Hate Crimes are on the Rise in Canada

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Racial Equality

I never understood the rationale behind anger and hatred.  I still don’t.

As a child, I remember seeing faces that became jagged and fierce – and eyes consumed with contempt.  Like a malignant disease, hatred and anger would appear at rapacious intervals, and I was more than aware of its maniacal, deliberate gaze and the potential of its flailing, clenched fists.

The principal of my school, the neighbours, the choir conductor and bullies in the community all had one thing in common - outbursts of vocal and physical rage demanding control and to blame someone for their lot in life.

Discrimination, bigotry and intolerance

When I was ten-years-old, I purchased World War I and II encyclopaedias through Life Magazine, a series of 30 books that were delivered monthly - to the consternation of my mother and the burgeoning, although haunting, interest of my father.  Determined to uncover the tangled roots of hatred, I set myself on a mission of research and discovery.

After reading the first few editions, my head was inundated with historical data but my heart became disillusioned and isolated.  Vivid photographs of the ravages of war with trampled, disfigured bodies morphed into petrified memories.

I couldn’t get past the fact that these young men belonged to mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, wives – a family.  An empty chair at the kitchen table would become a constant reminder.

Nowhere in the encyclopaedias could I find the inception of anger and hatred.  Why would people willingly concede to an emotion that does not relinquish its hunger and thirst for more?  Circular in intention and instigation, hatred is consciously reseeded from generation to generation.  

quote by Elie Wiesel on hatred and anti-Semitic crimes

So many years later, little has changed.  Although instead of reading a historical book, crimes of hatred and violence are now part of the local, daily news.

There were over 2,000 anti-Semitic incidents of assault and hatred in 2018 reports B’nai Brith Canada.

“The Jewish community remains the most frequently targeted group when it comes to hate crime, with an incident taking place roughly every 24 hours in Canada,” says the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

Over the past five years, there have been substantial increases of anti-Semitic crimes in Vancouver and Montreal.  Vancouver now has the highest rate of hate crimes in Canada.

Hate crimes motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability and culture are a growing concern in Canada and around the world.  Of the total number of incidents where victims believed the offence was hate-motivated, 45% were reported to the police while 53% were not reported.

No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion.  People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

The Matthew Shepard Foundation states that victims do not report their incidences due to skepticism of law enforcement investigations, not understanding the definition of hate crimes and fear of retaliation.

Hatred, blame, feeling threatened and conspiracy theories are motivators that provoke a person to escalate from tolerance to criminal, violent intent.

prisoner of war
quote by Charles Caleb Colton on hatred

The Canadian Race Relation Foundation states:

“Because of the broad reverberation of hatred, hate crimes result in a disproportionate level of harm, which affects not only the individual, but also the victim’s community.  Attacks, whether directed against individuals or communal institutions, may have the effect of leaving entire communities feeling vulnerable and isolated.  Individual reactions can mirror post-traumatic stress disorder.

Hate crimes contribute to disunity in society, compromise democratic values, maintains inequality, and breaks down social cohesion.  They send an explicit message that entire groups of citizens are unworthy of respect, lack redeeming characteristics and are worthy of contempt.  In extreme cases, they promote the corrosive concept that “to be different is to be dangerous.”

Violent Incidents in 2018

  • The Jewish community has been targeted most frequently with 347 violent incidents.
  • The black community has the second highest target rating with 283 violent incidents.
  • The LGBTQ2SI community has the third highest target rating with 173 incidents but overall, has suffered the most violent offences.
  • Police reported 173 hate crimes against members of the Muslim community and 35 hate crimes against the Aboriginal community.  
quote by Lester B. Pearson on ignorance breeding fear

The United States Department of Justice reported 7,120 hate crimes with physical assault against people involving 8,496 offences in 2018.  The bias motivation lists race, ethnicity and ancestry at 59.6%, religion at 18.7% and sexual orientation at 16.7% of all hate crimes. 

While state and local police are not required to report hate crimes to the FBI, the bureau has made a significant effort to increase awareness by collecting and reporting data.

In 2019, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism reported that crimes against Asian-Americans, African-Americans and Muslims are down but anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise.

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