Due to recent killings in Arkansas, Kansas, and Washington, D.C., Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday, June 16 that the country requires new hate crimes law in order to stop “violence masquerading as political activism.”
Holder cites that the recent surge in white supremacist activity is due to the economic downturn and the election of President Obama, the nation’s first Black president. Holder says that over a two-week period, a young soldier in Little Rock was killed, as well as an abortion provider in Wichita, and a guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
In order to stop such violence, Holder says, Congress should pass an updated version of hate crimes legislation in order to more effectively prosecute those who commit violent attacks based on gender, disability, or sexual orientation — something that many Republicans and former President George W. Bush have opposed in the past, stating it was unnecessary.
Perhaps it had been unnecessary at that time. But the fact is that today, hate crimes have spiked in the recent years, rising by more than 50 percent since 2000, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Hate groups even use social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook to gather together and spread their messages, which is, frankly, quite scary when we think of how efficient those sites are at communicating to a wide range of people from all over the world.
Given the current climate, we support Holder in his goal of creating a new hate crimes law.
We are lucky to live in the Puget Sound, an area with diverse perspectives and a multicultural make-up. In comparison to other urban areas in the United States, our crime rates are pretty low.
Sometimes we forget that safety is a luxury, and that not everyone has this luxury. This is why we should support Holder in creating a better way to protect people of color. We need to be especially vocal in showing our support so that our government realizes the importance of this issue to us.
In researching for this editorial, there were plenty of statistics for Blacks, Latinos, and Muslims because they are reporting hate crimes. Noticeably absent was the statistics for Asians, perhaps because the amount was too negligible to mention. As a visible minority, we doubt the lack of reporting is due to the fact that Asians aren’t the victims of any crimes.
We are vastly underreporting these crimes. Not reporting these crimes is harmful and wrong, both for the victims and for Asian Americans as a whole. We have had a long history of being silent, which has been harmful to our communities because so many injustices have been swept under the rug. This is why we need to learn to speak up and support Holder. ♦
For links to related commentaries on this issue, visit our Web site at www.nwasianweekly.com.