It takes all of us to combat hate crimes

An FBI report released this week indicates U.S. hate crimes spiked 17 percent in 2017 — a rise for the third straight year — with a 37 percent increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes, the Associated Press reports.

There were 7,175 reported hate crimes last year, up from 6,121 in 2016.

Religion-based hate crimes increased 23 percent, with more than 900 reports of crimes targeting Jews and a 16 percent hike to 2,013 hate crimes against African-Americans.

It’s true some increases may be the result of more accurate record keeping, but with the type of hatred displayed at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last month, there can be no denying that hate crimes are on the rise.

It was Oct. 27 when a lone gunman shot to death 11 worshippers there, the deadliest attack ever on Jews in the United States.

Suspected shooter Robert Bowers expressed hatred of Jews and later told police “all these Jews need to die.” He is charged with federal hate crimes and other charges.

Jewish organizations said the violence in Pittsburgh underscored the dangers of unchecked hatred in a time when anti-Semitic acts are on the rise.

Sadly, the FBI report released Tuesday indicates more than half of the reported hate crimes in 2017 were motivated by bias against a person’s race or ethnicity.

There were 1,130 reported incidents targeting people because of their sexual orientation, including 679 anti-gay hate crimes. Anti-Muslim hate crimes were down about 11 percent, according to the report.

It is unconscionable that Americans can exhibit such hatred toward one another in this day and age. Isn’t this the nation that rose up as a melting pot of peoples from vast heritages? Aren’t we becoming more accepting of differences than in our past?

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker called hate crimes “despicable violations of our core values as Americans.”

We agree. We were glad to see Americans, including hundreds locally, rise up and join hands and voices against the reprehensible act in Pittsburgh. It proves that while true evil does exist in society, so does the opposite of such evil. And in the end, love, respect and support always can overpower such abhorrent acts.

“This report is a call to action,” Whitaker said.

Let us all heed that call to action, and work to demonstrate love and kindness, not just to those in our likeness, but to all.

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