Fighting Hate Crime – What Can We Do?

Have you ever wondered why people discriminate or commit hate crime? Have you ever felt powerless to do anything about it?images

Gordon Allport was an American psychologist who in the 1950’s studied the societal conditions and human behaviours that could lead to genocide. He also explored the circumstances which permit individuals in society to carry out acts of violence against a minority and the role we all play within that dynamic. Let me explain. Gordon Allport developed a model of discrimination to genocide; it’s called the “Allport’s Scale”. He explains that it takes very little for a society including the press, government, politicians, individuals, hate groups, and social media, to create a drip, drip of subtle negativity, laying the foundations of hate towards a particular group of people. It consists of five stages:

1. Anti-locution
2. Avoidance
3. Discrimination
4. Physical Attack
5. Extermination

People realised that Allport’s scale could be applied to many everyday scenarios. It explained bullying and harassment in the playground, the workplace even between groups of friends or colleagues. All it takes is a trickle of nasty comments behind someone’s back, avoiding the person by not including them in your social activity and treating them unfairly. Now the foundation of hate has been created; it’s a green light for a small number of people of an aggressive and violent nature to attack that person, verbally or physically.

The fifth “extermination” means, the victim of hate bec40214391 - 3d image discrimination issues concept word cloud backgroundomes sick, leaves or even in the worst case scenario commits suicide. Imagine if that scale were applied today within our world, what would it look like? Would it be the slow osmosis of negative comments against refugees, immigration, sexual orientation, a particular nationality, and even against people of an entire faith?

In essence, all those negative comments we hear seep into our subconscious and slowly develop our roots of prejudice against an individual or a group of people.  Prejudice can be fuelled by those in a position of power,  playing on people’s ignorance and fear, influencing our values, beliefs, and behaviours towards others.

As Allport’s scale rises from anti-locution to extermination fewer people, partake in the levels, but the intensity of toxic hate rises. It only takes one or two people to carry out an act of violence or hate against another human being. If the majority of society continues to buy into the hate speech, then they are unwittingly giving the violent haters the green light to attack individuals from a discriminated minority group.

Allport’s is a depressing scale, especially if it’s true that the whole of society could be accomplices to hate crime. There is good news. Allport’s Scale is a model of hope; we are not accomplices to hate and here is the reason why. There is something also called the War Model, W-A-R. It stands for:
• Withdraw
• Acquiesce
• Resist

In an environment of hate when the press, policy makers, politicians or hate groups are creating the drip, drip of hate toward a minority group of people you can either:35384189 - conceptual expression of the desire for a more humane world
1. Withdraw = Say nothing and be silent;
2. Acquiesce = Join in and part-take in the hate and even violence;
3. Resist = Stand up and challenge urban myths, ignorance, fear, prejudice, discrimination, hate, and violence by saying no! That means dialogue, love, engagement, raising your voice.

The majority of people within society are the silent withdrawers, the acquiescers and the resisters are in the minority. Who is the easiest group to influence within society from hate to tolerance, creating a world that celebrates our amazing diversity? Yes, the withdrawers. The more people that change from being the silent withdrawers to resisters destroys hate within our society.
It’s your choice W-A-R, Withdraw, Acquiesce or Resist. We can all challenge hate and change society for the better.

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Author: Sabera Ahsan 

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