In February 2020 a man accused of killing 22 people and wounding about two dozen people, targeted at Mexicans was charged with federal hate crimes in the city of El Paso, Texas. In October 2019, Guardian reported a doubled rate of hate crimes in England and Wales. Who can forget the famous ‘Snowtown Murders’ of Australia during the late 1990s motivated by the urge of hatred and discontent towards Paedophiles, Homosexuals? Recently, a video posted on social media showed a group of transgender women being forcibly removed from a Los Angeles Bar, as reported by the Guardian.
Well, the increasing rate of hate crimes is no less in our own country. ‘Halt the Hate’, an interactive website of Amnesty International India found that the reports of alleged hate crimes have witnessed the steepest rise in numbers since 2016. To quote the website’s report, ‘In the first six months of 2019 alone, 181 incidents of alleged hate crimes have been recorded, nearly double than the previous three years’ half-yearly counts.’
What are we expecting from the world as a human being? Hate crimes are nothing but the acts of violence targeted towards other human beings or a community because of who they are or who one thinks they are. Yes! ‘Perception’ indeed plays a significant role in defining your behavior and actions towards your fellow mates. Those who fall, victims of hate crimes, are nothing different from their perpetrators, than in matters of their caste, race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, ability, or concisely their identity of being a human being.
It is depressing to note that we, as individuals of the superior race on this earth fail every time to respect our brethren. Amnesty International India reported that out of 72 cases of mob attacks reported in India in the last year, more than half were targeted towards Muslims. In all the incidents, the victims were forced to either say ‘Vande Mataram’ or ‘Jai Sri Ram’ or Jai Hanuman’ or ‘Pakistan Murdabad’ and/or were demanded to remove their skullcaps. Our sense of identifying ourselves (and the group we belong to) is daunted because it always regards itself as superior over the other. The New York Times reports that between May 2015 and December 2018, at least 44 people were killed by cow protection groups, as per a report from Human Rights Watch.
Are we taking pride in calling ourselves human beings when we engage in acts of violence or hate speeches or abusive gestures to undermine others and their authority? Gone are the days when public morality was something we adhered to while living in a society that is copious of varied identities. Research by Aziz Foundation on ‘Hate Crime: Cause and Effect’ reveals that hate crimes spread fear and anger throughout communities and affect deeply the whole community with which the victim identifies. Biasness against those who are perceived to be inferior does not make us superior, rather the hatred sprouts from a biased ideology and grows into a collective violent behavior.
Homophobia, racism, communal prejudices, and hatred towards identities that we differ from are increasing around the world at a rapid rate. However, it is also important to note here that one cannot always conclude a violent criminal act as ‘hate crime’ on the fulfillment of requirements posed by the dogmatic definition of ‘hate crimes’. An act to be labeled as a criminal act of hate also depends upon the capacity of those who claim victim status to beget thinking or perception that encourages others to identify them as undeserving victims of prejudice and thus as ‘Ideal victims’ of hate crimes.
We are absolutely excelling in science, research, and technological sectors but, are confident enough to claim that what we are teaching our generation about morality and humanity is exactly what we are expecting them to follow? While the government is responsible for taking immediate and effective actions, we as not only citizens of the nation but also as a rational thinking living being are primarily accountable to what we perceive of others and how we go about such perception. Should we not question our conscience when we identify others as less entitled to all the respect and rectitude that we think, we are most entitled to? Let us not witness our humanity drifting away swiftly from the society we have built to live in.
Let us respect the differences, and be human!