HOPE not hate Workshop: Challenging people with prejudiced views

At the weekend, several members of the #Howfar team spent their Saturday at a workshop co-run by Hope Not Hate Wales and Swansea City of Sanctuary called ‘Challenging people with prejudiced views’.

Hope Not Hate Wales is an organisation which:

Seeks to challenge and defeat the politics of hate and extremism within local communities, building resilience against the politics of hate and fear, at a national and grassroots level.

And Swansea City of Sanctuary is:

A national movement committed to building a culture of hospitality and welcome, especially for refugees seeking sanctuary from war and persecution.

The aim of the workshop was to provide us with the techniques and abilities to be able to have a calm and respectful conversation with an individual who holds prejudiced views should we find ourselves in that situation. Although prejudiced views can cover a wide variety of traits and characteristics, the workshop primarily focused on immigration in their examples. This was particularly relevant for us given that immigrants are often at the receiving end of far-right extremism and hate crimes. Therefore, we are going to share some of these examples with you in the hope that should you also find yourself in the presence of someone with prejudiced views, you can handle the conversation in a safe manner.

Myth Busting

Let us begin by busting a few immigration myths…

  1. Did you know that an individual who is a refugee is not the same as an individual who is an asylum seeker?
    • A refugee is an individual who has proved that they would face persecution in their homeland, has completed a successful asylum application, and has been officially accepted into the country by the authorities, usually for an initial period of 5 years.
    • An asylum seeker is an individual who had to flee from their homeland, has arrived in another country, has made themselves known to the authorities and is exercising their legal right to apply for sanctuary according to the 1951 Geneva Convention.
  2. Did you know that not everyone who applies for asylum receives refugee status?
    • Many who are forced to leave their country are often unable to bring the necessary evidence to claim sanctuary. A result of this can include: detention, forced removal, destitution and homelessness.
  3. Did you know that asylum seekers are not allowed to work?
    • During the asylum process, asylum seekers receive around £35 a week (this is half the amount of benefits received by British citizens), and then once the asylum seeker is given refugee status they are allowed to work.
  4. Did you know that there is no such thing as an “illegal” asylum seeker nor can anyone seek asylum in the UK without being in the UK?
  5. Did you know the asylum process can take years to process with no right to work?
    • As a result of this, depression is very common among asylum seekers.
  1. Lastly, did you know that 86 percent of asylum seekers are located in developing countries and 51 percent of refugees are children?

Unfortunately, immigrants are not always accurately portrayed by the media. Hopefully the above information will have provided you with some new knowledge around immigration. It is always a good idea to do your own research when it comes to topics such as immigration, for example, reading government publications, or third sector websites such as Hope Not Hate Wales.

Who are you speaking to?

The next thing that we learned at the workshop was to know to whom you are speaking. Have you ever stopped to think about what position the person you are speaking to holds on the spectrum of support and opposition of the cause (e.g., immigration)? Are they a passive opponent, an active opponent or a key individual in the organisation of the opposition? Having a discussion with a key individual in the organisation of the opposition (e.g. an individual who runs an anti-immigration campaign) is unlikely to end well in comparison to a discussion with someone who is a passive opponent of the opposition (e.g., an individual who may express anti-immigration views but does not actively act on these views). It is unlikely that you will be able to change the perspective of such an active member of the opposition and it is important that you think about the possibility of the conversation escalating. Take a minute to judge the situation and put your safety ahead of an engaging with potentially dangerous members of the opposition.

Rules to remember

It is important to remember the difference between having an argument and having a discussion.

Rule #1 – Do not get angry

Rule #2 – Do not construct straw men (this is when you give the impression that you are disproving your opponents argument but you are actually disproving an argument that they never advanced in the first place e.g., ‘ We can’t stop all immigration’)

Rule #3 – Do not allow your opponent to appear more nuanced that you are

Rule #4 – Do not use rehearsed, quick fired, one line facts (psychologists have found that humans have a tendency to only acknowledge and recall information that confirms our world views and prejudices, and ignore information that does not – this is called confirmation bias)

So what should you do?

We learned two techniques at the weekend: empathetic listening and Socratic questioning.

Empathetic listening is the ability to listen and understand your opponent before you are understood. The ability to listen creates a space for constructive and respectful conversation, reduces tension, builds trust, and also you might just learn something! While the other person is expressing their view, it is helpful to remember ’70/30′. This is when you do 70 percent listening and 30 percent asking questions. This is when you can use Socratic questioning techniques which are: asking for clarification (why do you say that?), probe assumptions (e.g., why do you assume this?), probe evidence (e.g., what would be an example of that), alternative perspectives (e.g., what is another way of looking at this?), and challenging implications or consequences (e.g., what do you think would result from this?). Hope Not Hate Wales have found that sometimes (but we must emphasize not always), this method not only results in the opponent showing the same respect when it is your turn to express your views, but often forces the opponent to think objectively about their own views and change their way of thinking.

We would like to thank Hope Not Hate Wales and Swansea City of Sanctuary for their workshop and would actively encourage you to participate in future workshops.

 

The Far-right in the West

What is the far-right?

Although most people have an understanding of what is meant when referring to the ‘right-wing’, it is worth noting that the typical left-right political distinction can be extremely problematic and is at the mercy of regional and nation-specific subjectivities. Simply put, there is not a specific ideology that necessarily links members of the far-right in the Southern states of America, to those in Scandinavia, or to those in Russia. Andrew Gumbel discusses this in the context of America:

The radical far-right is made up of multiple ideological strands, not all of which are complementary. Some adherents follow a racist variant of Christianity, whilst others are uninterested in religion. Some hate African Americans and Jews equally; others…have no problem with Jews. For many decades, the movement was unconcerned with Latin American immigration across the Mexican border. Now, for activists in California, Arizona and Texas, the immigrant wave has become the primary issue.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Vidhya Ramalingam, who writes for the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, notes that far-right extremism is also a broad concept, ‘encompassing a diverse range of groups with different ideologies, ranging from…youth street gangs to neo-Nazi terrorist cells, to anti-Islam activists’.  Location can often be an important factor in which demographic is most targeted by far-right extremism: in Russia Jewish people are often the most targeted; in Hungary and Slovakia it is the Romany Gypsy population; and in France it is the Arab population. This is no coincidence. It is due to the constructed identities that these groups have fostered due to their socio-history.

This raises the question: do these groups share any similarities? Clearly, they do.  Mariana Tepfenhart suggests that they are ‘in favour of strong nationalism and homogeneity, and express strong hostility towards asylum seekers and illegal immigrants… [and] oppose cultural pluralism and giving equal weight to the desires of the minority’. Similarly, Ramalingam observes that the defining features of these groups are: ‘racism, xenophobia, ultra-nationalism, and authoritarianism’. The targets and key issues may change when moving around the world, but there is a persistent undercurrent of rejecting globalisation and the multiculturalism that necessarily follows, believing that their nation should be made up primarily of those who look the same and subscribe to similar views of the world.

The growing spread

Over the past few decades, the West has seen a significant growth in far-right activities. This is often seen as a reaction to the rejection of multiculturalism and globalisation mentioned above. However, since the events of September 11th 2001, there has been a specific trend towards Islamophobia, which as Douglas Pratt notes is a ring-wing response to what the extreme right deems as extremism itself: ‘[They posit] Islam as an implacable threat fully deserving of all the opprobrium heaped upon it and justifying any exclusionary, if not eliminative, actions that can be mounted against it’. This narrative is borne out by the statistics: immediately after the July 7th 2005 bombings in London, there was a six-fold increase in the rate of right-wing violence against Muslims and similarly, after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January 2015, the French authorities noticed a 281% increase. In a similar vein, the English Defence League saw a four-fold increase in support online (from 25,000 to 100,000) within days of the murder of Lee Rigby in London in 2013.

With the spread of the extreme right, it is all too common that violence follows. Arie Perliger’s research tells of 4420 violent right-wing incidents in America between 1990 and 2012, causing 670 fatalities and 3053 injuries. Furthermore, in fourteen of the twenty-one covered years, the analysis witnessed more attacks than in the previous year and the average number of attacks between 1990 and the first eleven years of the twenty-first century rose by more than 400%. In Germany, 2015 saw roughly a 50% increase in acts of far-right violence (1408) from 2014 (990) and in 2013 estimated that there were 21,750 active extremists, including 9,500 who are potentially violent. With regards to violence that is considered a terrorist offence, Europol recorded 9 attacks by the extreme right in the EU in 2015, compared to none in 2014 (although the total number of arrests decreased from 34 to 11 in that time).

How right-wing extremists operate

Far-right groups act in a number of different ways which Ramalingam observes as: ‘Spontaneous hate crime, vandalism and hooliganism; street demonstrations; shock tactics; hate speech and incitement; and planned hate crime and terrorism’. This means that it is possible to experience it anywhere from around a football ground, to walking around a town centre, or browsing social media. Although it is not always directly physically threatening (it could, for example, be a use of hate speech or neo-Nazi vandalism), the possibility of violence is always present. It is especially dangerous because, as Daniel Koehler notes, ‘these extremist groups have developed and used violent tactics designed to be overlooked and misinterpreted by security agencies’. In short, although it may be tempting to view these groups as nothing more than thugs, they often have a lot of experience and are highly dangerous.

Perhaps the most worrying trend relating to the increase in far-right extremism is the efficacy with which they utilise the online milieu to their advantage. O’Callaghan et al. observe that there is a large community of far-right groups across Europe on Twitter which has distinct international communication, especially those who share a geographical and linguistic context. This means they are often able to gather support for their cause on the Internet with great speed. Furthermore, these groups are often targeting the next generation. Closer to home, it has been reported that the South Wales British Movement has set up its own youth wing, who are being recruited online. The use of the internet brings about exceptionally grave problems as Emily Turner-Graham explains:

Firstly, the Net brings a worldwide and highly visual (and therefore accessible) awareness to the cause it represents. Secondly – and this is of key importance in attracting an often socially vulnerable youth audience – forum websites create an immediate identification and a sense of ‘groupness’…Significantly, it does this within a void, a virtual reality. Simply by its presence, an online community immediately makes the visitor feel accepted and validates their views.

Moreover, empirical research conducted by Magdalena Wojcieszak finds that ‘those who are very involved in neo-Nazi online groups are more likely to exhibit false consensus.’ That is to say, those studied believe that their views were much closer to the mainstream than is actually the case.

In sum, although it can be difficult to pin down a specific ideology of the far-right, the commonly recurring themes are a rejection of multiculturalism in favour of ultra-nationalism and authoritarianism. It is a growing phenomenon and shows little sign of slowing down, partially because the movement is making efficient use of modern communication technology and is excelling at recruiting the next generation of extremists.

Hate Crime Statistics:

This year alone has seen the reporting of 62,518 cases of hate crime. This is a 19 percent increase on the previous year. This means that on average, 171 hate crimes are reported per day. How many more occur that go unnoticed or unreported? Race hate crimes make up 79% of that figure. How do these statistics make you feel? It is difficult to believe that a society that has come so far in terms of equal rights (e.g., same-sex marriage), appears to have not progressed at all in other areas of equality. In a time when hate crime is on the rise every year and right wing extremism is gaining more popularity, it is easy to believe for every one step forward we are also taking two steps back. It is feared that many are becoming normalised to hate crime and closely linked extreme far-right views due to the presence of far-right extremist groups across communities.

What is a hate crime?

Hate crimes are attacks against an individual or group due to their gender, race, religion, disability or sexual orientation. They can range from verbal attacks and harassment right through to physical assault. It is important to remember that if you are a victim of a hate crime or witness a hate crime, to contact the police immediately. Third party charities are also available to speak to if this is what you feel more comfortable with.

An example of a recent hate crime occurred on Oxford Street, London; a white man approached an unaccompanied woman and repeatedly told her to remove her hijab. When the woman refused, the man became aggressive and tried to physically remove her hijab himself. He managed to unpin the hijab, however, was unsuccessful in removing it. Although physically unharmed, the woman was left very distressed by the incident. Sadly, this is an example of a crime that happens far too often, the location of this one emphasising how the aggressors are not worried about the consequence of their actions. Scotland Yard issued a statement explaining that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated. Hate crime will be torn down along with the revolting attitudes of those committing them too.

Hate crime statistics;

The Home Office (2016) revealed that:

  • 49,419 (79%) were race hate crimes
  • 7,194 (12%) were sexual orientation hate crimes
  • 4,400 (7%) were religious hate crimes
  • 3,629 (6%) were disability hate crimes
  • 858 (1%) were transgender hate crimes 

 

picture1 

A recent problem for the UK is that statistics have revealed that after the EU Referendum, racial or religiously motivated attacks have risen by 41% from July 2015 to July 2016.  Nevertheless, efforts are being made to tackle and reduce this in the future. National Hate Crime Awareness Week took place very recently in October where events such as candlelit vigils took place. If you missed it, it will take place again in 2017. Perhaps between now and the next National Hate Crime Awareness Week you can have a think about hate crime in your community, and what your community can do together to reduce these shocking statistics.

We hope that these statistics will have decreased by National Hate Crime Awareness Week 2017. Speak out, be kind and don’t let hate crime be the new norm for humanity.

If you want to read more about the statistics referenced please go to https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/559319/hate-crime-1516-hosb1116.pdf

What should you do if you witness a far-right hate crime?

What is a hate crime?

Hate crime can take a number of different forms. Not only can the victim’s minority status vary from Muslim, homosexual, Jewish and more, but the action that constitutes the crime can mean a lot of different things. The Crown Prosecution Service and the Association of Chief Police Officers have an agreement the definition of hate crime is:

Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability or…transgender or perceived to be transgender.

It is worth noting that although this includes physical violence and damage to property, it also includes hate speech as described by the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006, which has since been updated to include sexual orientation and gender. Ultimately, a hate crime could mean anything from a group of people assaulting a homosexual person in the street, to the vandalism of a Mosque, to the concerted bullying of a person of Jewish faith on public transport.

What should you do?

If you witness a hate crime there are certain things you should bear in mind. Confronting the perpetrator is a bad idea. The Institute for Strategic Dialogue notes that this can be ‘difficult and risky’ and that ‘it is best to leave the one-to-one engagement with far right individuals to those who are trained and experienced in doing this’. Furthermore, Neil Chakraborti, the director of the Leicester Centre for Hate Studies suggests that you ‘don’t put yourself in any danger’. This advice is echoed by the South Wales Police. Groups such as Blood & Honour, Combat 18 and the British Movement are all active within the South Wales area. They are potentially dangerous and it is very unlikely that challenging their actions will yield a positive impact.

The important question, then, is what should you do? Chakraborti says that ‘you’ve got to rely on your moral compass: what can you do? Can you intervene? [if not,] tell a bus driver or a guard on the tube? Can you just put your arm around someone and ask if they’re all right and get them a glass of water? It might sound trivial but just that act of kindness can make someone feel less alone.’ There are many different safe ways in which you can act, either in the moment or directly after, that can help the victim feel safe and welcome in your community. However, if you do nothing, it sends the firm message that you are not willing to give such assurances.

Regardless of how you act in the moment, by far and away the most important way that you can help is to report the hate crime. Differing reports suggest that the number of hate crimes reported compared to those actually committed is anywhere from 25% to 50%. Simply put, if the police do not know about these incidents then they cannot do anything about it. Furthermore, if you witness a hate crime then you can add weight to the victim’s testimonial if they report it. You may be unsure if what you have witnessed constitutes a hate crime, yet there will be people that you can talk it through with who will take you seriously. Citizen’s Advice notes thatit’s important to keep in mind that when some hate crimes start as smaller incidents which incidents which may escalate into more serious and frequent attacks – so it’s always best to act early.

How can you report it?

There are a number of ways in which you can report a hate crime. First and foremost, if it is an emergency then you must call ‘999’ – it could be the difference between somebody ending up in hospital or not. However, if it is a non-urgent, you should call ‘101’, where you can speak to a member of South Wales Police 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you do not wish to talk directly to the police, you can report hate crime on True Vision (http://report-it.org.uk/), which acts as a third party mediator. You can also call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or visit their website (https://crimestoppers-uk.org/). Finally, you can submit a report of hate crime to other third parties such as TellMAMA (this is specific for Muslim hate crimes – http://tellmamauk.org/).

There are several avenues in which you can report a hate crime and there is a dire need for more reporting of these incidents. It is the only way in which we can move towards a community where any person of any race, religion, gender, or sexuality can feel welcome. Remember, we cannot do everything, but we must not do nothing.

 

The Bystander Effect

As members of civil society, we may assume that in an emergency, we would readily offer our help.  For example, if you passed a stranger having  a seizure in the street or you witnessed a racially motivated attack, we would all like to think we would help or be helped. However, research by psychologists and sociologists have come to the conclusion that this isn’t always the case due to a phenomenon known as the bystander effect.

What is the Bystander Effect?

The bystander effect simply refers to individuals who witness an emergency situation, yet fail to intervene due to the thought process that someone else present will. The likelihood of help being offered in these situations works in correlation to the amount of bystanders present; the fewer people around to help, the more likely help will be offered. An example of the bystander effect can be found in the 1964 murder of a woman called Kitty Genovese. Kitty was beaten and stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend when she returned home from work one night. Her screams and pleas for help were overheard by approximately 38 of her neighbours, but none intervened or even called the police. The next day, everyone wanted to know why.

Explanations of the Bystander Effect

Since the attack that horrified many, understandings of why such incidents could occur have been processed and academics have suggested explanations for this phenomenon.  The first explanation is diffusion of responsibility; assuming that other individuals present  will solve or help the situation. Thus, diminishing the responsibility of oneself. (Schwartz, & Gottlieb, 1976). When questioned why they didn’t intervene or call the police, Kitty Genovese’s neighbours simply stated they thought someone else would do it. The second explanation is feeling as though you have to behave within the social norms of your surroundings (Aronson et al., 2013). For example, if other passers-by fail to react to the incident, we conform and act as if nothing is wrong, imitating their behaviour. It is also believed that many are unsure of what is actually going on in these types of situations as they are ambiguous, meaning they wouldn’t feel comfortable getting involved. For example, in case the incident is just a ‘family argument’. Similarly, people have a tendency to not want to get involved in situations that they feel unprepared to handle. It is important to note that if you witness a violent incident, you should not intervene and make yourself a target of violence- always call for help from the police!

What do the experts say?

The first researchers to tackle the bystander effect were Latane and Darley (1968) who investigated how many individuals would report and help in a situation that demanded it. Within this 13 males and 59 females took part, as a result of completion they would receive credits for their course. The participants believed the aim of the experiment was to help provide information on possible problems that could occur for students moving to urban areas for the first time. Their responses would be kept confidential and it would simply involve sitting in a booth answering the questions through an intercom. During the experiment one participant who was also a confederate (an actor who is in on the psychological research!)  staged a seizure. The researchers manipulated the number of bystanders the individual thought were watching or listening and measured how long it took before the participant intervened. From this they found the majority of participants (85%) went to inform the researcher to help the student when they thought no one was watching, highlighting how they could not put the responsibility of the situation onto anyone else. However, only 31% sought to help when they thought there were at least four other bystanders, suggesting that the participants felt less responsible when surrounded by others, and likely assumed that someone else would step in and help instead.

What can you do?

If you believe you are witnessing a verbal or physical attack on an individual, there are a number of help-lines to call to safely help resolve these types of situations. If there is an immediate danger then 999 is the quickest and safest option. If you feel as though specialist advice is required or you know someone that has been a victim of the bystander effect and they feel as though they need personal advice, there are many websites and numbers available.

  • Stop Hate UK (24 Hour helpline)- 0800 138 1625
  • Tell MaMa (Measuring Anti- Muslim Attacks)- 0800 456 1226
  • Welsh Refugee Council- 02920 489 800
  • Albert Kennedy Trust (LGBT 16-25)- London- 020 7831 6562

 

If you are interested in researching the bystander effect in more detail, then here are some useful links to help!

Kitty Genovese

Latane and Darley