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U.S. should take more action to combat hate crimes

Nov. 16, 1999

Society cannot be formed in a place where everyone is divided by hatred. Hate crimes affect the entire society as a whole, causing a lapse in the building process of America.

President Clinton made a plea Friday night for Congress to pass a new hate-crime law to fight violence prompted by a victim's gender, sexual orientation or disability. Difference is evident in our society, but to be divided among the human race and hated for who we are is keeping America from forming a unified society.

Clinton turned for support to the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish advocacy group that has been waging its own battle against anti-Semitic violence and the spreading of hate groups.

Clinton has labeled hate crimes 'the biggest challenge' facing the nation and world and has been crusading for legislation since November 1997. The Senate later approved a hate-crimes prevention bill in July, but this bill was stalled once it reached the House. Earlier during the week, Clinton vetoed a spending bill for the Commerce, Justice and State departments, because they failed to include a Senate hate-crime provision.

Clinton proposes tougher federal prosecution of crimes that are motivated by gender, sexual orientation and disabilities, as well as the hate crimes that are presently motivated by race or religion. With these crimes included in the laws, harsher penalties would exist for the violators leading to the decrease in the number of hate crimes. Clinton's proposal would strengthen the Justice department's ability to prosecute those who commit hate crimes based on race, color, national origin or religion. The proposal would also give federal prosecutors the power to prosecute those who commit hate crimes committed because of the victim's sexual orientation, gender or disability.

The White House cited 8,000 FBI figures of hate crimes reported last year. Nearly two-thirds were initiated as a result of racial bias. Clinton has made more than 20 appeals for a hate-crimes bill,without success.

We are witnessing once again, the tragedy of people committing horrific acts of violence against each other because of their refusal to look beyond their differences to respect each other's inherent human dignity. Our diversity gives us variety and vitality, which leads to a unique society. Our commitment is to obtain equal justice and opportunity for all, giving our nation unity and purpose as well as stability.

As long as the human race is divided with hatred and racism, equality will not exist. Hate crimes are not the way to grow closer together. The crimes weaken the mind and the sense, eliminating the thought of equality. Teenagers and young adults account for a significant proportion of the country's hate crimes as both the perpetrators and the victims. Every time a hate crime is committed, tension and fear rise and cause a break in the life of the community.

The United States should continue to support efforts for reform and stabilization working toward the goal of forming a bill stopping hate crimes in America.

Trevor Cho is a sophomore undeclared major from Houston.