adopts other parts of other groups' cultures.
Human rights groups all over the United States are trying to educate the American public about these prejudiced groups. Publications like Klanwatch Intelligence Report and organizations like the Anti-Defamation League try to reach citizens all over the country. But, almost every state is populated with at least one hate group. Here in New York State, Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi, and other independent hate groups exist. We must work as an entire population to educate young children and withstand the growing threat of hate groups.
If children learn about tolerance, they will not be afraid of others. And, in turn, when they know the facts about other cultures, they will not feel prejudiced against them. Only when we have achieved this goal can we hope to improve our world.
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Access the HGP's An End to Intolerance Web page.
Access the Holocaust/Genocide Project's Home Page.