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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 28, 2008 at 2:07 PM

Hate crime increase

Can’t we all just get along?

Editor, The Times:

As noted in the Nov. 24 issue of The Seattle Times hate crimes against Latinos are on the rise [“Attacks against Latinos increasing, FBI reports,” Times, Nation & World].

While a recent survey commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League shows a steep decline in concerns about racial tensions in America, hate groups and crimes are on the rise in the Pacific Northwest.

The national poll found that 66 percent of Americans view the country’s population growth due to immigration as “an advantage for America” and that Americans do not begrudge immigrant success stories.

At the same time, according the latest FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics Act (HCSA) Report, reported hate crimes are up 154 percent over the prior year in Seattle and are up 10 percent statewide.

This seeming disparity can be explained by the ominous reality of the increase in white supremacist groups and lone actors in the Pacific Northwest. The white-supremacy movement has declared this region as its future homeland, due, in part, to low population density and relatively low price of land. The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism tracks over 100 extremist groups and individuals in the area.

While the vast majority of Americans value diversity, a small number of right-wing extremist groups continue to seek and attract adherents. Post election, the volume of their rhetoric is growing. Anger among white supremacists and other right-wing extremists in response to the results of the presidential election resulted in an avalanche of vitriolic postings on racist Web sites. At one point, the chatter so overloaded the server of the most popular white supremacist Internet forum, the site was temporarily shut down.

The good news is that even as fringe groups accelerate their racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic rhetoric, the vast majority of Americans value the pluralism of our nation.

— Ellen Bovarnick, Seattle

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