On hate crime, look to who stands accused
Jewish, Black, Muslim, queer — all under attack in the new hate crime data released Tuesday by Statistics Canada. The attackers, however, are largely uniform: young and male.
To stop the hate and violence that minorities face, we have to look at the ones that cause it. Confronting the youth and masculinity of the accused is vital to quashing a rising tide of ethno-racial, sexual and religious hatred. StatsCan’s data shows hate crimes were on the rise by five per cent in 2015. Much of that increase is attributable to attacks on Muslim and West-Asian groups. For this, The National Council of Canadian Muslims points to backlash from terrorist attacks in Paris but also to the Islamophobic tenor of the Conservative Party campaign during the 2015 federal election.
Islamophobia, however, is not just coming from older white people like Stephen Harper, Kellie Leitch and Chris Alexander. While theirs is directed at the policy level via “barbaric cultural practices” and demands for Muslim women to unveil during citizenship ceremonies, antiMuslim sentiment is also being acted on by men, and increasingly, younger ones.
The report found 87 per cent of those accused of committing hate crimes were men, and just over two-thirds of those accused were men under 25. In 2012, men also made up the majority of accused, but there’s been an uptick. In three years, the number of men accused has gone up by 3.5 per cent, and the number of young men has increased by 19 per cent.
All over, there’s evidence of this worrying trend.
Alberta has the sharpest increase in hate crimes. The most alarming proof is the presence of a group called the Three Percent, an armed anti-Muslim group with over 1,600 online members in the province.
The Statistics Canada data ends in 2015, which is exactly the point when the Three Percent formed. In an investigation of the group, VICE Canada found an all-white, heavily armed, anti-Muslim group of (mostly) men whose predilection to violence is, to many experts, unprecedented in Canada.
(Problematically, the StatsCan numbers exclude the race of the accused, though they include the group against whom hate is motivated.)
Racialized violence has been a problem for the entirety of Canada’s existence. This legacy is being carried on by young men like 18-year-old Brayden Bushby from Thunder Bay, Ont., who allegedly threw a metal trailer hitch at Barbara Kentner, a First Nations woman, who was severely injured in the attack.
Men like those in the Three Percent and anti-immigration group the Soldiers of Odin, and young ones like Brayden Bushby or indeed, Alexandre Bissonnette, the Quebec mosque shooter, are the causes of violence.
If we look away from them, we fail to see their victims.