Citizens Against Hate

…seeking a kinder and gentler world

Racist Groups Target Our Youth Again

Posted by nicolen on March 22, 2009

cinnaminsonCinnaminson, New Jersey is a small town of about 15,000 people bordering the Delaware River and just outside of Philadelphia. Ninety-one percent white, Cinnaminson derives its’ name from the Native American Lenni Lenape tribe which loosely translated meand “sweet water.” The township itself is just 8 miles sqaure and claims the following, “The Township of Cinnaminson is a community of families, neighbors and businesses. Taking our name from the Lenni-Lenape Tribe, we are the place where fresh waters and fresh ideas flow. We pride ourselves on an effective education system, on neighbors who care about our homes and one another and a well-run local government dedicated to serving citizens fairly and economically.” But there is trouble brewing in Cinnaminson these days and we hope they can get a handle on it.

 

Last week, two teenagers were arrested in Cinnaminson after it was discovered that they had tortured, shot, and buried a beautiful black Labrador. Upon investigation, the police found hate literature and the boys claimed to be members of the Aryan Nations. Charges brought against the young men include animal cruelty, weapons possession in connection with the killing, committing a crime on behalf of a criminal street gang and solicitation of another to join a criminal street gang.

 

According to the news report, there are other juveniles who are believed to be part of this gang and the police will be working with the local school district to identify and curtail their activities in that area.

 

Considering the fact that both New Jersey and Pennsylvania have become hotbeds for skinheads and other racist groups, it probably should not come as any big surprise that there are groups such as these operating in the suburbs of major cities. It is troubling, however, that these groups are recruiting children so young and gaining footholds with our schools.

 

Due to the many arrests and convictions of  leaders within the White Supremacy Movement over the last few years, paranoia has caused many adherents to build small cell groups or engage in lone wolf type activities.  Targeting our young people has always been at the top of their list. This is what makes it so necessary for educators, law-enforcement and parents to educate themselves on the signs to watch for and any effective tactics to use to prevent the hate-filled message of these groups from tainting the innocence of our children.

 

It’s Spring, folks – and the activity of hate-groups promises to be heating up.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

WHITE PRIVILEGE IS WHEN…

Posted by nicolen on September 17, 2008

Mr. Wise really nailed this one!

BY Tim Wise

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you’ll “kick their fuckin’ ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re “untested.”

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office–since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s–while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you’re black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do–like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor–and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college–you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a “second look.”

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it a “light” burden.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren’t sure about that whole “change” thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 9 Comments »

COLD SHOT RETURNS

Posted by nicolen on July 7, 2008

After a bit of a break Nikki Nichols and Cold Shot will air Monday night at 8:00 Eastern time.

Join Nicole Nichols as she discusses gangs in the military; the extreme right groups – League of the South and Council of Conservative Citizens; the anti-immigration movement; and the discussion of race in America.

TO THE SHOW

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

DEMOCRACY GONE WILD

Posted by nicolen on June 18, 2008

Freedom of Speech is cherished – I understand that. But…has the internet provided a forum for speech that shouldn’t be free? Is there a point where government must draw the line?
<a href=”http://www.pasadenaweekly.com/cms/story/detail/democracy_gone_wild/6057/”>TO THE ORIGINAL SOURCE</a>

‘Democracy gone wild’
Hate speech infests online versions of local daily newspapers
06/12/2008

For the person behind the moniker “Viking Knight,” the Internet is a virtual playground for hate.
“Mexican’ts are a b…stard race and will come to nothing in the end. WHITE POWER FOREVER,” Viking Knight wrote in response to the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old boy. “Somebody saved the LAPD the trouble of icing this ‘vato.’ … He is one less Mexie on the planet, not that it counts for much.”

On the beating of an Orthodox Jew by skinheads in North Hollywood: “We should offer a reward to the guy who off’d this Christ-killer. … Jew$ are a disease.”

On the death of an Armenian girl who was denied a liver transplant by her health insurance company: “God got rid of one the Turks missed. Too bad He doesn’t get rid of all of them.”

A person might expect to find these and other vile comments by Viking Knight — including slurs against gays and Asians — posted on a white supremacist or neo-Nazi Web site.

But the banner on the top of the page belongs to the Daily News of Los Angeles, and in other cases to its MediaNews Group sister paper, the Pasadena Star-News.

Like dozens of other people who post comments through these and other newspaper Web sites, Viking Knight can remain as anonymous as he or she wishes to be. And due to the anonymity and instant access to an audience that poorly monitored newspaper and social networking sites provide, Internet hate speech is a growing national phenomenon.

“It’s democracy gone wild,” said Deborah Lauter, director of the national civil rights division of the Anti-Defamation League. She’s hoping the Daily News and the Star-News will remove racist diatribes from the Web and be more vigilant about hate speech in the future. 

“Unfortunately, we believe now that many more papers are offering this kind of [comment] service we are going to see an increase in that kind of hate rhetoric. While it is protected speech, we believe it is incumbent on a newspaper or a social networking site to step up and be a responsible corporation, and be more active in moderating [its Web site] and taking down what is clearly hate speech,” said Lauter. “Once they decide to create that forum, then they have to act responsibly and monitor it.”

The Daily News and Star-News Web sites allow any reader to post his or her views through a service called Topix, which allows discussion forums to be built around news articles and other subjects.
“It is impossible for any paper our size to read all the comments every day, so this is an issue often discussed [among the 57 MediaNews Group daily newspapers, many of which use Topix],” said Ryan Garfat, online editor of the Daily News.

Garfat said the paper typically relies on Web users to flag hate speech and other abusive posts through Topix, which forwards those complaints to editors. He said Tuesday that he plans to remove hate speech identified by this newspaper, but is already dealing with dozens of reader complaints about other posts — some of which aren’t hate speech at all.

Garfat also said that there were no plans to change how the Web site is monitored.

“The unfortunate effects of having an open forum are that these things are going to happen, and we feel they reflect poorly on the identity of the newspaper. But if we take the alternate route of eliminating comments, then I think we are not fulfilling our goal of allowing legitimate discussion within our community and would be disserving our community by doing that.”

The Star-News has had far fewer problems with online hate speech than the Daily News — the source of the three comments quoted above — and removed posts that contained hate speech following conversations with the Pasadena Weekly.

“Our policy for the comments is that we do not moderate or edit the comments before they’re posted online. However, we will remove comments that are deemed to be offensive or inappropriate,” said San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Group Senior Editor Frank Pine, who supervises the Star-News, Whittier Daily News and San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

Pine said he was not aware of Viking Knight’s hateful posts until hearing from this newspaper, and that the only complaints about comments made over the Internet had been from sources in news stories who felt they were being characterized unfairly.

Although Topix terms of service prohibit content that is “hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable,” it also warns that users “may be exposed to content that is offensive, indecent or objectionable.”

Topix is a Palo Alto-based limited liability corporation owned largely by publishing giants the Gannett Co., The McClatchy Co. and the Tribune Co., according to its Web site.  The Web site for the Los Angeles Times does not use Topix, and reader comments appear to be monitored to exclude hate speech.

At the Star-News site, Viking Knight makes it clear in one anti-affirmative action rant that he’s no fan of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, and in a separate post appears to advocate that Obama be assassinated.

“Robert Kennedy sold our courageous men in uniform out when he became a peacenik. He sold White people out when he started kissing up to the likes of Chavez, Dr. King, the mestizo farmworkers, etc. Sirhan may not be a prize, but he was just what America needed, just when we needed him,” wrote Viking Knight in response to a column by Star-News Public Editor Larry Wilson about Kennedy’s Pasadena-bred assassin. “As we approach the November elections, we could use a man like Sirhan again.”

“That post is clearly over the line,” Pine said Monday. On Tuesday it had been removed from the site, along with other posts disparaging Latino youth.

“As shocking as these kinds of things are, they are increasingly common on perfectly mainstream Web sites. Usually the paper will step in and scrub their sites of this kind of material, because if they didn’t they would become absolute nesting grounds for white supremacists. These guys are looking for a place to safely transmit their ideology and bring more people into the movement,” said Mark Potok, editor of Intelligence Report, a magazine that monitors hate groups and is produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Potok said that he’s been forced to keep a close eye on his magazine’s blog (www.splcenter.org/blog) to prevent hateful comments from being posted. People have even tried to post racially motivated threats to assassinate Obama, which he has reported to the Department of Homeland Security.
In the United States, constitutional free speech protections typically prevent legal action on hate speech unless someone is threatening or urging others to physically harm a person or racial group, said Potok, who recently testified before the Helsinki Commission (also known as the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe) about threats posed by Internet hate speech.

Potok was testifying not only as an expert, but also as a victim: A neo-Nazi group once identified him on a Web site as an enemy of their cause and posted his home address. But because the group did not specifically order its readers to do Potok harm, they didn’t break the law.

In Europe and most other Western nations, hate speech — in Germany, denying or trivializing the Holocaust — can be prosecuted as a crime. As a result, said Potok, the majority of foreign-language white supremacist Web sites are hosted through computer servers in the United States.

Viking Knight also took aim through the Star-News at the social services organization El Centro de Acción Social, which he or she wrote on May 31 “is nothing but a Reconquista terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of America.”

The next day, in response to another reader’s concern about the achievement levels of some students receiving scholarships from the organization, Viking Knight wrote: “They’re Mexican’ts, What did you expect? Their grades suck because in most high schools, you can’t major in Lowriding 101.”

El Centro Executive Director Randy Jurado Ertll said he thinks the Star-News should prevent racist comments like these — which were pulled from the site after Pine spoke with the Weekly — from reaching readers.

“Responsibility comes with freedom of expression,” said Ertll. “I was just disgusted by this. We need to be vigilant of people who use hate language. Just as we denounce hate crimes, we have to denounce hate language. Words impact people’s actions and influence others to promote more hate.”

But it doesn’t end there. One conversation chain from the Daily News involving Viking Knight and others was so rife with prejudice against a Latino teen shot to death at a party — “like all the rest of the scum too hell he went too face satan,” wrote catwomomen4u69 —  that someone claiming to be the victim’s ex-girlfriend was actually pleading with people to stop.

“Certainly we could do a better job of moderating comments,” said Garfat, who acknowledged that recent staffing cuts have affected the paper’s ability to monitor the Web site. “But, I still maintain the need to allow people to have conversations supersedes the vile comments that sometimes permeate our boards. We work with what we’ve got.”

In another conversation that devolved into slurs against “Mexicans and blacks,” someone wrote: “It’s time for a good old fashion clan meeting … come on my arean [sic] brothers … lets get out our rebel flags and let the lynching begin.”

Such vitriol targeting Latinos in general or people perceived to be illegal aliens is, sadly, “very much par for the course,” in terms of hate speech to be found on mainstream Web sites, said Potok.

“We’re in a whole new age,” said the ADL’s Lauter. “The anonymity of the Internet provides a forum so the people who wouldn’t have the proclivity to say it in public can hide behind screens. We used to say the Klan hid behind their white hoods; these [people] hide behind their screens.”

And in many ways, newspapers are behind the times in figuring out how to respond.

“There’s a larger issue in this story,” said Pine, “that is, to what degree should newspaper Web sites allow people to comment anonymously. It’s something that warrants further scrutiny. Certainly it’s a conversation we’ve been having in the newsroom and will continue to have.”

Pine and Garfat said they are reluctant to restrict comments until they are screened or increase registration requirements, as that would hinder access to the service. “We want to facilitate the free exchange of ideas and have people feeling comfortable speaking their minds, but on the other hand you don’t want people to hide behind anonymity and use it to promote hatred and say things that have no place in civilized public discourse,” he said.

That such vicious comments sat for more than a week on the Web sites of local daily newspapers angers Nat Nehdar, a friend of the Pasadena Human Relations Commission and its former chair, who dedicates much of his time to activities combating prejudice, hate and violence.

“I feel strongly that newspapers should more carefully monitor their Web sites and eliminate such trash, which in some ways can reflect on the newspaper itself. If you allow it you are not condemning it, so it seems like you are condoning this type of hate speech,” he said.

Posted in First Amendment, free speech, Racism | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

ONCE A NAZI-NOT ALWAYS A NAZI

Posted by nicolen on June 6, 2008

TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE AND MORE PICTURES

Christer Mattson, Swedish Holocaust educator, is seen during a visit to the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, Monday, June 2, 2008. They used to paint swastika graffiti, get into street fights with immigrants, distribute anti-Semitic propaganda. But after studying the cases of a few of the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis during World War II, some former Swedish neo-Nazi teenagers came to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial to underline their new attitudes. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Former neo-Nazis become Holocaust commemorators
By ARON HELLER – 2 days ago

JERUSALEM (AP) — They used to paint swastika graffiti, get into street fights with immigrants and distribute anti-Semitic propaganda.

But after studying the cases of a few of the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis during World War II, some former Swedish neo-Nazi teenagers came to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial with new attitudes.

The teens, some of whom were active members of neo-Nazi groups, visited the memorial Monday to present the findings of their research into the stories of 16 Holocaust victims from their hometown of Karlstad, and add pages of testimony for the previously unknown dead.

The project is the initiative of Swedish Holocaust educator Christer Mattsson. The concept is to take troubled youths off the street, confront their prejudices and ignorance and slowly convert them into Holocaust educators themselves.

“The first time I took a neo-Nazi to Auschwitz, I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “But after seeing it, after seeing where Jews used to live, he said: ‘I can no longer deny it happened, or salute what happened.'”

The journey has been an arduous one. Of the 100 teenagers in his program, Mattsson said about five to eight are “hard-core neo-Nazis” — some completely reformed, others not. Those, some sporting Nazi tattoos, did not make the trip to Israel, either for fear of offending survivors or to remain anonymous for their own safety.

The only former active member who arrived, 17-year-old Joar, refused to be photographed and would be identified only by his first name for fear of retribution from his former friends.

The shy, blond Joar hid behind a baseball cap and a large pair of sunglasses. He would only say that he used to have “different opinions.”

“I didn’t know so much. I’ve learned a lot about the Holocaust,” he said, through a translator. “I have a different perspective on life now.”

Sweden remained neutral during World War II. It had a very small Jewish population and closed its gates to refugees. That policy began to change as the horrors of the Holocaust became apparent and Sweden began to lean toward the allies.

In 1944, Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg began handing out papers to save thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazi death camps. After the war, some 27,000 survivors arrived in Sweden.

In Karlstad, 16 Jewish women died shortly afterward, most from illness, and were buried in a Jewish cemetery. Mattsson took his students there to ask them if they still believed the Holocaust to be a myth. They, in turn, decided to investigate the women’s stories. The result is a 100-page book that details their stories.

On Monday, they presented their findings to Israel’s official Holocaust museum and memorial.

Yad Vashem spokeswoman Estee Yaari said it probably marked the first time it had ever dealt directly with neo-Nazis.

The teenagers toured the museum and met with Mirjam Akavia, a Holocaust survivor who fled to Sweden after the war.

She vividly described her childhood and how she was yanked out of school and sent to the camps, where only she and sister emerged while the rest of her family perished.

“When I was 12, it was the end of my beautiful childhood. It was the end of everything,” she said.

The Swedish teenagers were not much older when they encountered their own local brand of anti-Semitism.

“The headmaster of my former school, who is here today, was beaten up by people I knew three years ago,” said 17-year-old Jennifer Lindstrom, who said she joined Mattsson’s group so she could have the tools to battle her classmates’ rhetoric and actions.

“Maybe because I have been studying about the Holocaust and Nazism, maybe because I have been to Auschwitz and the empty shtetels (Jewish villages) in Poland or maybe because I got sick and fed up with racism and neo-Nazis — I could not remain silent.”

Lindstrom’s principal was assaulted because he tried to keep the neo-Nazi students out of his school. The two other teenagers in the group were Johanna Karlsson and Deken Izat, a Kurdish immigrant to Sweden who used to belong to a rival gang that battled with Joar’s.

Lindstrom said that finding out what happened in her own backyard proved to be the best way for her and her new friends to counter racism.

“It is slightly unreal to be here today and handing over material that we have worked with for so long, knowing that it will be here at Yad Vashem for always,” Lindstrom said.

Posted in Anti-Semitism, Racism | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

INNOCENCE LOST

Posted by nicolen on May 9, 2008

It was one of those fantastically beautiful Florida days in May of 2007. Asma Sidani and her two beautiful sons, one five and the other eleven thought it would be a perfect time for some Taco Bell.

Seated at a table in the Tampa Bay restaurant the two children awaited the return of their mother as she placed their order. Little did they realize that the stranger seated close by, 60-year-old Thomas Plaisted, hated them simply because they were Muslim.

It didn’t take long for the bile that often accompanies such hatred to rise within Plaisted. Unleashing a torrent of racial expletives and curse words upon the two children, Plaisted then spat food into the face of the youngest and began shoving the oldest.

Shouting that he wanted to break their necks, Plaisted was confronted by patrons and workers in the restaurant and forced to flee. However, the hateful onslaught would scar the two little ones for the rest of their lives.

Incongruously, once the police arrived, they refused to take a report furthering the outrage of both the mother and the onlookers and doing nothing to assuage the terrified youth.

In a society such as ours where people from all corners of the Earth converge and dwell and work together it is inconceivable that such things continue to occur. Often we are oblivious to the deleterious acts of the crazed and the depraved. Caught up in the hustle and bustle of our own daily routines, we have a tendency to take freedom, and the acceptance of others for granted.

The Sidani children were guilty of nothing more than being children born into a Muslim family. Anticipating a favorite meal, they expected nothing more than a happy repast with their mother. Yet, they were robbed of their innocence and their security by a thief so filled with venomous hatred as to rival a rattler on a hot August night.

Thomas Plaisted was, of all things, a school bus driver for the local district. Everyday he drove young students, of every color and ethnicity, to and from their educational institutes. His actions resulted in his firing and in his being charged with a hate crime.

The failure of the police in this matter, resulted in an apology and an assurance that such negligence would not happen again. However, the very fact that it occurred at all leaves one wondering how widespread such blatant negligence might be – and if it was negligence at all.

The children are scheduled to give depositions next week. In a civilized community of humanity, children are generally valued at a higher level. We have an innate sense of protecting those who have not yet matured into adulthood. In this case, we can only hope that the children will be able to work through the trauma that Plaisted inflicted upon their young psyches.

While the actions of Plaisted are despicable, they are not without precedence, however. All to often, hate crimes against others, even the young, are being committed. They leave behind not only the physical evidence but an emotional scarring that can and, often does, last a lifetime.

Posted in Civil Rights, General Racism, Hate Crimes, Racism | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

MENDING FENCES – IT CAN HAPPEN

Posted by nicolen on May 8, 2008

http://www.theacorn.com/news/2008/0508/community/023.html

Intolerance is not the way, students taught
By Sophia Fischer sfischer@theacorn.com

JANN HENDRY/Acorn Newspapers FOES, FRIENDS- Matthew Boger, left, a gay man, and Tim Zaal, a former white supremacist, have made their peace.

A former neo-Nazi skinhead leader and a gay man discussed their unlikely friendship during a student assembly at Oak Park High School last Wednesday. The men spoke about hate, healing, forgiveness and hope.

Tim Zaal, a former white supremacist from the San Gabriel Valley, served time in jail after assaulting an Iranian couple he thought were Jewish.

Matthew Boger, thrown out of his Bay area home by his mother at age 13 after announcing he was gay, spent years living on the street. The two men, now in their 40s, met in 1981 when Zaal nearly beat Boger to death in a dark Hollywood alley. They met again 26 years later through the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

Boger, the museum manager, and Zaal, a consultant for the museum, met for lunch in May 2005. While talking about their childhoods the men realized they had met before- in the alley where Zaal helped beat Boger up. The revelation made Boger so angry he left the restaurant.

“For two weeks I thought about what I was going to do to destroy Tim’s life,” Boger said at the assembly.

Zaal publicly apologized to Boger during a presentation for visiting students. It wasn’t easy for him, but Boger forgave Zaal.

“I did it so I could heal and move forward,” he said.

Zaal urged students not to make the same mistakes he made. He compared the predominantly white neighborhood he grew up in with Oak Park. Zaal was considerably younger than his siblings and considerably influenced by them. As the neighborhood diversified, Zaal became aware of his family’s racist attitude.

“My father never said Hispanic or black people were bad but that property values were depreciating and the neighborhood wasn’t what it used to be,” Zaal said. “It’s definitely not something we’re born with- it’s definitely something we’re taught- our upbringing, our neighborhood.”

The shooting of his troubled older brother by an AfricanAmerican deeply affected Zaal. After his siblings left home, Zaal’s mother returned to work, leaving the youth on his own after school.

He began drinking, grew a mohawk, and became involved in the hardcore Hollywood punk scene where violence was common. His group vandalized cars, stores and beat people. He married a woman in the white supremacist movement and had a son. He began to raise the boy as a racist.

“Having a child does strange things to a person. It makes you have to be responsible,” Zaal said.

A turning point came when Zaal was in a store with his then 2-year-old child. The boy loudly pointed out an African-American man, using the “n-word.” Other customers stepped in to berate Zaal for teaching such language and attitude to his youngster. “It was the first time I ever felt shame,” Zaal said.

It took years for Zaal to extricate himself from the supremacist movement. His first wife is in jail, and his son is struggling with the issues of his upbringing. Zaal is now married to a Jewish woman. Following the example set by a friend, a fellow former skinhead, Zaal began volunteering at the Museum of Tolerance.

Meanwhile, Boger was living on the streets in San Francisco after his eviction from home. Cold, tired and hungry, he called his mom to ask if he could return.

“My mother said I could come home only if I was done being gay,” Boger said. “That was the last time I heard her voice.”

He eventually moved to Los Angeles and lived for years on a piece of cardboard in a park, eating out of trash cans and being victimized.

Many homeless teens hung out at a nearby burger joint. One night a group of 14 teens assaulted Boger and his friends. He ran into an alley to try to escape, but was beaten by all the attackers.

“They were kicking me, cutting me open. The last thing I remember was a boot with a razor blade in it kicking me in the head. I still have the scar from that blade,” Boger said.

The boot belonged to Zaal. When Boger came to, he was alone in the alley, bloodied and weak. “It was the most lonely, horrible feeling I ever had,” he said.

Rather than go to the police or a hospital he stole bandages and continued living in the park and healing.

“The last thing I wanted to hear was my mom saying ‘I don’t want you,'” Boger said.

He eventually got off the streets, attended a trade school and became a hair colorist. Physically and emotionally scarred, he began volunteering at the Museum of Tolerance, an experience that helped him deal with his own prejudices against non-gay people. He is now the facility’s manager.

And Boger and Zaal are good friends. Boger refers to Zaal as sort of an older brother.

The men’s message is important for students to hear, said Oak Park school board member Marie Panec.

“Our students are good kids but they are naive about the world and what can happen,” Panec said. “By hearing stories like this they can be made aware that intolerance is there in the community and how easily you can get sucked into it.”

“It really showed me how people can change in life and how a sad situation can have an impact on the future and what you do,” said senior Carly Tysch, 17.

Posted in Gender/Orientation Discrimination, Hate Crimes, Racism | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

COLD SHOT AT 8:00 EASTERN

Posted by nicolen on May 5, 2008

TUNE IN TONIGHT (MAY 7, 2008) AT 8:00 EASTERN TIME FOR THE LATEST ON COLD SHOT WITH NIKKI NICHOLS.

TOPICS INCLUDE:

*THE VNN TAKEOVER

*HATE CRIME NEWS

*STEALTH RACISM IN AMERICA

*RACISM IN THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE

The number to call is… 646-652-2899

JUST CLICK ON THE BLOGTALK BUTTON

Posted in Civil Rights, Racism | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

COLD SHOT TONIGHT AT 8:00 EASTERN TIME

Posted by nicolen on April 28, 2008

COLD SHOT WILL AIR TONIGHT AT 8:00 EASTERN TIME ON BLOGTALK RADIO.

TOPICS TO INCLUDE:

*Democrats, Racism, & November

*The Shame of the Sean Bell Trial

*The Comedy of Chris Drake, Michael Blevins, & The Roanoke Pseudo-Nazi

PHONE LINES WILL OPEN AT 8:40.

TO THE SHOW – CLICK ON THE BLOGTALK BUTTON

Posted in Civil Rights, General Racism, Racism, Racist Profiles | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

END THE SILENCE

Posted by nicolen on April 24, 2008

TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE

RONZONE: End the silence

A day to remember violence against the LBGT community

By: Raquel Ronzone

Posted: 4/24/08

The charge against him is murder as a premeditated hate crime and gun possession. If convicted, the gunman will face 52 years to life in prison.

The most lenient sentence, then, means that Brandon McInerney would walk freely at age 66. Although they were not able yet to drive, the 14-year-old gunman and his 15-year-old target Lawrence King were not too young to become victims of a homophobic society.

Yes, both teenagers were victims – casualties of an America that is not absolutely accepting of homosexuality and is thus culpable for harboring the attitudes that spurred the act of fatal violence between the two boys.

Lawyers have a few weeks – until May 8, the date of McInerney’s arraignment hearing – to decide whether the teenager will remain in adult court or return to juvenile court. The poignant reality, however, is that no legal proceedings – not even the conviction and life sentence of Brandon McInerney, will eradicate the intolerant mentalities that incite homophobic crimes.

The rulings of medical professionals have not changed those mentalities either. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association finally removed homosexuality from the “Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders.”

The homophobic motives for the teenage gunman and the classification of the lifestyle as a psychological abnormality are without warrant at best and highly unethical at worst. King’s premature death demonstrates how society still views homosexuality with contempt, judging it as a deviation from normal and correct relationships.

Lawyers and psychiatrists cannot alter this narrow-minded perspective of sexual identity. That is our responsibility. We cannot numbly allow these groundless points of view to thrive, to murder and possibly incarcerate our school-age population.

Tomorrow, the 12th annual Day of Silence, you will have the opportunity to promote acceptance of homosexuality. Vows of silence taken by students will bring attention to the “name-calling, bullying and harassment – in effect, the silencing – experienced by LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) students and their allies,” according to DayofSilence.org. This year’s student-led call to action will honor the eighth-grade murder victim.

The Web site states that “500,000 students at nearly 4,000 K-12 schools, colleges and universities organized Day of Silence events” in the past. Despite this outpouring of support, some people refuse to respect others’ right to live without verbal and physical abuse.

The Day of Truth, a project of the Alliance Defense Fund, “was established to counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective,” according to DayofTruth.org. The ADF states, “It is part of [GLSEN’s] overall strategy to change how our society perceives homosexual behavior. But the Day of Silence is a misnomer because what is truly being silenced is the Truth.”

Can anyone deny that a 15-year old is dead because of his sexual orientation? Can anyone say that raising awareness of the discrimination that our youngest citizens face is dangerous enough to warrant a counterargument?

The “Christian perspective” allegedly promoted by the Day of Truth is far from Christian – turn to theological statements for the actual Christian understanding of homosexuality. The pastoral statement, “Always Our Children,” compiled by U.S. bishops in 1997, declared, “Every person has an inherent dignity because he or she was created in God’s image. A deep respect for the total person leads the church to hold and teach that sexuality is a gift of God … Everyone should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity.”

The intrinsic, divine worth of each person is indeed a true concept but one that will yield to public opinion of homosexuality if we do not take action. By taking a vow of silence tomorrow, you will commemorate Lawrence King, Brandon McInerney and countless other victims of homophobia. With time and diligence, we will no longer need to distinguish LGBT rights from the rights of other Americans.

——————–

Raquel Ronzone is a freshman from Philadelphia, Pa. She can be reached at raquel.ronzone@villanova.edu.

Posted in Gender/Orientation Discrimination, Hate Crimes | Tagged: , , , | 14 Comments »