Time for the Anti-Haters to Rise Up 6 December 2016

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adobestock_33831160-aiHere’s is the horrific reality of hate crimes in the United States. The FBI reported that hate crimes against Muslims rose in 2015 to their highest levels since the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks. In 2015, there were 257 incidents of anti-Muslim bias compared to 154 incidents in 2014, an increase of 67%. The total is second only to the surge in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the months after the Twin Tower attacks when 481 incidents against Muslims were reported in four months.

Sadly, in actual numbers, the 257 incidents of anti-Muslim bias were less than 5% of all the 5,850 reported hate crimes, and 22 percent of the 1402 anti-religious hate crimes; so there are lots of different hate crime scapegoats out there. Indeed: 59.2 percent of all victims were targeted because of their race or ethnicity; 19.7 percent were victimized because of their religion; and 17.7 percent were targeted because of their sexual orientation.

There are lots of hate filled individuals in America; and they have lots of different groups that they hate. Of the 1,402 victims of anti-religious hate crimes: 52.1 percent were against members of the Jewish faith, 21.9 percent against Muslims, 4.3 percent against Catholics, 3.6 percent against Eastern Orthodox, and 3.4 percent against Protestants.

Collectively more than 11 percent of victims of anti-religious hate crimes are Christians. But since Christians are over 90 percent of the American population anti-religious hate crimes against Christians are proportionally rare. Likewise, the American Jewish population is about triple the size of the American Muslim population, so the Muslim proportion of victims is somewhat higher than the Jewish proportion. The same is true for the higher proportion of Catholic compared to Protestant victims.

Overall, the number of reported hate crimes increased from 5,479 in 2014 to 5,850 last year, and the number of victims to 7173 (both persons and property). That means religious-based hate crimes increased by 23%. It is likely, sadly, that hate crime incidents for 2016 will rise by at least 2-3,000. There are also those crimes that go unreported, undocumented, where victims are too afraid or too disheartened to turn the police or law enforcement to record the crime.

So is it a hopeless scenario? Are we destined to become more divided, more hateful, and a society pitted against each other?

Maybe not. The Anti-Defamation League, which combats anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination, saw a 50-fold increase in online donations on the day after the election of Donald Trump.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil liberties and outreach group, gained more than 500 volunteers in the two days after the election.

NARAL Pro-Choice America, which fights for abortion access, reported on Wednesday that it had signed up 290 times as many volunteers since the election as in an average week.

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which supports women’s reproductive rights, received donations from nearly 200,000 people in the week after the election, about 40 times more than in a typical week, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

And The American Civil Liberties Union, which defends the civil rights of individual, said on Monday that it had received more than $7 million from about 120,000 donations over the five days after the election. During the same period after the 2012 election, the group collected less than $28,000 from 354 donations.

Times of crisis are also times of opportunity. The crisis of a President Trump spurred the Islamic Society of North America and the American Jewish Committee to join hands to establish the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council. Similar actions are occurring across North America.

Thank God the anti-haters are now getting aroused.

This article is from Issue 14 of On Religion. Intelligent thinking about religion and society is needed now more than ever, help us and subscribe for £19 a year. Subscribe Button

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About Rabbi Allen Maller

Rabbi Maller has published more than 150 articles in more than two dozen journals, magazines and websites as varied as Jewish Social Studies, US Catholic, Islamicity, Khutbabank and The Journal of Dharma. He is the author of two books of children’s stories, a book on Kabbalah, and the editor of the Tikun series of High Holiday Prayer Books. Rabbi Maller also taught in the theology department of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.