Thursday, June 19, 2008

'Hate Crime' Generation?

Sticks, broken bottles, feet and fists. According to the column I just read, those were the objects used on a black youth in Marshfield, Massachusetts by a group of white assailants (From the Boston Globe):

"According to the report filed by police, witnesses "saw a large group of approximately 10-12 people including males and females beating a black male . . . The black male tried to run away over the fence but the group caught him on the other side of road and continued to jump on him, kick him, and punch him . . . all while shouting derogatory racial statements."

Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz said, "You hear a fact pattern like that, it's outrageous. It's conduct that you hope would be behind all of us. Here it is right in our face again. We will deal with all the people responsible."

The alleged brutality continued even after Robinson was knocked nearly unconscious. Police found several pools of blood, a stick with blood, and a broken beer bottle that had blood "and what appeared to be skin on the edges."

One of those arrested, Jay P. Rains, 19, of Duxbury, used a derogatory racial epithet "at least 25 times" when speaking afterward to police. All seven suspects, whose ages range from 17 to 22, are charged with attempted murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery with intent to intimidate, and civil rights violations. Under Massachusetts law, certain criminal conduct is considered a hate crime when it is motivated by bias against a person's race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability." (Read all about it here)

The brutality involved in this assault is chilling, but what is more disturbing are the ages of those involved. That so many of these kinds of acts are being committed by young people does not bode well for the future of our nation or the world. I've heard some people suggest that racist attitudes will follow the old into the grave and we'll be free our such attitudes simply through the passage of time. Apparently not. Whether through neglect or design, too few of our children and youth are being effectively prepared to participate as equals in a global, diverse civilization. This is one reason why efforts such as Anti-Racist Parent and the international grassroots initiative of spiritual and moral education being undertaken by Baha'i communities around the world are so encouraging. These efforts are based on the recognition that new attitudes and behaviors must be taught, minds and souls must be trained if we are to have a better world, a world where incidents like the one in Marshfield exist only in history books.

"Children are the most precious treasure a community can possess, for in them are the promise and guarantee of the future. They bear the seeds of the character of future society which is largely shaped by what the adults constituting the community do or fail to do with respect to children. They are a trust no community can neglect with impunity."
(The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 157, 2000, p. 8)