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Other Opinion: Hate crimes, groups have long life

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Frazier Glenn Cross — the white supremacist accused of killing three people Sunday at Jewish centers near Kansas City — may look like a grizzled relic of another era: 73 years old and once a "grand dragon" of the Ku Klux Klan, a group that many associate with the killings and violence of a long-gone past.

But the hate peddled by Cross (also known as Frazier Glenn Miller) is in no danger of dying out. The white supremacist movement, with its deep streak of anti-Semitism, has found fertile ground amid the dramatic population shifts going on in the USA.

Census Bureau projections that ethnic and racial minorities will outnumber whites in the United States by 2043 are proving to be a lure to new recruits. Add the first African-American presidency and hard economic times, stir in a virulent brew of lies and fear-mongering, and you’ve got a recipe for hatred.

The number of domestic hate groups rose from 602 in 2000 to 939 last year, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks such things.

An annual Justice Department survey of crime victims found that more than 293,000 hate crimes — ranging from vandalism to assaults — were committed in 2012, about the same number as in 2004. That’s 800 a day. Most are never reported to police, which is perhaps one reason the public underestimates the continuing presence of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and others.

The survey provides yet another indication that such movements aren’t likely to fade away anytime soon. Nearly 20 per cent of the hate-crime perpetrators were 17 and younger. Teens are often drawn in by "white power" music, played by bands with names such as Angry Aryans, and promoted on popular white nationalist websites and radio.

If there is any good news in this bleak picture, it’s that hate crimes against Jews in the U.S. are declining — the opposite of Europe, which is experiencing an upsurge in anti-Semitic violence and anti-immigrant sentiment more generally.

Cross, a well-known anti-Semite, is accused of targeting a Jewish community center and a Jewish retirement home in his shooting spree. As he was driven away in a police car, he shouted "Heil Hitler!" As it turns out, none of the victims — an occupational therapist visiting her mother, and a doctor and his 14-year-old grandson — was Jewish.

Some people may think that if they are not members of targeted minorities, they need not worry about hate groups. But the haters are a danger to everyone — and to the ideals on which America was founded.

— USA Today

 

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