Hate is trending.
Was the Milwaukee gunman a lone, misguided individual or a member of one of the growing white supremacist groups in the U.S.?
Either way, hate is gaining momentum in this country. White supremacy in the U.S. is monitored by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a movement of various hate groups, with more than 1,000 active groups in America and growing steadily.
White supremacy is certainly not only a U.S. problem. Today, many places in Europe, South Africa, Latin America and elsewhere are struggling with the issue as well. Some of history's darkest chapters include human extermination based on race, and many of these ethnic conflicts and "cleansings" continue today, despite the famous "never again" promises of the United Nations.
However, here in the U.S., we have an upsurge of white supremacy to deal with that many people still do not fully understand.
Many white supremacist groups think they are doing God's work and some even profess that Jesus was the first Klansman. They are not just hateful for the fun of it; they are on a mission from God, which makes them even harder to reason with. And for as many peace-promoting Bible verses that peace-minded people can throw at them, they can throw as many violent ones right back. That, very sadly, is the Bible we have; one with many contradictions that forces individuals to choose the path they will follow, whether peaceful or violent.
Often, we don't see white supremacists at work on their diabolical schemes. Thanks to the Internet, hate groups can conspire and collaborate from the privacy of their homes without having to put on costumes and head out under the cover of darkness to meet.
In a recent blog post on my website, I wrote:
Despite all the anti-bullying efforts, the non-discrimination policies in place and the fairness and equality legislation, hate is not going anywhere. In fact, hate seems to be on the rise. According to an ABC news report in May, 2012, hate is experiencing explosive growth.
...For one thing, right now a big change is happening that is barely noticeable. The color of our country is changing. More than 50% of children born in 2011 were "non-white," and, for the first time in our country's history, 49% of children under five are considered minorities. (After, of course, the Native American population dwindled and the white population outnumbered them.)
Many of the people outside of the U.S., who already think of our citizens as fairly dumb, will be further confirmed in this thinking if it turns out that this crime was intended for Muslims, and the shooter didn't even know that Sikhs are not Muslims at all. That may be the only way this horrifying crime could be made any worse.
There are many differences between Sikhs and Muslims. Islam came into existence in the sixth century with the belief that Muhammad was the last of God's prophets. Sikhism is a younger religion, emerging in the 15th century. Sikhs believe that humans are equal regardless of color, religion, race and gender. They worship God and do not believe in intermediaries, including their gurus who are merely guides. Sikhs are now the fifth largest religion in the world.
Recently, I was interviewed as a guest on a Calgary talk radio show and the Canadian hosts could hardly believe that white supremacy is still alive in the U.S. The Canadians were truly fascinated in the upswing of hate here in the U.S., and some even thought it was truly a pre-Civil War movement that was long gone.
Not so. Hate is on the rise.
How did this happen in such a diverse, progressive nation?
According to alternet.org, this hate trend could be the result of the current perfect storm of high unemployment, a bi-racial president and a birthrate that for the first time consists of a non-white majority. Are all factors, and frustration fuels a lot of hate.
White supremacist hate is not only fueled by race and ethnicity alone, but also by religious discrimination. White supremacist organizations in the U.S. are explicitly Christian hate groups, and they hate any and all practitioners of other faiths.
Looking back to the spring of 1778, the Constitutional Convention resolved some of our early religious issues, possibly to prevent this type of hate from taking root, possibly so that no particular religious ideology could tightly grip our democracy.
First, they decided that there would be no religious test for a person who was intent on holding a public office; second, they allowed Quakers and others to "affirm" their commitments rather than be sworn in; and third, they decided not to recognize Christianity as the official religion of the United States of America.
So, although most of us are Christian in the U.S., Christianity is not our national religion. While most of us are white, white is not our national color. In fact, white is quickly becoming a minority color in the U.S. And as little as we may know about other faiths, we must remember that we are a religiously diverse society by design.
By better supporting the unfamiliar, can we become safer as a whole?
Individuals or groups, who act violently, believing they are carrying out the work of God, are some of today's American internal enemies. Understanding their motivations and working proactively together to resist an "only one way is the right way" mindset among Americans is becoming imperative. If we do not address this growing trend of hate head on, will we be passively positioning ourselves for more events like the recent attack on the Sikhs of Wisconsin?
Based on the recent events in the Sikh community, Eliza Wood has made her children's book, "The Tale of Queen Jehan and The Three Kingdoms," available for free download. It is a beautifully illustrated story that teaches interfaith and cross cultural collaboration through problem solving metaphor.
Follow Eliza Wood on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@elizawoodprodu