Hate Crimes and Ethnoviolence: The History, Current Affairs, and Future of Discrimination in America

By Bahl, Vinay | Sociological Viewpoints, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

Hate Crimes and Ethnoviolence: The History, Current Affairs, and Future of Discrimination in America


Bahl, Vinay, Sociological Viewpoints


Ehrilich, Howard J. (2009): Hate Crimes and Ethnoviolence: The History, Current Affairs, and Future of Discrimination in America. Boulder. CO. Westview. 2009. pp 191.

With historic election of Obama, the first black President of the United States of America, who has been receiving 600 death threats every single day, it should not come as a surprise that in the year 2009 there has been 244 percent rise of hate groups and militias with racist ideology in the USA. (1) In this renewed context of rising race based hate groups, the book under review surely is a timely addition because it particularly focuses on the much needed analyses of social psychological level of discrimination and violence.

The author is the director of Prejudice Institute and the book is a product of various studies and papers focusing on the underlying theme of 'ethnoviolence', a term coined and developed by the author. The book is a complex and nuanced argument that is highly readable, organized in 12 short chapters that are clustered in four parts and an index. The book is a valuable resource for scholars, students and the general public.

'Ethnoviolence'-different from hate crime- is defined as an act or attempted act, motivated by group prejudice with the intention to cause physical or psychological injury. The term hate crime was developed for legislative and political reasons that exclude the process and trauma of victimization. Not all criminal acts are violent and neither are all acts of group discrimination. But all acts of 'ethnoviolence' are violent by definition: both physical and psychological. This sociological study is placed in a socio historical context as it changed since 1950s. The list of ten changing conditionalities includes the role of advertisement industry and of bureaucracy as well. Bureaucracy, that requires acceptance of impersonal orientation, treats people as objects, and advertisement industry, that promotes self worthlessness, creates negative attitude towards others. Both are surely necessary conditions for discrimination and 'ethnoviolence'.

Major part of the book is devoted to the role of news media (TV and newspapers) as a primary source for teaching and maintaining racial and ethnic attitudes and justifying many forms of discrimination. …

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