AMERICAN HATE by Arjun Singh Sethi


Survivors Speak Out
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Firsthand reports on hate crime and its victims in the age of Trump.

Why does the sitting president not use his bully pulpit to denounce anti-Semitism, sexism, racism, xenophobia, and so forth? Because, insists civil rights lawyer and commentator Sethi (Georgetown Univ. Law Center), “he is a racist and a sexist, and his ideologies are white supremacy and greed.” Even if you don’t share that sentiment, it’s hard to dismiss Sethi’s belief that hate crime—motivated by the wish to do harm to people who are somehow different from the mainstream—is markedly on the rise. However, that belief often lacks hard evidence to back it. Although the FBI collects data on the incidence of hate crime, “their figures are grossly incomplete,” in part because reporting from local police agencies is voluntary and one person’s hate crime may be another’s exercise of First Amendment rights. Consequently, violations go underreported or unreported, which this collection of testimonials aims to redress by validating the reality of those crimes and the great harm they do. Student government activist Taylor Dumpson, for instance, writes of the racist threats and subsequent trauma that resulted from her having been elected student president as an African-American at American University. “We need to lean into discomfort,” she writes, “because nothing happens when we’re comfortable.” A Christian Lebanese-American in Tulsa recounts a series of violent assaults on the part of a neighbor who assumed her family was Muslim and who received the equivalent of a slap on the hand for his misdeeds: “They sent him back home, next door to the family he terrorized.” Many of the speakers in these pages locate hate crime in a pattern of fear at the loss of white privilege, about which Sethi sensibly notes, “these Americans have to…understand that the projects of justice and equity are not assaults on their racial identity.”

A useful book for those aiming to combat latter-day bigotry, with its many targets and manifestations.

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-62097-371-4
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: New Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2018


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