By Laboni Hoq

Hate crimes against Asian-Americans must stop.

The horrific killing of six Sikh-Americans in Oak Creek, Wis., at the hands of a white supremacist on Aug. 5 was the most gruesome. But it wasn’t the only recent one.

At around the same time, there were a spate of attacks on mosques around the country and the worshippers inside them. In the course of just two weeks, there were at least eight such attacks.

A mosque was burned down in Joplin, Mo., by a suspected arsonist. Rifle pellets were shot at a mosque in Morton Grove, Ill., where 500 congregants were praying inside. An acid bomb was hurled at an Islamic school in Lombard, Ill. Vandalism was directed at mosques in Hayward, Calif., North Smithfield, R.I., and Oklahoma City. And someone left dismembered pigs’ legs at the entrances of a mosque in Ontario, Calif.

Since 9/11, we have seen a backlash against those among us who even remotely resemble the Sept. 11 attackers. Members of the Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities living in the United States, through the ignorance and bigotry of others, have been held responsible for Osama bin Laden’s crime. Ironically, many of the attacks have been against Hindus and Sikhs simply because they shared some vague racial or cultural resemblance to the 9/11 Muslim attackers.

In the week immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks, there were 645 reports of bias incidents and crimes aimed at individuals of South Asian and Middle Eastern descent. In the following years, similar incidents continued, but the backlash became more targeted, including desecration of mosques and public resistance to many attempts to build new ones.  Many of these incidents clearly rose to the level of hate crimes, though existing laws did not always recognize them as such.

As these crimes show no sign of abating, the Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities must work together with other minority communities that have faced, or are facing, similar discrimination and hate crimes. Our work should not stop there, though. We must demand that our leaders fully address hate crimes and domestic terrorism. Fortunately, the U.S. Senate held a hearing on Sept. 19 on what has been driving these hate crimes and this terrorism. That’s a start. But our leaders must do more. They must see to it that incidents of hate crimes and domestic terrorism are thoroughly investigated as such, and they must help create a climate of understanding so we can all live as free and equal citizens of this nation. 

Laboni Hoq is litigation director at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. She can be reached at

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A huge win, it's also just a hit on the pause button. Here's some context and ideas about paths forward.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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