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Hate crimes increase across the United States

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opinion Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

A Sikh temple was the scene of the most recent slaughter of innocents. Oak Creek, Wis., the most recent killing field has raised a lot of questions around the country. Why kill innocent worshipers? Are these killings hate crimes?

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Our nation has always been a melting pot of varied origins. Our society has always adopted those who come from other lands. There has always been a struggle to assimilate.

That symbol of American promise inscribed on the Statue of Liberty is one of our nation’s mottos: “...Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp! Cries she with silent lips. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazarus’ famous poem is often recited, but few recall the essence of the verse.

I believe those words are still applicable today. Even though a neo-Nazi poured out his rage, the United State still remains one of the only remaining sanctuaries on Earth that remains a haven for freedom-loving people.

However, statistics show that hate crimes in America have increased dramatically from 2000 to 2011. In 2000 602 hate crimes were committed. Eleven years later the number had risen to 1,018. Not surprising, California, one of the most populous states and a border state with Mexico’s drug and people smuggling, reported the greatest number of hate crimes — 84. Georgia was next with 65 hate crimes. Minnesota? Our state reported 12 hate crimes, while our neighbor, Wisconsin, reported eight hate crimes, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

It appears that the latest violence against the Sikh temple was one of ignorance. It appears that the shooter, one Wade Michael Page, had assumed the Sikhs were Muslims.

Meanwhile, an Islamic mosque in Joplin, Mo., was torched Monday. “The fire at the Islamic Society of Joplin was reported about 3:30 a.m., according to the Associated Press.

Hate, as defined by Mr. Webster is “intense hostility,” was the fuel of these two recent crimes.

Just like the killings last month in Colorado, it is the twisted mind of man, not his choice of a gun or a match, that must change.

Keith Hansen

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