News & Updates

  • Anti-Semitism: Dramatic rise in 2021

    Posted by · May 02, 2022 8:35 AM

    BBC - The number of anti-Semitic incidents around the world dramatically increased last year, a study by Tel Aviv University has found.

    The report identifies the US, Canada, the UK, Germany and Australia as among countries where there was a sharp rise.

    This was fuelled by radical left- and right-wing political movements and incitement on social media, it says.

    The report's release coincides with Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day, which begins on Wednesday night.

    Known in Israel as Yom HaShoah, the day commemorates the six million Jews murdered by Nazi Germany across Europe during World War Two.

    The Anti-Semitism Worldwide Report 2021, by the Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University's Faculty of Humanities, is based on the analysis of dozens of studies from around the world, as well as information from law enforcement bodies, media and and Jewish organisations.

    It says that in 2021 there was "a significant increase in various types of anti-Semitic incidents in most countries with large Jewish populations".

    It found that:

    • In the US, which has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, the number of anti-Jewish hate crimes recorded in both New York and Los Angeles were almost twice that of the previous year
    • In France, the number of recorded anti-Semitic incidents increased by almost 75% compared with 2020
    • In Canada, a leading Jewish group reported a 40-year record in anti-Semitic physical violence in one month - August
    • In the UK, the number of recorded physical assaults against Jews increased by 78% compared with 2020
    • In Germany, anti-Semitic incidents recorded by police were up 29% compared with 2020, and 49% compared with 2019
    • Australia also experienced a sharp rise in recorded anti-Semitic incidents, with 88 in May alone - the highest monthly total ever

    The report's authors blame in part reactions to May 2021's fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip for the rise in anti-Semitic incidents.

    That month, Israel and militants fought an 11-day conflict in which 261 people were killed in Gaza, according to the United Nations, and 14 people were killed in Israel.

    The report also calls out "the vast reach of social networks for spreading lies and incitement".

    Social media played "an exceptionally alarming role" in anti-Semitic incidents, it says.

    "The data raise concerns regarding the utility of legislation and agreements reached with social media companies on banning anti-Semitic expressions from their platforms."

    "The gravest concern is the dark web, which shelters extremists and where anti-Semitic content is freely and openly spread," it warns, referring to a part of the internet only accessible through special browsing software.

    The report also identifies the proliferation of conspiracy theories surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic as fuelling anti-Jewish hate crimes.

    "Right at the outset of the pandemic in 2020, conspiracy theories began to sprout around the world, blaming the Jews and Israel for spreading the virus," it says.

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  • ‘The fear is very real’: how Asian Americans are fighting rising hate crime

    Posted by · April 25, 2022 12:42 PM

    The Guardian - A rise in Asian American gun ownership. Blocks-long lines for pepper spray in Manhattan Chinatown. Children kept home from school by fearful parents. Elderly people who have stopped leaving their homes. A warning to Filipinos in the US, issued by the Philippine embassy in DC.

    Across the US, Asian American communities have been gripped by anger and despair as hate crimes against them have increased sharply – rising by 339% last year compared with 2020, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. As early as March 2020, the FBI issued a report predicting a “surge” in hate crimes against Asian Americans, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which happened to originate in an Asian country. Adding fuel to the fire: incendiary and racist language – used by irresponsible politicians and repeated across social media – and geopolitical tensions with China.

    “All of those are conditions that have led at other times to terrible anti-Asian violence,” says author and activist Helen Zia.

    But what’s different this time, says Zia, is that more people recognize the problem. In the 1980s, Zia helped bring about the first federal civil rights case involving an Asian American: Vincent Chin, a Chinese American man was beaten to death by two white auto-workers who took him for Japanese and blamed Japan for the car industry’s struggles. They were merely fined $3,000 each for the killing.

    Today Asian Americans, the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the US, are finally in a position to do more than stock up on pepper spray and hope for the best. Meanwhile, academic research on implicit and unconscious bias, improvements in data collection, and social movements like Black Lives Matter have contributed to greater understanding about racism and bias, and the ways that can translate into hate speech and violence. From the local through federal level, community advocates and other leaders have been organizing, debating, and building support, aimed at combating the ongoing epidemic of anti-Asian hate.

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  • Michigan Senator Mallory McMarrow Speech Against Hate

    Posted by · April 22, 2022 8:29 AM

     

     

  • Lynching is now a federal hate crime after a century of blocked efforts

    Posted by · April 18, 2022 8:17 AM

    NPR - After multiple failed attempts across twelve decades, there is now a federal law that designates lynching as a hate crime. In a Tuesday ceremony at the White House, President Biden signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act into law.

    "Racial hate isn't an old problem. It's a persistent problem," Biden said. "Hate never goes away, it only hides under the rocks. If it gets a little bit of oxygen, it comes roaring back out, screaming. What stops it? All of us."

    Under the legislation, perpetrators can receive up to 30 years in prison when a conspiracy to commit a hate crime results in death or serious bodily injury.

    Vice President Kamala Harris said that lynching is "not a relic of the past."

    "Racial acts of terror still occur in our nation. And when they do, we must all have the courage to name them and hold the perpetrators to account," she said.

    The measure is named for Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy who was abducted, tortured and killed in 1955 after the Black teenager was accused of whistling at and grabbing Carolyn Bryant, a white woman, while visiting relatives in Mississippi. Roy Bryant, Carolyn Bryant's husband, and J.W. Milam, Roy Bryant's half brother, were tried for Emmett's murder and were quickly acquitted by an all-white jury.

    The men later admitted in a magazine interview to murdering Emmett. Carolyn Bryant told an historian 50 years after the crime that Emmett had never put his hands on her.

    Rev. Wheeler Parker, the last living relative of Emmett's to witness his abduction, was at the signing ceremony.

    "Now, people can no longer get away with things that they got away with in the past," Wheeler told NBC News. He said the law "gives power to the people who are seeking justice and trying to do the right thing."

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  • The Stop Asian Hate movement is at a crossroads

    Posted by · April 11, 2022 10:15 AM

    Vox - Brianna Cea, a 24-year-old voting rights organizer based in Brooklyn, felt a painful sense of recognition after the Atlanta shootings last March.

    These shootings — which occurred at three Atlanta-area spas — took the lives of eight people, including six Asian women. The victims included Daoyou Feng, 44, Hyun Jung Grant, 51, Suncha Kim, 69, Paul Andre Michels, 54, Soon Chung Park, 74, Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49, Yong Ae Yue, 63, and Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33.

    “Seeing people who look like me being targeted and people not recognizing that they were clearly targeted because of what they looked like was hard,” Cea, who identifies as Thai, Korean, and Chinese American, told Vox.

    Initially, both police and the media appeared to accept claims that the shootings, carried out by a white man, were not racially motivated, even though the attacks focused on Asian-run businesses, and the rationale he gave was that it was a way to reduce sexual “temptation,” a statement that speaks to the longstanding objectification of Asian women. The fact that people wouldn’t acknowledge the racial aspect of the attacks only added to the trauma of the shootings, Cea emphasizes.

    “To me it was compounding that feeling of constantly feeling invisible, reckoning with that in the media and in the workplace,” says Cea, who serves as the president of the Asian American advocacy group OCA-New York and the executive director of GenVote. “In the face of this tragedy, you still go back to this narrative of erasure.”

    For Cea and a number of other Asian Americans, Atlanta was a breaking point amid two years of growing anti-Asian violence that took the form of brutal attacks on older people, vandalization of businesses, and assaults on the street. Fueled by xenophobic sentiment tied to the coronavirus’s origins in Wuhan, China, and former President Donald Trump’s use of racist terms like “China Virus,” anti-Asian harassment soared in 2020 and 2021. According to Stop AAPI Hate, an organization tracking instances of violence and verbal abuse, there were more than 10,900 incidents reported between March 2020 and December 2021.

    The devastation of the Atlanta shootings compelled many Asian Americans to speak out in a new way. In the weeks that followed, rallies erupted across more than 50 cities, and hundreds of thousands of people participated in trainings, petitions, and crowdfunding efforts to support victims and condemn anti-Asian violence. Cea was among those to host a vigil in New York City, which sought to memorialize the victims. The use of hashtags like #StopAsianHate and #StopAAPIHate took off on Twitter and Instagram as well.

    What began as a tagline on social media ultimately evolved into a national movement, spurring a reckoning across different industries, prompting new policies at the federal and state levels and transforming broader awareness of anti-Asian racism.

    Approaching the one-year anniversary of the Atlanta attacks, the Stop Asian Hate movement is at a crossroads.

    While it’s had significant achievements — including shepherding the passage of a federal hate crimes law, emboldening a new generation of Asian American activists and sparking a dialogue about anti-Asian discrimination — it also faces major questions of where to go next.

    Organizers view the policies that have passed as insufficient — and worry that the focus on policing, which some have taken in response to anti-Asian violence, could harm communities of color. As more horrific attacks make headlines, many are still searching for new ways to address the biases that are tied to such violence as well.

    “It can’t just be about raising awareness and visibility,” says Turner Willman, the social media director for the progressive advocacy group 18MillionRising. “It needs to be coupled with structural change.”

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  • Nearly 240 anti-LGBTQ bills filed in 2022 so far

    Posted by · April 04, 2022 9:31 AM

    NBC - State lawmakers have proposed a record 238 bills that would limit the rights of LGBTQ Americans this year — or more than three per day — with about half of them targeting transgender people specifically. 

    Nearly 670 anti-LGBTQ bills have been filed since 2018, according to an NBC News analysis of data from the American Civil Liberties Union and LGBTQ advocacy group Freedom for All Americans, with nearly all of the country’s 50 state legislatures all having weighed at least one bill. 

    Throughout that time, the annual number of anti-LGBTQ bills filed has skyrocketed from 41 bills in 2018 to 238 bills in less than three months of 2022. And this year’s historic tally quickly follows what some advocates had labeled the “worst year in recent history for LGBTQ state legislative attacks,” when 191 bills were proposed last year.

    The slate of legislation includes measures that would restrict LGBTQ issues in school curriculums, permit religious exemptions to discriminate against LGBTQ people and limit trans people’s ability to play sports, use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity and receive gender-affirming health care.

    Proponents of these bills say they’re about protecting children, parental rights, religious freedom or a combination of these. Opponents, however, contend they’re discriminatory and are more about scoring political points with conservative voters than protecting constituents. 

    “It’s important for people to pause and think about what is happening — especially in the health care context — because what we’re seeing is that the state should have the authority to declare a population of people so undesirable that their medical care that they need to survive becomes a crime,” Chase Strangio, the deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, said. “What more terrifying intrusion of the state could there be?”

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  • Biden signs bill making former internment camp a national historic site

    Posted by · March 28, 2022 11:00 AM

    The Hill - President Biden on Friday signed a bill that designates an internment camp where Japanese Americans were held during World War II as a national historic site. 

    Biden signed bipartisan legislation adding the ​​Amache site in Colorado to the National Park System on Friday, according to an Interior Department statement. 

    More than 10,000 people, most of whom were U.S. citizens, were detained at the camp from 1942 through 1945. It was also known as the Granada Relocation Center and was one of ten sites where Japanese Americans were held during the war. 

    Today, the site includes a cemetery, a monument and reconstructed and rehabilitated structures from when it was an internment camp. 

    “This moment is a testament to the Amache survivors, descendants, and advocates who never stopped pushing to get this done,” said Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), one of the bill’s sponsors, in a statement. “Thanks to their work, future generations will now have the opportunity to learn about what happened at Amache and the Americans who were interned there.

    The legislation passed unanimously through the Senate last month after it was briefly held up by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). Lee did not object to the specific site, but rather did not want the federal government to own more land, his office told The Associated Press at the time

    The legislation passed the House last year in a 416-2 vote.

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  • Robinson: Film highlights the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in Silicon Valley

    Posted by · March 24, 2022 8:20 AM

    If you went back to 1978 and said gay people would be able to get married, there would be openly gay elected officials or that gay and transgender people would serve as cabinet members in the United States of America, nobody would have believed it. In fact, many states still outlawed the private lives of individuals in our nation.

    But today, most people rarely arch an eyebrow at the idea of a free and equal LGBTQ+ community. In historical terms, the change has been meteoric.

    Now, a film specifically about the history of the LGBTQ+ community is playing on Comcast and may soon appear elsewhere around the nation.

    “Queer Silicon Valley” premiered on Feb. 25 at the Hammer Theatre Center in downtown San Jose. Produced and directed by former Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager, the film chronicles the rise of the LGBTQ+ community and its fight for equality in our valley.

    From gay bars to drag queen contests, through the AIDS pandemic to parades and real political and economic power. The fight for equality was never easy.

    There are many heroes in the movie, but the work of the Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee (BAYMEC), the political organization created by Wiggsy Sivertsen and Yeager, takes on tremendous significance. A single politician showed up to the group’s first fundraiser—former Councilmember Iola Williams. Today, an endorsement by BAYMEC is a heavily sought and actively promoted symbol of pride for all those seeking elected office.

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  • Yale sociologist Phil Gorski on the threat of white Christian nationalism

    Posted by · March 21, 2022 8:25 AM

    Yale - The January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was a hodgepodge of conflicting symbols.

    The protestors erected a large wooden cross and gallows. Some waved Rebel battle flags; others the Stars and Stripes. Some carried signs declaring that “Jesus Saves” while others wore sweatshirts bearing white supremacist slogans. The men who invaded the Senate chamber — some clad in body armor, one wearing a horned headdress — invoked Christ’s name as they bowed heads and prayed.

    To many, the clashing imagery was one of many bewildering and unsettling aspects of that chaotic day. To Yale sociologist Philip Gorski, the scene was instantly recognizable as an extreme form of white Christian nationalism.

    The Flag and the Cross: White Christian Nationalism and the Threat to American Democracy (Oxford University Press),” a new book Gorski coauthored with sociologist Samuel L. Perry of the University of Oklahoma, is a primer that relies on historical sources and survey data to explain the ideology, trace its origins and history, and describe the threat it poses to the United States.

    Gorski, professor of sociology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, recently spoke with Yale News about the roots of today’s white Christian nationalism and the threat it poses to democracy. The interview has been edited and condensed.

    What is white Christian nationalism?

    Philip Gorski: First, it is an ideology based on a story about America that’s developed over three centuries. It reveres the myth that the country was founded as a Christian nation by white Christians and that its laws and institutions are based on Protestant Christianity. White Christian nationalists believe that the country is divinely favored and has been given the mission to spread religion, freedom, and civilization. They see this mission and the values they cherish as under threat from the growing presence of non-whites, non-Christians, and immigrants in the United States. This is one point at which white Christian nationalism overlaps with the Make America Great American narrative. It’s the view that somebody has corrupted the country or is trying to take it away. White Christian nationalists want to take it back.

     Where are the roots of today’s white Christian nationalism?

    Gorski: By digging into the historical source materials, you can see this perspective taking shape in the 1690s, which is the title of one of the book’s chapters. In a way, you can trace it back even further, because this idea of a white Christian nation does have roots in a certain understanding of the Bible that weaves three old stories into a new story.

    One is this idea of a Promised Land. God bestows a Promised Land on the Israelites. They go to that land and find the Amalekites inhabiting it. They conquered the land. This is how a lot of the early settlers of New England, many of them Puritan, understood their situation. Quite literally, they saw themselves, like the Israelites, as a chosen people. North America was the new Promised Land. The Native Americans were the new Amalekites and the Puritans felt entitled to take their land.

    Another strand is the End Times story, which today is viewed as the Second Coming of Jesus in the most literal sense. It’s a belief that Jesus is going to come down to Earth for a final showdown between good and evil. And the Christians in America will be on the side of good.

    These two stories describe the “Christian nationalism” in white Christian nationalism. Whiteness came into play when some white Americans tried to develop a justification for slavery. The traditional justification for slavery, theologically speaking, had been that heathens and captives of war could be enslaved. Initially, this is how slavery in America was justified, but a couple of generations later, the justification didn’t really work. You can’t argue that a young boy of African descent born in the Virginia Colony in 1690 was a captive of war. His mother might have converted to Christianity, in which case he’s not a “heathen.” A new justification had to be embedded in the culture, which gave rise to the notorious idea of the curse of Ham. Because Ham had seen his father Noah drunk and naked, God placed a mark on Ham’s son Canaan and condemned his offspring to slavery. Christians used this to justify enslaving people of African descent.

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  • NYC man charged with hate crimes in attacks on 7 Asian women

    Posted by · March 17, 2022 8:32 AM

    A 28-year-old homeless man has been charged with hate crimes after a string of unprovoked attacks on women of Asian descent in New York City, police said.

    Steven Zajonc was arrested Wednesday in connection with assaults on seven women in different Manhattan neighborhoods over a two-hour period on Sunday.

    The victims were all women of Asian descent ranging in age from 19 to 57, police said. Most were punched in the face; one was shoved to the ground. Two were treated at hospitals.

    Zajonc was arrested on seven counts each of assault as a hate crime, attempted assault as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and harassment. It wasn't clear whether he had an attorney who could comment on the charges.

    Zajonc was apprehended at a midtown Manhattan library after two library guards recognized him from surveillance videos of the crime scenes and alerted police, officials with the New York Public Library said.

    According to an NYPL news release, Roshanta Williams, a guard at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation library branch, alerted senior guard Elmirel Cephas on Wednesday that a regular patron of the library looked like the suspect police were seeking.

    Cephas later spotted Zajonc walking into the library and called 911, the library officials said. Zajonc locked himself in a single-stall bathroom, and the guards monitored the area until police arrived, the officials said.

    Library officials said Zajonc, who used a Manhattan drop-in center as his address, had often locked himself in the bathroom in the past.

    “Our guards have the extremely challenging job, especially under recent circumstances, of keeping our branches safe and welcoming for all New Yorkers,” Iris Weinshall, the NYPL’s chief operating officer, said. “They do this extremely well every day, but today went above and beyond to help the NYPD keep our streets safer.”

    The attacks Sunday were part of an alarming pattern of violence directed at people of Asian descent in New York, including the killings of Christina Yuna Lee, who was stabbed to death in her apartment last month, and Michelle Alyssa Go, who was shoved in front of a subway train in Times Square in January. Neither Lee's nor Go's killing has been ruled a hate crime at this time.

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