Institute focuses on deeper understandings of roots, complexity of hate
Gonzaga University's Institute for Hate Studies marks its 20th year in October with a reception, speaker and panel discussion.
From 6 to 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 12, at Gonzaga's Hemmingson Center Ballroom, there will be an evening recognizing "20/20 Vision: Gonzaga Institute for Hate Studies from 1998-2020."
The event will recognize the foresight of the founding members of the Gonzaga Institute for Hate Studies on its 20th anniversary, said Kristine Hoover, director.
Streaming from Washington, D.C., Nadine Strossen, author of the book, HATE: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship, will speak.
Nadine was the youngest president and first woman president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), serving from 1991 to 2008. She is now the John Marshall Harlan II professor of law at New York University.
The program begins at 6 p.m. with an experiential reception created by student interns, sharing stories published in the media of real people in the Inland Northwest who have been targeted by hate and who have overcome the hatred. At 6:30 p.m. there will be a recognition of the institute's founders—Karen Hardwood, Raymond Reyes, Bill Wassmuth, Ken Stern, James Beebe, Bob Bartlett and George Critchlow.
After Nadine talks, a panel will look at the Jesuit concepts of deep listening, and the perspectives and tensions between caring and free speech. Panelists include George Critchlow, emeritus faculty with Gonzaga's Law School and Joan Iva Fawcett, assistant dean for diversity, inclusion and cultural engagement at Gonzaga.
Kristine said the institute held its first formal meeting on Oct. 20, 1998 because of incidents in which African-American GU law students were targeted with vile emails.
"The university felt a need to be better prepared to respond, so in October 1998, the Institute for Take Action Against Hate started educational and research programs," she said.
"The vision has always been to focus on a deeper understanding of the roots of hate and its complexity through a multidisciplinary approach," she said.
That meant looking at why people hate through a psychological lens, a sociology perspective, and understanding of criminal justice and other disciplines including law. The goal was to look at the challenges holistically.
Research and education are central to the institute's work.
Over the years, Spokane has had active community organizations that promote justice and equality, so today Kristine said the institute sees its role as complementing and supporting the direct work of these organizations through research, in addition to GU's commitment to student formation to develop leaders to work for the common good.
About five years ago, the institute offered for two years a class on "Why People Hate." It was popular and filled in two days after it was offered.
This summer, a graduate-level class on "Contemporary Leadership Strategies to Counteract Hate" was added, along with a decision by the university to offer a minor in solidarity and social justice that has been in place for several years.
Kristine started as the director in 2016. Since then, the Institute for Hate Studies has focused on better understanding community needs and the potential for integrating research with actions the community takes.
It has held conferences inviting practitioners, academics, students and professionals to share ideas on what works and what is needed. The next international conference will be April 2 to 4 at Gonzaga on "Building Peace through Kindness, Dialogue and Forgiveness."
Another ongoing outlet is the latest Journal of Hate Studies, which shares research and knowledge on how to address hate groups and define the community as committed to justice and equality, rather than define it by acts of hate that happen, Kristine said.
"Our area has expertise to share," she said. "This region is a place where the alt-right has experimented with different strategies over the decades and we have been responding.
"We need resiliency to continue addressing this challenge. We cannot think we have done the work and are now done," she said. "The alt-right and white supremacists do new things, so we need to be aware of what white nationalism is and that white supremacy comes in suits and ties, not just in klan robes.
"Active participation in democracy is critical, because the alt-right is working to be part of the system," she said.
Kristine said that it's important for people to be aware of the agenda at a deeper level and "not allow for reframing to confuse us and how we define our political parties."
People cannot be complacent. They need to do their homework about what people who are running for office stand for.
"We need to be informed voters," she said.
Kristine said a significant component of her work is about being in relationship, accompanying people who feel threatened and helping people learn about different religious and cultural practices, so they are aware of different points of view and do not break into echo chambers.
A question she ponders is wondering about the hypocrisy of sliding into hating haters.
One resource offers stories. Sally Kohn's book, The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guide to Repairing Our Humanity, shares stories of people recognizing that all people are engaged in "othering"—thinking of others as less deserving or less than human, or our own ideas of ourselves being more deserving than others—starting with early attitudes before they reach the level of hate crimes.
"We need to reflect on ourselves when we think someone is less worthy than ourselves," she said. "How do we feel about people our children are in school with, who moves next door or what our neighbor wears. We make assumptions without getting to know individuals as human beings."
Kristine said compassion is important in helping people see each other as human beings, understanding that each acts out of a desire to do good and protect their families.
She told of an example from the Palestinian Israeli conflict of someone who had lost family members and seen children die, but realized that continuing to hate was not the answer.
She also told of a boy who decided that on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, he would post as many racial slurs as possible. Those who engaged him did so with kindness and King's quotes on nonviolence. He was able to see "the other" as a human being.
"Through our exchanges, we have the burden to turn the other cheek, but it's hard when we feel threatened," she said. "It's difficult work we are called to do, to respond with nonviolence so hate does not escalate."
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Copyright@ The Fig Tree, October, 2018