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News for Southeastern Arizona, provided by the University of Arizona School of Journalism

Why do we hate?

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Charlottesville. Orlando. Ferguson. These modern-day, blatant acts of racism and white supremacy — akin to those of the civil rights era — elevated the national debate surrounding hate. They forced Americans to again confront two uncomfortable questions: Why do we hate? And how do we stop it?   It’s easy to isolate our country’s hate problem to the overtly hateful moments seen at Charlottesville’s deadly white supremacy rally, Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub shooting and Ferguson’s race riots, sparked by the police slaying of the unarmed black teen, Michael Brown. But researchers say it’s the less obvious, internalized aspects of racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia that are keeping hate — and the systems of oppression that fuel them — alive in the United States. And while we all have been taught to hate, historians and social psychologists say our society can overcome it, eventually,...

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The Anonymity of Hate

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A man going under the alias Brian sits behind his computer as he anonymously posts “I’m going to kill every last … Muslim & Jew on the entire planet,” to his website bombislam.com. White supremacists and hate groups alike are now using the Internet as a forum to post their ideologies with like-minded people. And they do it all anonymously. Bombislam.com is an online community where people have the freedom to post their hate speech toward Muslims, Jews, and any other group they dislike. By doing so, it’s raising ethical questions on the Internet, especially when that speech is anonymous. The Arizona-based website is a forum for the alt-right that has gained over 200,000 hits and continues to grow. However, the creator of the website has remained anonymous since 2005. This has become a commonality for hate speech sites,...

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Racism and classism go hand in hand

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Racism and classism make for interesting bedfellows. The nonprofit Class Action, explains the interconnection of race and class as so: “In the 1800s and early 1900s, some immigrant groups, who are now considered white, faced significant prejudice and discrimination, yet only the biases against people of color were encoded into laws. To undo today’s extreme class inequality is impossible without dismantling institutionalized racism – and vice versa.” Classism and racism feed off each other. They fuel each other, and by diminishing the prevalence of one, you begin to diminish the other. The disparity between white and nonwhite income levels is increasing at the middle-class level. According to a recent Pew Research study, the median net worth for white middle income families in 2016 was four times greater than black middle income families, and 3.4 times greater than Hispanic families....

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ACTing in fear of Islam

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Once a month, a Tucson library room fills with people who are very, very, very afraid. Of their neighbors. Their collective fear doesn’t have a specific face, but has a specific faith. Islam, and the radical elements allegedly “infiltrating” America, constitute an existential threat to the (mostly elderly) men and women who meet in this Tucson library room. They are the Tucson chapter of ACT for America, a group dedicated to preventing the takeover of Sharia Law that they claim is imminent. This claim has garnered them a designation as a hate group from the Southern Poverty Law Center – and caused a considerable amount of additional fear in the Tucson chapter. “Hopefully we can do this without Antifa coming to behead us all,” Barry Webb said. “They employ Nazi tactics, they have shut down speakers like us.” Webb...

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Good white people

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“The white liberal and the white supremacist share the same root postulates. They are different in degree, not kind.” This quote by Lerone Bennett Jr. starts Shannon Sullivan’s book Good White People: The Problem with Middle-Class White Anti-Racism. With this quote she takes a strong stance of critical analysis on what it means to be white in relation to societal racism. She goes on to pose the ever-present question, “What can white people do to help end racial injustice?” This is a question many are striving to answer. Interracial relations are tied up in more than ethnicity, Sullivan explains. Socioeconomic status, the desire to be superior and the tendency to alienate and burry the past all add layers to the problem of racial inequality. Throughout her book Sullivan explores what white people currently do that doesn’t work, and what...

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Drop the swastika, keep the hate

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The jackbooted, goose-stepping, swastika-bearing members of last century’s National Socialist Movement may have changed their look and ditched the Nazi insignias, but the devotion to Hitler’s ideals haven’t budged. As they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Events like the violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, have thrust a disparate group of white supremacists, Nazis, nationalists and the KKK into the national spotlight as an ill-defined “Alt-Right.” What many considered to be fringe elements from the backwoods are now found in cities and states across the country. One of the longest-running groups is the National Socialist Movement, an organization dedicated to the same ideology and political system as Hitler’s Nazi Germany. The Southern Poverty Law Center designates the NSM as a Neo-Nazi, white supremacist, hate group. Arizona has a local chapter of the NSM, and...

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White allies stand up to racism

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White allies are organizing to stand up for people of color. Since the recent election, racial tensions have been high and white people are keen to distinguish themselves from hate groups. White allies are coming together to use their inherent privilege to work towards racial equality.  SURJ, or Standing Up for Racial Justice, is a national organization of white allies that come together to educate the community and lead movements to dismantle white supremacy and racism nationwide. Rob McLane is an active member of the local branch, SURJ Tucson.  “Whiteness has been constructed over centuries as a way of preserving the wealth of the ruling groups,” McLane said. “We will all be better off when that structure is broken down.” By being accountable to people of color, SURJ ties to make sure that they can be useful and sensitive...

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Racism in school curriculum sheds light on including students in conversation

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Calls for diversity in classroom textbooks have led to tensions over how ethnic groups are represented in school curriculum, boiling down to a case of teaching tolerance and creating more inclusive learning for students. Starting in the 1940s and 1950s following the desegregation of schools, school curriculum hit a crossroad where educators had the opportunity to write new textbooks following the use of previously segregated classroom materials. Textbooks and classroom materials have evolved since desegregation of schools in the 1960s, largely due to advocacy from groups including the NAACP. Textbooks used in classrooms across the country were found to be an issue in subjects from English to biology, not just history. It was a case of institutionalized racism, teaching students subconsciously how to view peers of different racial backgrounds through materials used in school. “For most of history in...

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Justice on the horizon for Mexican-American Studies

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Curtis Acosta was concerned. An English teacher at Tucson High School, he noticed an unsettling trend. Latino students were dropping out at a higher rate than their peers. He knew they were capable. But for some reason, they lacked the scholar’s appetite. So, he called a meeting with fellow educators from Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) to design a new curriculum, one that would instill academic pride by teaching Latin-American culture through literature, history, government and art.   In the fall of 1998, Mexican-American Studies (MAS) began at Tucson High. The classes quickly became ingrained in the student’s cultural identity. Test scores improved. Dropout rates fell. It did not take long before the troubles began, first from in-house and soon after from the state’s more conservative politicians. Public opposition to the MAS program grew as the state school superintendent...

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Unwanted horses of the West

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  President Trump’s 2018 appropriations bill suggests changing a 1971 act of Congress protecting wild horses from slaughter, and cuts the Wild Horse and Burro program by 12 percent. If passed, it will allow for the unlimited sale and slaughter of these American icons of the West. Wild horses are protected by an act of Congress from 1971, deeming them “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West” that “enrich the lives of the American people.” Yet, the U.S. government is rounding them up by the thousands and holding them on government storage lands, and spending millions to do it. The biggest opponent of wild horses is livestock farmers, who want them to stop grazing on the public lands so their cattle and sheep will have more grass to eat. The Bureau of Land Management spent over...

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