July 26, 2010 Program at Los Angeles City Hall: Empowering People With Disabilities

On July 26, 2010, PREVENT HATE, in partnership with the City of Los Angeles, will hold a public demonstration at Los Angeles City Hall on behalf of our joint training program to empower people with disabilities. The program will utilize labor from people with disabilities to build emergency housing in just one day in order to dispel bias against them, and to promote methods of self-sufficiency. This is part of a larger program at Los Angeles City Hall in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

PREVENT HATE continues to bring much needed, innovative programming to marginalized and disadvantaged populations. Thank you so much for your continued support.

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Upcoming Briefing Before the California State Advisory Committee for the United States Commission on Civil Rights

There will be a briefing before the education sub-committee of the California Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on Thursday, April 29, 2010. The topic of the briefing is “Free Speech on California Public University and College Campuses.”

This is hearing is open to the public and the testimony will be sent to Washington.

The reason for this briefing is that there are members of the California Advisory Committee who think anti-harrassment speech policies on university campuses contradict the right to free speech. Other committee members believe such policies are motivated to ensure that all students, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, or disability have equal access to education without being harrassed, or having to suffer a hostile learning environment. What do you think? Make your voice heard if you are a California resident.

Send us your emails and we will pass them along to the acting western regional director of the US Commission on Civil Rights, or contact us if you are interested in attending.

Natural Disasters: Opportunities for Peacemaking

Could natural disasters be opportunities for communities that are adversarial or unfamiliar with each other to cooperate rebuilding lives and renewing the environment?
 
After the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile became international news, and showed an outpouring of humanitarian concern and involvement, there has been little discussion about how to continue bringing nations together to cooperate during the redevelopment process. Countries around the world donated their time, energy, and money into rescuing victims and alleviating suffering in both Haiti and Chile when the disasters struck. But what about the months, and years to come? How will the international community engage demolished areas during the effort to rebuild?
 
Unfortunately, we can rely upon the status quo: the international community will not maximize the opportunity to bring groups of people together strategically to work hand-in-hand through the long term to redevelop areas ravaged by disaster. The reason for this is simple: lack of insight how natural disasters could become catalysts to cultivate coexistence. Yet, the opportunities clearly are there.
 
…cooperation between the international teams [in Haiti], which had arrived from 30 different states, was strengthened by the Sabbath prayer. “We sat with Jordanian security guards, an Israeli team, and people from Qatar and Egypt.
 
Working together to provide crucial services to people who are struggling, while sharing cultures with each other, is an excellent method in which rivals begin to re-evaluate each other as humane, compassionate, and friendly rather than as suspicious, destructive and untrustworthy. This is true not only in times of crisis, but during calm as well. The earthquakes in Haiti and Chile created fertile grounds to bring opponents together, to provide them with economic incentives (e.g. contracts) for rebuilding devastated areas in concert with each other, and to foster new belief in coexistence as they work together to improve the lives of disadvantaged people. Humanitarian response to large-scale emergency situations offers opportunities for adversaries to create tangible results of their cooperation, and gain first-hand insight that “the despised other” is capable of enormous goodness.
 
Nobody sane wishes tragic natural disasters to befall countries. Yet, when they inevitably do, they present new chances to promote peace by bringing adversarial or unfamiliar parties together to cooperate offering hope, healing the environment, and changing ravaged areas into places that thrive. What a great way to celebrate life… together. Thus, not only would rivals heal devastated areas, but they also would recognize each other’s humanity and begin to heal their own conflict too as they do so.
 
The next time natural disaster unfortunately strikes, just a little organization would prevent a lot of hate. 

Remaining in Control of One’s Better Self

As our nation’s economy continues to sputter like an old car that is badly in need of maintenance and repair, an increasing number of people are suffering – jobs are being eliminated, workers are being laid off, employees’ hours on the job are being reduced, cash reserves are being depleted, home owners’ ability to keep current on mortgage payments and other on-going obligations is being weakened, and the mood of the average American is souring.

One of the concerns that many of us ought to have is that this fiscal condition may prompt grossly affected folks to try to point fingers and blame innocent “others” for this on-going human and national tragedy. After all, history records the fact that in the midst of financial turmoil there is an increase in discrimination, hate and prejudice – these are but some of the ways that people act out their anxiety, fear and worry. 

Under these circumstances, we would do well to constantly monitor our own feelings and to gauge our reactions to situations not of our own making. If we are usually calm and deliberate, and we discover that some of our coping skills have become less effective simply because the flow of bad economic news – accompanied by our own uncertainty – is playing havoc with our emotional strength to endure adversity, there are steps for us to take.

Should we feel that we are under siege, rather than suffering in silence or uncharacteristically lashing out at others, it would be very helpful if we turn to people whom we trust (such as a psychotherapist, a clergyperson, et al.) and not only seek time to articulate our deepest fears but to seek guidance before we drown in these uncharted waters.

In like manner, if we find that a loved one or friend is showing signs of great angst – and we think that this condition is the manifestation of fiscal upheaval – out of concern and with compassion we need to be emotionally supportive and let that individual know that we are nearby – certainly not to interfere but to provide empathic comfort whenever that would be welcome and useful.

Each of us is endowed with a “better self;” it is sometimes very difficult to remain in control of it when we are scared. Thus, awareness and acknowledging what’s really happening are essential as we interact with others in the most wholesome ways even when challenged by a most awesome monetary crisis.

Rabbi Allen I. Freehling

PREVENT HATE Update: First Lady of Zambia in Los Angeles

From Jan. 21-28, the First Lady of the Republic of Zambia, together with Zambia’s Minister of Tourism, Environment, and Natural Resources, were in Los Angeles for a week of strategic outreach and programming. PREVENT HATE coordinated their professional schedule, with the aim of assisting them connect with greater Los Angeles to foster socioeconomic development and women’s empowerment in their country. Their trip was a big success. We laid down the foundation for L.A. to engage Zambia constructively and productively; and will continue to follow up.

They met with leaders and executives from the Jenesse Center, which is a state-of-the-art shelter for victims of domestic violence;

First Lady (Rt.) with Karen Earl (L), Executive Director of the Jenesse Center

UCLA Medical Center;

First Lady with UCLA medical staff and administration (From L to R: Dr. Gautam Chaudhuri, Chair of OB/GYN; First Lady Banda; Dr. David Feinberg, UCLA Vice Chancellor and CEO of Hospital Systems; Dr. Amy Stenson, Lead Faculty of Global Health program)

UCLA Anderson School of Management;

Catherine Namugala, Minister of Tourism, Environment, and Natural Resources for Zambia, speaking to business leaders in Los Angeles at UCLA business school

the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust;

First Lady at Los Angeles Holocaust Museum

Los Angeles City Hall;

Catherine Namugala, Minister of Tourism, Environment, and Natural Resources (L.), and First Lady Banda (C.) meeting with Miriam Long (Rt.), Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles for Education, Youth, and Families

First Lady ringing Los Angeles City Hall bell with Los Angeles City Councilmember, Tom LaBonge

and the Los Angeles World Affairs Council as part of their overall agenda.

As you probably remember, PREVENT HATE loves to party with first ladies. For the First Lady of Zambia, we partnered with FOX ENTERTAINMENT to host a social gathering on their studio lot. The First Lady first was interviewed in the Shirley Temple Room by Susan Hirasuna, and then met over one hundred PREVENT HATE guests in the executive commissary.

Invitation to social gathering with First Lady at FOX

First Lady (in red) and Minister of Tourism, Environment, and Natural Resources (in blue/green) at FOX studios party

PREVENT HATE continues to work with developing communities and emerging economies to provide them with best practices in socioeconomic development across ethnic and cultural lines.

Modern Technology and the Spread of Hate

Nearly one quarter of the world’s population uses the internet and it has become the prime means of communication and marketing around the world. I, for example, am able to easily share the details of my daily life with my friends and family in California, the United Kingdom, Germany and Taiwan in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, this fantastic technology that unites us can be used just as easily to spread hatred.
In fact, as the World Wide Web has expanded, so have hate based websites. In 2007, there were 7000 sites, 8000 sites were identified in 2008. This year, some 10,000 websites advocating hate and terrorism have been identified.
More troubling is the existence of online games that perpetuate stereotypes and encourage violence. Such games are bright, colorful cartoons designed to appeal to children. Games like Border Patrol, the objective of which is to “keep them out at any cost”, are hosted or reviewed on mainstream gaming sites such as eBaum’s World. To a child, they seem like harmless fun; in reality they plant a sinister message in impressionable minds.
The use of technology goes beyond the World Wide Web. In 2008, Kenyans were bombarded with text messages encouraging them to participate in tribal attacks which lead to immediate, widespread violence against certain ethnic groups in the country. Last month, the Oklahoman reported that gangs in Oklahoma City and Tulsa have started using cell phones and text messaging to conduct criminal activities in addition to using Facebook and YouTube to recruit members as young as seven years old.
Our constitution guarantees our right to freedom of speech while other countries, such as Germany and the United Kingdom, have criminalized hate speech. It’s unlikely we can pass similar laws in this country, so what can we do to prevent the proliferation of hate? We can use the same tools to share messages of tolerance and compassion. In other words, spread the love, not the hate.

What Triggered Major Hasan’s Massacre at Fort Hood?

How could Major Hasan have turned against his own colleagues in the army? Was this terrorism? A hate crime against non-Muslims? The act of a crazy man? All of the preceding? None of them? WHY did he do it?

These questions continue today, analyzed, brainstormed, and debated by a wide variety of people.

Chances are that Major Hasan’s actions were due to a combination of deep motives that enraged him. But the actual trigger for the violence is becoming more clear as the evidence comes out and we are allowed to analyze it for ourselves.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, for example, asks whether Major Hasan was motivated by sexual frustration. They note that he, like some of the 9/11 hijackers, went to strip clubs before his violent rampage. With this question, they begin to approach what triggered his rampage, but they don’t actually get it.

Essentially, Major Hasan has the same motivations as a homophobe who commits a hate crime against a gay person. In 1996, the Journal of Abnormal Psychology published a breakthrough study that showed, for the first time, that homophobic men have some level of homosexual arousal. This has been anecdotal for a long time … that homophobes are often motivated to commit violence against gay men because they, themselves, have same-sex attraction, but social factors repress their ability to express that attraction, so they, like all of us, try to construct a world around them that makes them feel more comfortable. The thinking goes that by eliminating the physical presence of gay people, homophobes A) do not have to be continuously reminded of what they themselves cannot have, and B) will not be tempted to step outside of their social “box” and explore behaviors they crave, but are deemed unacceptable and even sinful. Basically, if it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind.

Similar motives likely come into play with Major Hasan. I believe that Major Hasan was frustrated by cultural behaviors allowed in western societies that did not fit in with his strict religious views. He experienced temptation around him, but felt guilty participating in it. (One thing I have come to realize is that some people deal with guilt through hostility. They don’t know how to cope with guilt so they resent whatever causes it rather than work through the issues themselves.)

This explanation also provides insight as to why Major Hasan would be in contact with militant Islamists who hate the USA … not because he was a pawn doing their bidding, but because they reinforced the restrictive socio-religious box in which he felt the need to live, and gave him the internal strength to resist the enticement to participate in what Hasan viewed as sinful, westernized behavior … behavior he nevertheless desired.

Why did Major Hasan go to strip clubs? Because he was horny and wanted to be with women, but since he couldn’t let himself do it, he turned on the society that constantly tempted him and made him feel guilty for exploring those urges. Major Hasan needs to repress and control his internal urges for sex and perhaps other “decadent” behavior more readily allowed in the west by directly confronting the external society that cultivated them (and also to confront the external society that he felt perpetuated these values and behaviors abroad). This is why he turned violent. It’s almost as if he had a temper tantrum on steroids because he couldn’t allow himself to have what he truly wanted — he just couldn’t give himself permission for it. That level of internal conflict between what he wanted to do, and what he felt he was supposed to do, was too much to bear so he snapped.

Undoubtedly there are some other factors that come into play, such as mental capacity, etc., which we will find out as more evidence is brought to light. However, I do feel certain that the immediate trigger for Major Hasan’s rampage was that he no longer could deal with his internal conflict between his strict Islamic values and the behaviors allowed by western society, so he turned against the society that he believed is responsible for creating the confusion and guilt — in this case, the USA.

This article was written by Matthew Rosenthal, PREVENT HATE’s president.