On the eve of Pesach, or Passover. last Sunday, an aging stranger walked into the parking lot of a Jewish community center in Kansas City. The man asked the people there if they were Jewish. And then he started shooting.
The man then left and drove to a nearby retirement community, where he shot and killed a 70-year-old woman.
The shooter was eventually arrested but not after he killed three people. There were reports that he shouted “Heil Hitler” as police took him away.
The suspect was later identified as Frazier Glenn Cross, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan and a member of a neo-Nazi forum.
US President Barack Obama described the incident as “horrific,” but Cross’ fellow neo-Nazis heaped praises on him. “3 ain’t bad. Hail Hitler brother!!” one online comment read.
The Kansas City shooting is the latest outburst of hate crime in the United States. It will definitely not be the last.
The US Department of Justice defines hate or bias crime as “the violence of intolerance and bigotry, intended to hurt and intimidate someone because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation says nearly two thirds of anti-religious hate crimes in the US are aimed at Jews or Jewish sites. In 2012 alone, there were 674 such incidents, according to the FBI.
Hate crimes in the US persist despite specific laws that are meant to deter them. The \o “FBI” FBI has noted that in 2006, hate crimes went up nearly 8 percent, with 7,722 incidents and 9,080 offenses reported.
What drives hate-crime perpetrators? Dr. Edward Dunbar, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, believes they are fuelled by a high level of aggression and antisocial behavior. Hate criminals are not psychotic, but “they’re consistently very troubled, very disturbed, very problematic members of our community who pose a huge risk for future violence,” Dr. Dunbar says.
People who commit hate crimes are more dangerous than common criminals because they are “more likely to deliberate on and plan their attacks,” the psychologist adds.
The Kansas City shooting highlights the violence triggered by anti-Semitic antipathy in the American heartland, but in the Philippines, a particular sector of the community has increasingly fallen victim to attacks provoked by a person’s sexual orientation. Gay-bashing is a growing social and criminal problem in the country. In its website, a group calling itself the Filipino Freethinkers says that from 1996 to 2011, 103 LGBT (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender) Filipinos have been murdered. The victims were brutally killed either by torture, stabbing, suffocation, dismemberment or burning alive, the group says.
The group laments that there are “neither official policies nor rigorous studies on the issue of hate crimes” in the Philippines. “Prejudice, bias, or hate towards any minority group (such as LGBT Filipinos, Indigenous Filipinos, Filipinos of Foreign Descent, Filipinos from non-major religions) are not at all considered when investigating crimes.”
It is ironic that LGBT Filipinos are menaced by hate crimes. Our society has long been tolerant – even accepting—of LGBTs. Still, discrimination is widespread, and sometimes flares into hostility and violence.
There are initiatives in the House of Representatives spearheaded by Representatives Lisa Hontiveros and Teddy Casiño that empower the LGBT community, but they are dead in the water.
Perhaps this is a good time to breathe new life into them.