Thoughts about Tolerance.org

I was looking over the “hate group watch” offered by Tolerance.org, and I’m not quite satisfied with their analysis. Now, I am not a big fan of any of these organizations, but does anyone else think it’s a little reductivist to lump the Jewish Defense League, the Nation of Islam, and the New Black Panther Party in with violent white supremacist groups like the KKK and neo-Nazis? Having pride in your ethnicity, whatever it is, is not the same thing as advocating violence and discrimination toward other people. Demanding self-protection for your self (whether there is a valid need for it, as in the case of Jewish people, or whether there is not, as in the case of white supremacists) is not the same thing as advocating violence and discrimination toward other people.

There are white supremacist organizations that claim to be only interested in fostering “white pride” but it means something very different when some white boy (who has never had people change sides of the street because he was walking down it, who has never been beaten up for having the wrong gender attributions, and who has never had quarters tossed at him and been told to dive) demands pride and respect. But what makes the organization a hate organization is advocating violence and discrimination toward others.

I think if we start broadening the category too much, it loses all meaning. Is a lesbian separatist commune “hate group”? Is a women’s center a “hate group”? Are the exclusive, North American Indian tribal alliances “hate groups”? How do these organizations differ from the JDL, the Nation of Islam, or the Black Panthers?

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~ by realsupergirl on February 27, 2004.

9 Responses to “Thoughts about Tolerance.org”

  1. This is interesting. I did read over their criteria, which I do think has some logic.
    “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.

    This list was compiled using hate group publications and websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources and news reports.

    The Center lists only organizations and their chapters known to be active during 2002. Activities may include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing. Websites that appear to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included on the list. Listing here does not imply that a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity.”

    In particular, what stands out for me is the “attack or malign an entire class of people,” which is not typically what lesbian separatists, Native American tribes, or women’s centers do. They just say, we are going to go over here to have some safe space.

    I don’t think that Tolerance.org is arguing that any group that provides some separate space for particular groups to gather is a hate group. I think that is part of what they are looking at, and I agree that is a very questionable criteria. However, they only list a few organizations, showing, I think, that their criteria are much more specific.

    They also specifically address the Black Panther and Nation of Islam:
    “Black separatists typically oppose integration and racial intermarriage, and they want separate institutions — or even a separate nation — for blacks. Most forms of black separatism are strongly anti-white and anti-Semitic, and a number of religious versions assert that blacks — not Jews — are the Biblical “chosen people” of God.

    Although the Southern Poverty Law Center recognizes that much black racism in America is, at least in part, a response to centuries of white racism, it believes racism must be exposed in all its forms. White groups espousing beliefs similar to Black Separatists would be considered clearly racist. The same criterion should be applied to all groups regardless of their color. The total number of groups counted in 2002 was 82″

    Interesting to think about- thanks for the post.

  2. oopps! I forgot to sign- Fawn 🙂

  3. But, most religious groups “oppose” or strongly discourage marrying outside that religious group. Does that make Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Muslims, and Jews all hate groups because of this? And all of these religions have either had or advocated for separate nations based on their faith.

  4. Again I would say that the separatist, part is not the only or main criteria, although it is the first thing mentioned in the last quote. I think they should be more specific about how these are “Hate” groups– I agree, the advocating violence is pretty important criteria. However, I can definitely, imagine cases where they are not outright advocating violence, but I would still consider them hate groups. Maybe there should be another classification? 🙂 Fawn

  5. uh, in the spell-checking, a few extra commas got added to above text- sorry for the confusion. I still worship the Almighty Great Spell-check!
    🙂 Fawn

  6. Yes…according to their websites, many of the lesser known white supremacist groups (including one in based in Portland and Eugene, I think) claim to specifically oppose violence or legal discrimination. Now, they have to say some of these things to protect their 1st amendment rights, but there isn’t much violence that they’re being charged with, either…

    The case of the Jewish Defense League is even more puzzling. They’re a bit nutty and a lot paranoid, but to call them a hate group (their mission comes out of preventing another Holocaust, and assumes that if it weren’t for them, one would be imminent) seems down right offensive.

  7. Yeah, I didn’t address the JDL because I don’t know anything about them and there was nothing on the Tolerance website about them. Have you thought about writing them to ask? I am sure you are not the only one interested…:) Fawn

  8. You know, the Jewish Defense League sound like a bunch of lunatics much of the time, believing that if not for active daily resistance, we would be faced with another Holocaust tomorrow. But then movies like The Passion come out, and I hear people’s reaction to it, and I think hmmm…maybe they’re not nuts. Maybe I’m deluding myself into thinking things have really changed. Scary.

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