Fight Hate

with powerful weapons of tolerance, compassion and courage

Just for kids

September 02, 1999|By Vicky Edwards | Vicky Edwards,Chicago Tribune

Ephraim Wolfe was walking down the street in Chicago with a friend early last month when a light blue car drove by.

A few minutes later, the same car drove by again and stopped. A few seconds later, Wolfe saw a flash and heard a noise.

"I thought it was a firecracker," the 15-year-old said. "Then my leg felt heavy. I picked it up, and there was a hole the size of a dime and blood gushing out. I realized I'd been shot."

The story of Benjamin Smith, who allegedly went on a shooting spree last month against several ethnic groups, made national news. Wolfe, who is Jewish, was shot on his way to synagogue. Eight others were injured in the spree -- and two men were killed.

Smith formerly belonged to a group called the World Church of the Creator, which preached the message that the white race is superior to all others. It is frustrating to people who abhor such beliefs to know what to do about such "hate groups."

What can be done about hate groups?

Legally, the state and federal government can file suits against such groups, questioning their donations and their tax-exempt status, whether they are a legal church, and whether the group is inciting members to violent acts. Also, victims can file civil suits seeking damages, or money to compensate them for injury or loss. The World Church of the Creator faces both kinds of suits.

Also, the American Jewish Committee sponsors Hands Across the Campus, a program that teaches tolerance in schools. Director Sharon Hicks-Bartlett suggested several ways for kids to be tolerant and fight hatred:

* Begin with self-respect and believe in the contributions you and your family make to society.

* Appreciate the different contributions that other families and groups have made.

* Remember what it's like to feel excluded -- include others in your groups and clubs.

* Realize that what you see is filtered through your own perceptions, and other people have different perceptions. (You might see a cuddly dog, but someone else who has been bitten by that breed sees a terrible threat.)

* No name calling; show respect.

Wolfe added this suggestion: "Teach others about these (hate) groups. Tell them this is bad; that's why we learn about the Holocaust, so it doesn't happen again.

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