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Hate crime laws necessary

I just had to write in answer to the letter entitled “Hate Crime Laws Unfair,” [Vol. 28, No. 52]. The writer, Mr. Casey, apparently doesn’t live in the same United States as I do. The country I live in lets privileged white males’ voices drown out those of a Native American student wishing to learn from them by asking a simple question, such as the letter preceding Mr. Casey’s, “The Case is a Laugher.” The U.S. likes to perpetuate equality myths while practicing an entirely other culture, all the way to the Supreme Court.

People like Mr. Casey assume that all peoples are already on equal footing in this society and therefore in need of no remedies to make it so. “All men (and maybe women) are equal in the U.S. with equal opportunities to flourish if they will only do the hard work necessary,” they often say. This is an insidious myth that makes assumptions based on ideals but not on common practice. That is why legislation was necessary to create equal access for people of color, women and others.

Legislation for enabling the “people with special privileges” to claim their rights is necessary because they are still stereotyped, objectified and even killed for no other reason than their group affiliation. They are treated day to day as something less than those who have already flourished and gained the power and social capital to allow it for their posterity. In other words, Mr. Casey, it isn’t “fair,” that these laws are necessary to make everyone equal, but they are and they do.

Affirmative action and hate crime protection need to be legislated because in this great country of equality for all, that equality is given or guaranteed in no other way to “minorities.” Those who already have all the privileges of freedom and democracy are still unwilling to do what is right for those who look or act or believe differently than the Euro-Christian majority unless the law makes them.

That is not to group everyone of either group as believing the myth or not, or needing redress or not. It is just to say that in the U.S.A. I live in, the vast majority of Euro-Christians think everyone already is equal and needs no “special treatment or protection,” while everyone I know of another heritage or sexual identity has to live each day with a very different reality.

– Anita Glenn

Cherokee descendent

Fort Wayne, Ind.