ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.(TNS) — Reports of antisemitic incidents in New Mexico have jumped since 2015, when eight were reported, to 24 thus far this year, according to Scott L. Levin, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks such activities.
At the same time, hate crimes in New Mexico, as reported to the FBI by local law enforcement agencies, fell from 26 in 2016 to seven last year.
Unfortunately, said Levin, there were likely many more unreported hate crimes but just how many is hard to say because out of 121 law enforcement agencies in New Mexico, only 17 actually report such crimes.
The reason, he said, is many law enforcement agencies say they don’t have the support, the systems, the time or money.
“If you don’t measure it, you’re not going to be able to manage it,” Levin said Monday during a visit to Albuquerque.
The ADL’s Mountain States Regional office covers Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. Levin is based in Denver.
Antisemitic incidents could include harassment such as racist or bigoted language in spoken or written form, but which do not rise to the level of a hate crime, which could include events such as assault or vandalism.
Levin shared a number of incidents that have occurred in New Mexico:
A written note was left at the Jewish Hillel house on the University of New Mexico campus, which was housing a Muslim student. The note read: “Kill all sand (N word).”
Also on the UNM campus a Jewish woman reported that she was targeted by Christian proselytizers who saw her wearing a Star of David necklace.
She said the proselytizers surrounded her and told her to convert or she was going to hell to atone for her sins. They further added that “those who died in the Holocaust deserved to die because they did not accept Jesus Christ as their savior, and that she’s beyond God’s grace and the only way to cleanse the world of her presence was by spilling her own blood, that she should kill herself,” Levin said.
A parent reported to ADL that both of his children attend Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School, where they experienced antisemitic bullying. The parent’s 7th grader in particular not only encountered antisemitic slurs, but suggestions that she should kill herself, Levin said.
A New Mexico Holocaust educator reported that a website he created with a Holocaust survivor was hacked, apparently by a white supremacist who posted a message saying “there was no Jewish Holocaust. It’s sad that you actually believe your own lies.” The hacker then went on to accuse Jews of killing million of gentiles in just the last century, as well as causing the “black death,” or plague.
“Antisemitic incidents are a bellwether of what’s happening to groups of color, the LGBTQ community, to Muslims and others,” as well as a harbinger of more serious hate crimes, Levin said.
He said groups that espouse racism, antisemitism, homophobia or Islamophobia appear to feel more emboldened since Donald Trump became president, but these elements have long existed in our country and Trump did not cause them.
He added that some issues taken up by the Republican Party “appeal to the white supremacists and haters out there,” and the fear is that the issues and language surrounding them are becoming mainstream politics.
“We expect our children to model what they see from their parents and their community,” as well as our national leaders, who in turn are modeling bad behavior “and attacking the institutions of our country,” he said.
Part of the ADL’s response, Levin said, is to provide educational resources and materials to schools, as well as track incidents and report the more serious ones to law enforcement agencies.
“The other thing we do is demand our leaders speak out against it,” Levin said. “When it happens on college campuses, we want the college president to speak out; when it happens in cities, we want mayors and governors and civic leaders to not normalize it.”
Americans have the constitutional right “to say the most ugly things,” Levin said, but those who oppose those things also have First Amendment rights to speak out against them.
©2018 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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