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The Golden State of Hate

The Golden State of Hate: Balmeet Singh Interview

A video account by a Bakersfield Sikh who was seemingly targeted for his skin color and turban.

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[vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_raw_html]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[/vc_raw_html][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]A video account by a Bakersfield Sikh who was seemingly targeted for his skin color and turban.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Education

Branding Irony: OC High School Students Rebel Against Confederate Mascot

Co-published by The Daily Beast

Will an Orange County high school drive Old Dixie down and replace its Confederate-soldier mascot of 50 years?

Charles Davis

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Whistling Dixie: Savanna High School’s football-team version of its mascot.

An Orange County icon
of white supremacy
is being challenged.


Co-published by The Daily Beast

Savanna High School has a Confederate soldier for a mascot, and defenders of  “Johnny Rebel” — chosen by the student body back during the civil rights movement — argue that the branding is part of their heritage. However, Savanna High School is not in the Deep South, where one might expect such a controversy, but in Southern California’s Orange County, a few miles from Disneyland.

Savanna High School's Johnny Rebel mascot.

Savanna High School’s Johnny Rebel mascot.

Lay-Onna Clark, 15, didn’t give it much thought until she and some friends formed a black student union last August, the start of her junior year. It was when they started designing T-shirts that it really hit them: “The mascot supports white supremacy — that one race is superior to another,” she said in an interview. Indeed, it literally represents one race fighting to enslave another.

According to a flier handed out by anti-mascot activists at a Thursday, November 2 meeting of the Anaheim Union High School District Board of Trustees, the predominantly white students in the class of 1967 who chose to be represented by Johnny Rebel — a term for a Confederate soldier, and the stage name of a prominent white supremacist musician — did so to send “a clear message that people of color were not welcome at Savanna High School or in Anaheim.”

Savanna H.S. Alumnus:
“1999 is when the Confederate flag became a problem. I was in the basketball program… and we hosted Compton High School.”

A lot has changed in 50 years. Whites now make up less than 10 percent of the student body at Savanna and, as of the 2010 Census, are but a slim majority in Anaheim. But a lot of things haven’t changed, too. The election of President Donald Trump, and subsequent displays of explicit white supremacy in the streets of cities like Charlottesville, Virginia (and a 2016 Ku Klux Klan rally in Anaheim), have served as a reminder of that, driving home what “heritage” means with respect to the Confederacy.

Clark said realizing the meaning of Johnny Rebel — depicted on a large quilt hung behind the board of trustees as a soldier clad in gray, charging with rifle in hand — led her and three friends to campaign for its removal. They approached the school board last fall with their concerns, and the board has responded by initiating a process that seems likely to see Savanna’s mascot at the very least rebranded.

On October 25 the Orange County Register reported that 56 percent of students had voted to “rebrand” Johnny Rebel, with another 18 percent expressing support for doing away with the mascot altogether; 26 percent sided with the status quo. The vote came eight years after the school tore down an old, dilapidated statue of the Confederate mascot, the paper noted.

The non-binding vote came after a student-led forum on the issue, and after the school devoted a week to raising “awareness and understanding” of the mascot’s place in history.

“I believe this could be a teachable moment for the entire country,” Superintendent Michael Matsuda said ahead of Thursday’s meeting.

Gabriel San Román graduated from Savanna in 2000. A staff writer for OC Weekly, he’s written about how, when he was there, the school still featured the battle flag of the pro-slavery South at its pep rallies. In an interview, he recalled how the school’s “rebel” theme used to be even more explicitly tied to white supremacy, and how that required changing.

“Nineteen ninety-nine is when the Confederate flag became a problem. I was in the basketball program… and we hosted Compton High School.” With many black students expected to attend the game, the schools’ respective principals decided something should probably be done about the large symbol of white supremacy in the gymnasium. “So what they had the cheerleaders do is make a bunch of signs, and those signs were awkwardly placed… to cover the shame of the Confederate flag during that game.”

After that, the school began quietly phasing out the Confederacy.

“I think it’s happening now because Anaheim has changed, demographically, and with that so has the political makeup of the school board,” San Román said of the latest controversy. As the city has become less white, it’s become more liberal.

A Johnny Rebel supporter warned of a slippery slope where we “remove all the things in the history books that offend people.”

 

But change should be not overstated. Since she began campaigning against her school’s mascot, Clark said she’s discovered that white supremacy still lurks in the halls.

Social media — “Snapchat and Instagram” — is where the abuse is most brazen. “They were calling us niggers and all kinds of stuff, saying they were going to jump me after school,” she said. She no longer takes the bus home from school; instead, she waits in the principal’s office for her mother to pick her up.

But “it’s not about feeling safe,” Clark said. “I think the mascot is more about people feeling comfortable being themselves.” She’s not sure what should replace it — “maybe a bird?” — but she wants one “that will make everybody feel equal. Not just for the African-American community, also for the Latino community, the Korean community, Pacific-Islanders. The majority of people in this district. It’s not just African-American and white. It’s not that type of battle.”

Yet it’s not a battle without resistance. At the November 2 board meeting, several people, including one man from out of town who said he read about the debate in a local paper, spoke in favor of keeping Johnny Rebel.

And Jeanne Tenno, of the class of 1976, said she is “proud to be a Savanna Rebel,” and warned of a slippery slope where we “remove all the things in the history books that offend people — the bad history.”

“Let’s correct the historical record,” she continued. “Give back the American Indians their land; the land that belonged to Mexico; the kingdom of Hawaii. And let’s return the land that was stolen from the interned Japanese. Because that’s what this is becoming.”

A decision on whether to head down that road could come as soon as today, November 6, when the Savanna school board will host a special forum with students at the high school.


 

Update: Anaheim’s school district voted Nov. 6 to rebrand Savanna High School’s mascot — shedding the Confederate image and name of Johnny Rebel, but retaining the school’s  “rebel” identity.

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The Golden State of Hate

San Francisco Marchers Drop Hammer on Planned Right-wing Rally

On Saturday community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by the extreme right-wing group Patriot Prayer, which was eventually canceled by its organizers. David Bacon’s images captured the mood of the city.

David Bacon

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Editor’s Note: On Saturday community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by the extreme right-wing group Patriot Prayer, which was eventually canceled by its organizers. David Bacon’s images captured the mood of the city.


SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Members of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, CWA local 39521, carry their union banner. Copyright David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 26AUGUST17 - Community organizations and unions in San Francisco marched up Market Street, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and racists in San Francisco. Members of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, CWA local 39521, carry their union banner. Copyright David Bacon


Copyright David Bacon

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The Golden State of Hate

Scenes from Berkeley’s Anti-Fascist Protest

Responding to a planned right-wing rally in the heart of Berkeley, community organizations, left-wing and anti-racist groups, churches, religious leaders and others marched through the streets of that city Sunday. Alameda County sheriff’s deputies confronted the marchers when they arrived at City Hall.

David Bacon

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Responding to a planned right-wing rally in the heart of Berkeley, community organizations, left-wing and anti-racist groups, churches, religious leaders and others marched through the streets of that city Sunday. Alameda County sheriff’s deputies confronted the marchers when they arrived at City Hall.


BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Alameda County Sherriffs deputies confront the marchers when they arrive at the City Hall. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Alameda County Sherriffs deputies confront the marchers when they arrive at the City Hall. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Alameda County Sherriffs deputies confront the marchers when they arrive at the City Hall. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Alameda County Sherriffs deputies confront the marchers when they arrive at the City Hall. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Copyright David Bacon

BERKELEY, CA - 27AUGUST17 - Community organizations, leftwing and anti-racist groups, churches and religious leaders and others marched through the streets of Berkeley, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest a planned rally by Nazis and white supremacists. Copyright David Bacon


Copyright David Bacon

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The Golden State of Hate

The Golden State of Hate: California Hate Crime Watch

The white supremacist march in Charlottesville, and its explosive aftermath, have focused the nation’s attention on the far right and its ideology of intolerance. Across the country, hate crimes are on the rise — and California is no exception.

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The Golden State of Hate

From Remembrance to Resistance: The 48th Manzanar Pilgrimage

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, in which President Franklin Roosevelt authorized the forced removal of anyone who posed a “threat” to designated military zones during World War II.

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A recreation of one of the guard towers. The barbed wire fence surrounded the entire camp and armed guards manned the towers. Anyone who touched the barbed wire fence was shot at by the guards. Parents constantly warned their children to stay far away from the fence.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

On April 29 an estimated 2,000 people from around the country convened for the 48th annual Manzanar Pilgrimage. This year, 2017, marks the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, in which President Franklin Roosevelt authorized the forced removal of anyone who posed a “threat” to designated military zones during World War II. From 1942 to 1945, over 120,000 persons of Japanese descent were imprisoned in 10 concentration camps. Manzanar was the first camp, located in an inhospitable valley along California’s Eastern Sierras.

For many survivors, the camps were a source of trauma and rarely spoken of in the decades after World War II. Activist Pat Sakamoto recalled her mother saying, “There’s nothing to remember.” Longtime activist Warren Furutani described this silence as the impetus for the search for Manzanar: “It couldn’t help but stir the curiosity of the generation that was born after [the] camp.” On December 26, 1969, Furutani and over 150 other activists and survivors made the first pilgrimage to Manzanar—and galvanized a Japanese-American civil rights movement.

In 1970, the Manzanar Committee formed to advocate for the establishment of Manzanar as a National Historic Site. It would be another 22 years before they achieved their goal. During this time, many of the Manzanar Committee members became part of the Redress Movement, which in 1988 won small reparations for the survivors of the camps and a formal government apology. Yet the pilgrimages continued. Monica Mariko Embrey, granddaughter of the late Manzanar activist Sue Kunitomi Embrey, explained, “This is a place for community, connection and building.”

The Manzanar Committee has worked to include other communities in the pilgrimage, including the Paiute tribe, which was forcibly removed from Manzanar in 1863. Recently, the Paiute and Shoshone tribes helped defend the land from a planned Los Angeles Department of Water and Power solar farm. In the years since 9/11, the Committee built strong relationships with Muslim and Arab-American communities. Asmaa Ahmed, from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, drew connections between E.O. 9066 and President Donald Trump’s E.O. 13769, the travel ban signed in January that originally targeted seven Muslim-majority countries. Ahmed explained, “The two orders are separated by a period of 75 years, but both were born out of the same culture of fear and prejudice.”

Kristin Fukushima, a Little Tokyo, Los Angeles community organizer, added, “With this new administration and the threats that [Trump] poses for those most vulnerable and marginalized—the Muslim community, immigrants, refugees and queer folks—there [are] a lot of reasons to come together and remember what we cannot allow to happen again.”

Yet many at the pilgrimage fear that camps or registries could indeed happen again, unless communities organize to prevent history’s repetition. Alan Nishio, recipient of the 2017 Sue Kunitomi Embrey Legacy Award, declared, “We are here to remember but we need to move from remembrance to resistance.” And traci ishigo, organizer with the coalition Vigilant Love, asked, “What will our community’s legacy be at the end of these four years?”

The pilgrimage program closed with an interfaith ceremony in the camp’s cemetery and an interpretation of the bon odori dance, honoring the 146 who died while imprisoned in Manzanar.

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The Golden State of Hate

From Remembrance to Resistance: The 48th Manzanar Pilgrimage Photo Essay

From Remembrance to Resistance: The 48th Manzanar Pilgrimage. A photo essay by Joanne Kim.

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On April 30, 2017, the 48th Manzanar Pilgrimage took place, marking the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the forced removal of Japanese-Americans. Manzanar was the first concentration camp created by FDR’s order, and was located in a valley below the Eastern Sierras.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Activist Pat Sakamoto, co-host of the 48th Manzanar Pilgrimage, whose mother was incarcerated at Manzanar. Photo by Joanne KimActivist Pat Sakamoto, co-host of the 48th Manzanar Pilgrimage, whose mother was incarcerated at Manzanar.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

An estimated 2,000 people attended the 48th annual Manzanar Pilgrimage this year. Photo by Joanne KimAn estimated 2,000 people attended the 48th annual Manzanar Pilgrimage this year.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

First-timers to the Manzanar Pilgrimage raise their hands. Many new people were inspired to attend this year due to similarities between the Trump administration’s rhetoric and policies against immigrants and Muslims, and the fate of Japanese-Americans during WWII. Photo by Joanne KimFirst-timers to the Manzanar Pilgrimage raise their hands. Many new people were inspired to attend this year due to similarities between the Trump administration’s rhetoric and policies against immigrants and Muslims, and the fate of Japanese-Americans during WWII.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

A performance by Vigilant Love, a solidarity community against violence and Islamophobia, which co-hosted the Manzanar Pilgrimage. From left: Kathy Masaoka, Sahar Pirzada, Traci Kato-Kiriyama, traci ishigo. Photo by Joanne KimA performance by Vigilant Love, a solidarity community against violence and Islamophobia, which co-hosted the Manzanar Pilgrimage. From left: Kathy Masaoka, Sahar Pirzada, Traci Kato-Kiriyama, traci ishigo.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Mary Nomura, known as the “Songbird of Manzanar,” sings “When I Can,” a song written for her when she was a high school senior interned there. Photo by JoanMary Nomura, known as the “Songbird of Manzanar,” sings “When I Can,” a song written for her when she was a high school senior interned there.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Eleven flags represent each of the 10 concentration camps and the 442nd Infantry Regiment. They are held by representatives each year at the Manzanar Pilgrimage to honor all of the internees, sites and veterans. Photo by Joanne KimEleven flags represent each of the 10 concentration camps and the 442nd Infantry Regiment. They are held by representatives each year at the Manzanar Pilgrimage to honor all of the internees, sites and veterans.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Attendees of the 48th Manzanar Pilgrimage listen to the program inside the camp’s cemetery. Photo by Joanne KimAttendees of the 48th Manzanar Pilgrimage listen to the program inside the camp’s cemetery.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

UCLA Kyodo Taiko has opened the Pilgrimage program for the past 11 years. Photo by Joanne KimUCLA Kyodo Taiko has opened the Pilgrimage program for the past 11 years.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Sahar Pirzada (center), of Vigilant Love. In the years since 9/11, the Manzanar Committee built strong relationships with the Muslim and Arab-American communities. Photo by Joanne KimSahar Pirzada (center), of Vigilant Love. In the years since 9/11, the Manzanar Committee built strong relationships with the Muslim and Arab-American communities.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

146 incarcerees died at Manzanar. Most were cremated, and their ashes were buried here or sent to hometown cemeteries. Six graves remain, most reburied elsewhere by their families. Photo by Joanne Kim146 incarcerees died at Manzanar. Most were cremated, and their ashes were buried here or sent to hometown cemeteries. Six graves remain, most reburied elsewhere by their families.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Asmaa Ahmed of the Council on American-Islamic Relations spoke as part of the 48th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage’s program. She connected Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 with Trump’s Executive Order 13769, the travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries. “The two orders are separated by a period of 75 years, but both were born out of the same culture of fear and prejudice.” Photo by Joanne KimAsmaa Ahmed of the Council on American-Islamic Relations spoke as part of the 48th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage’s program. She connected Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 with Trump’s Executive Order 13769, the travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries. “The two orders are separated by a period of 75 years, but both were born out of the same culture of fear and prejudice.”
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Attendees of the Manzanar Pilgrimage in the camp’s cemetery. In the middle stands “I Rei To/Soul Consoling Tower," a monument by Ryozo Kado installed in August 1943 to honor those who are buried there. Families collectively paid for its construction. Photo by Joanne KimAttendees of the Manzanar Pilgrimage in the camp’s cemetery. In the middle stands “I Rei To/Soul Consoling Tower,” a monument by Ryozo Kado installed in August 1943 to honor those who are buried there. Families collectively paid for its construction.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Rev. Alfred Yoshi Suyuki of the Konko Church leads a Shinto ceremony to begin the interfaith service at the I Rei To monument. Photo by Joanne KimRev. Alfred Yoshi Suyuki of the Konko Church leads a Shinto ceremony to begin the interfaith service at the I Rei To monument.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

During the Shinto ceremony, National Park Rangers are given leaves to place on the I Rei To monument to honor those who were interned at Manzanar. Rangers worked with the Japanese-American community in creating the Manzanar Historic Site’s Museum and the re-creation of the barracks and buildings. Photo by Joanne KimDuring the Shinto ceremony, National Park Rangers are given leaves to place on the I Rei To monument to honor those who were interned at Manzanar. Rangers worked with the Japanese-American community in creating the Manzanar Historic Site’s Museum and the re-creation of the barracks and buildings.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

The interfaith service included Buddhist ministers from the Los Angeles Buddhist Temple Federation, Christian ministers and a Shinto minister. Photo by Joanne KimThe interfaith service included Buddhist ministers from the Los Angeles Buddhist Temple Federation, Christian ministers and a Shinto minister.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

An attendee holds a flower during the interfaith service to place on the I Rei To tower to honor those who were interned at Manzanar. Photo by Joanne KimAn attendee holds a flower during the interfaith service to place on the I Rei To tower to honor those who were interned at Manzanar.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Attendees pray with the Buddhist ministers during the interfaith service at the Manzanar Pilgrimage. Photo by Joanne KimAttendees pray with the Buddhist ministers during the interfaith service at the Manzanar Pilgrimage.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Buddhist minister reads a sutra as part of the interfaith service at the Manzanar Pilgrimage. Photo by Joanne KimBuddhist minister reads a sutra as part of the interfaith service at the Manzanar Pilgrimage.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Attendees honor those who were interned at Manzanar during the interfaith service in the camp cemetery. Photo by Joanne KimAttendees honor those who were interned at Manzanar during the interfaith service in the camp cemetery.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Attendee places a flower on the I Reo To/Soul Consoling Tower monument to honor those were forced to live in the Manzanar camp. Photo by Joanne KimAttendee places a flower on the I Reo To/Soul Consoling Tower monument to honor those were forced to live in the Manzanar camp.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Attendees pay their respects to those who were interned at Manzanar. Photo by Joanne KimAttendees pay their respects to those who were interned at Manzanar.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Alan Nishio was born in the Manzanar concentration camp in 1945. He received the 2017 Sue Kunitomi Embrey Legacy Award for his lifetime’s work on a wide range of issues from the redress movement, to helping found UCLA’s Asian American Studies program, the fight for affordable housing and the preservation of Los Angele’s Little Tokyo. Photo by Joanne Kim Alan Nishio was born in the Manzanar concentration camp in 1945. He received the 2017 Sue Kunitomi Embrey Legacy Award for his lifetime’s work on a wide range of issues from the redress movement, to helping found UCLA’s Asian American Studies program, the fight for affordable housing and the preservation of Los Angele’s Little Tokyo.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Steve Wong, Asian American Studies instructor, and two Pasadena City College students. Wong described the importance of coming to Manzanar and recognizing the danger of rhetoric that scapegoats marginalized groups for "military necessity” as happened with those of Japanese descent during WWII and is currently happening with Muslim groups under the Trump administration. Photo by Joanne KimSteve Wong, Asian American Studies instructor, and two Pasadena City College students. Wong described the importance of coming to Manzanar and recognizing the danger of rhetoric that scapegoats marginalized groups for “military necessity” as happened with those of Japanese descent during WWII and is currently happening with Muslim groups under the Trump administration.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Former Manzanar child internees Irene Hadeishi, left, and her sister Marge Taniwaki, right, in a re-created children’s room. In order to make the re-creations of living spaces accessible, National Parks was required to make the living quarters much nicer than what was the reality for Irene and Marge and other families. They slept in cots separated only by sheets from other families with floors made of wood beams with space between them so the dust would come up constantly from the ground into their eyes and mouths. Photo by Joanne KimFormer Manzanar child internees Irene Hadeishi, left, and her sister Marge Taniwaki, right, in a re-created children’s room. In order to make the re-creations of living spaces accessible, National Parks was required to make the living quarters much nicer than what was the reality for Irene and Marge and other families. They slept in cots separated only by sheets from other families with floors made of wood beams with space between them so the dust would come up constantly from the ground into their eyes and mouths.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Runners from the Manzanar 50/500, which is a relay run from Los Angeles to Manzanar in its 26th year. Mo Nishida (center), the founder of the run, felt it was a way to connect with the Native American communities and the cultural and spiritual uses of running. Danny Ramos (right) has been running with him for 10 years. Photo by Joanne KimRunners from the Manzanar 50/500, which is a relay run from Los Angeles to Manzanar in its 26th year. Mo Nishida (center), the founder of the run, felt it was a way to connect with the Native American communities and the cultural and spiritual uses of running. Danny Ramos (right) has been running with him for 10 years.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

View of the Eastern Sierras from the Manzanar concentration camp. The buildings from the camp were relocated around Lone Pine and other nearby towns, but the roads of the camp exist for visitors to walk through. Photo by Joanne KimView of the Eastern Sierras from the Manzanar concentration camp. The buildings from the camp were relocated around Lone Pine and other nearby towns, but the roads of the camp exist for visitors to walk through.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Re-creation of the women’s latrine at Manzanar concentration camp. When re-creating some of the concentration camp’s buildings, Japanese-Americans who had been incarcerated at Manzanar felt it was extremely important to show people what life was like in the camp. There were no stalls in the toilets or the showers. Photo by Joanne KimRe-creation of the women’s latrine at Manzanar concentration camp. When re-creating some of the concentration camp’s buildings, Japanese-Americans who had been incarcerated at Manzanar felt it was extremely important to show people what life was like in the camp. There were no stalls in the toilets or the showers.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Recreation of the dining hall at the Manzanar camp located in a valley below the Eastern Sierras (background). Photo by Joanne KimRecreation of the dining hall at the Manzanar camp located in a valley below the Eastern Sierras (background).
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Recreation of the latrine and dining hall at the Manzanar concentration camp located in a valley below the Eastern Sierras (background). Photo by Joanne KimRecreation of the latrine and dining hall at the Manzanar concentration camp located in a valley below the Eastern Sierras (background).
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

Recreation of a barracks at the Manzanar camp. Photo by Joanne KimRecreation of a barracks at the Manzanar camp.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

The old buildings and barracks from the Manzanar concentration camp were relocated and reused in nearby towns. Signs are placed throughout the camp’s grounds that point to what was once located there. Photo by Joanne KimThe old buildings and barracks from the Manzanar concentration camp were relocated and reused in nearby towns. Signs are placed throughout the camp’s grounds that point to what was once located there.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

A recreation of one of the guard towers. The barbed wire fence surrounded the entire camp and armed guards manned the towers. Anyone who touched the barbed wire fence was shot at by the guards. Parents constantly warned their children to stay far away from the fence. Photo by Joanne KimA recreation of one of the guard towers. The barbed wire fence surrounded the entire camp and armed guards manned the towers. Anyone who touched the barbed wire fence was shot at by the guards. Parents constantly warned their children to stay far away from the fence.
Photo by Joanne Kim

 

 

 

 

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The Golden State of Hate

The Golden State of Hate

A new series exploring how, despite California’s resistance to Donald Trump, white nationalism and extremism are alive and well in the nation’s most diverse state.

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California and White Nationalism in the Age of Trump


Almost from the day Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the White House in 2015, California, along with the rest of the country, has experienced an uptick of reported hate and bias incidents. As Capital & Main’s new series reveals, most of these attacks have been directed at immigrants and people of color. But this is hardly new – the Golden State has a long history of violence and discrimination against nonwhites and the foreign born. This week we present the first of our series’ findings:

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The Golden State of Hate

The Golden State of Hate: How the Internet Made Hate Respectable

Co-published by Fast Company
Ed Leibowitz talks about the mainstreaming of white supremacist ideologies with Professor Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

Ed Leibowitz

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A white supremacist neo-Nazi group, the National Socialist Movement, hold a rally on the south steps of L.A. City Hall. Photo by Ted Soqui

Co-published by Fast Company

In late February of 2016, the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan decided to hold a “White Lives Matter” rally at a public park a couple of miles north of Disneyland.

By all reports, the rally seemed less a show of force than a last gasp — with the entire white supremacist contingent spilling out of a single SUV. By the time the time the Klansmen arrived at the park, they were far outnumbered by about 50 mostly peaceful counter-demonstrators.

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A small group of protestors, however, escalated from getting into the Klansmen’s faces to beating them with sticks, and one of their victims retaliated with a knife — non-fatally as it turned out. William Hagen, Grand Dragon of the Loyal White Knights in California, might have suffered more than just a cracked rib had not a loose-limbed criminal justice professor and former cop named Brian Levin put himself in front of the dragon’s prone body and begun shouting at his assailants to back off while waiting for the police to arrive.

“Who knew in 1985, when I learned those skills at the New York Police Academy, that someday I’d be using them at a Klan rally in Anaheim?” Levin says, with the sing-song drawl of a Borscht Belt comedian. “I wouldn’t have bet money on that.” Who knew, too, that more than three decades later Levin would find himself tracking a national surge in hate crimes, with the Golden State surprisingly at the forefront?

After some years of patrolling Washington Heights and Harlem, Levin left the NYPD and took his undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania and his law degree at Stanford. Two decades ago, as a professor at a small New Jersey college, he launched the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, which he moved to California State University, San Bernardino when he received a teaching position there in 1999. Today, under his aegis, the center is the largest university research organization of its kind.

Brian Levin defends an injured Klansman from angry protestors at Anaheim rally in February, 2016. Photo by Eric J. Hood.

Brian Levin defends an injured Klansman from angry protestors at Anaheim rally in February, 2016. Photo by Eric J. Hood.

The center’s report for 2015, the most recent year for which annual statistics are available, reveals a California more roiled by ethnic and religious division than is commonly believed. While the nation experienced a 6.7 percent increase in hate crimes, California had a 10.4 percent spike. Anti-Semitic acts of violence and vandalism were up over 21 percent in California, while the rest of the country saw a nine percent jump. The number of hate crimes nationally against Latinos was essentially unchanged from the previous year, while in California, which became a Latino-plurality state in 2014, incidents were up. “Not all of that increase can be laid at the feet of the alt-right,” Levin says. “Turf battles between people of color  — in L.A. County particularly — counts for a substantial amount of that increase.”

The statistics show a state far from unified in standing up to what many Californians regard as the excesses of Trump’s America. “California is on the leading edge of whatever weather pattern is hitting the U.S.,” Levin says, “and I think the same holds for intergroup relationships and politics. We certainly tend to be more of a blue state — but don’t kid yourself. Go to places like Fresno. We talk about California seceding, but there’s also talk of California breaking in two.”

Levin wasn’t reassured by the poor showing of the Loyal White Knights that afternoon in Anaheim, in large part because the surge in bigotry and hate crimes his center was following went far beyond what traditional extremist groups could foment on their own. Rather, he was aware of how deeply their fringe ideas and violent measures had permeated the mainstream through social media and news sites with a surprising subtlety.

“Bigots have become especially nuanced and skillful at hanging onto the coattails of important public policy debates that are going on in the mainstream,” Levin says. “There’s an online cottage industry that attaches bigotry to real policy issues from national security to free speech on campus to the economy.”

“Some groups continue to promote overt racism and bigotry,” Levin continues, “but some are changing their branding, or toning down the swastikas. And their arguments are no longer that Latinos and immigrants are genetically inferior. It’s that they’re culturally or religiously inapposite to American ideals. Or sometimes the message is shrouded in the idea that we’re under attack from terrorists.”

Brian Levin

Brian Levin

Scrubbed of the eugenics ideology or race war rhetoric that may have helped spawn them, and freed from the stigma that comes from being the clear intellectual property of Nazi skinheads or the Ku Klux Klan, many of these messages about the otherness of immigrants have gained an expansive audience among Americans who might not embrace them in their raw form. While these views haven’t been given much credence on NBC’s Meet the Press or in the op-ed pages of the Washington Post, they’re regularly part of the conversation on Fox News, and they constitute the bread and butter of breitbart.com — which now enjoys a monthly readership greater than the entire populations of Great Britain, Germany or France.

Until his fall from alt-right grace last week, British journalist and self-described “free-speech fundamentalist” Milo Yiannopoulos was particularly effective at spreading the alt-right’s loaded messages — both as an editor and a columnist at breitbart.com, and as the heroic subject of articles by other contributors to that website.

Late last October, Breitbart gave ample coverage to a speech Yiannopoulos delivered at the University of California, Irvine. “MILO: ‘Western Civilization’ Is At Stake This Election,” one headline blared. “Let me tell you about where I come from,” Yiannopoulos was quoted in the article. “The UK is falling to Islam as we speak.  There are whole neighborhoods that are no-go zones, much like the Calais Jungle in France.”

“Here in Irvine, we’re barely an hour from San Bernardino,” he continued, referring to the scene of a 2015 mass shooting that was initially reported as an act of jihad. “Everywhere in America you can see the signs that an alien culture, dedicated to the destruction of the West, is making its presence felt.”

That was Yiannopoulos at his most high-minded. On his “Dangerous Faggot” college speaking tour, he attacked a BuzzFeed News senior tech reporter as “a typical example of a sort of thick-as-pig shit media Jew” and, days before the Republican National Convention, he had been banned for life from Twitter after his tweets unleashed a torrent of online racist harassment against Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones.

Fifteen years ago, a provocateur like Milo Yiannopoulos would have had his work cut out for him securing 10 minutes to air his views on a cable access channel in Schenectady. But during last year’s presidential election and beyond, as a towering Breitbart superstar, he had the opportunity to reach a potential audience of well over 100 million. As of this writing, according to recent Alexa internet rankings, breitbart.com was the 35th most popular website in the U.S., only nine rungs below nytimes.com and seven spots above washingtonpost.com. As for the Loyal White Knights of the KKK, America’s largest contemporary Klan organization, their website came in at 94,210.

Visitors to breitbart.com and consumers of alt-right-inflected social media feeds can embrace bigoted ideas without becoming card-carrying members of the American Nazi Party or the Klan — and certainly without having disapproving neighbors see them in such a way.

Social media feeds and incendiary Internet news sources had begun eliminating communication barriers to an extreme nationalist agenda some time before Donald Trump declared his candidacy for president. Nevertheless, America’s two-party system had continued to serve as a bulwark against furthering the alt-right’s brand of right-wing populism in Washington — as opposed to the business-friendly, entitlement-slashing programs of leading congressional conservatives like U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan. “I think it gets lost in the wash sometimes, but the alt-right is not a disruptive movement,” Levin says. “It’s a dismantling movement – a movement to dismantle the Republican party as an effective bloc. Alt-right leaders saw people like John McCain or George H. W. Bush, who signed the original 1990 Hate Crimes Act, and any other Republicans who would speak out against bigotry, as enemies.”

Early in his campaign, Trump predicted he’d be able to mend fences for an increasingly polarized America. “I will be a great unifier for our country,” he assured CNN’s Jake Tapper in October of 2015. By calling for a Muslim ban and for mass deportations of undocumented Mexican immigrants, by declaring that Hillary Clinton should be put behind bars, by disparaging the Black Lives Matter movement, by declining to repudiate David Duke, or to make any mention of six million Jewish victims in his presidential message for International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2017, Trump didn’t exactly bring a divided nation closer together. But he did manage to join hands among bigots, white nationalists and separatists from all factions. “What has been so fascinating yet disturbing,” says Levin, “and what I haven’t seen in all my professional lifetime — is the unanimity [of] racist and anti-Semitic groups in their support for a mainstream, victorious candidate.”

For the most part, there has been massive yet peaceful pushback against Trump during his first 100 days in office — the women’s marches, the “Not My President’s Day” rallies and the tongue lashings that some Republican members of Congress have recently undergone at town halls back in their districts. What concerns Levin is the prospect of the extralegal activity of the extreme left finding a larger audience in the wake of the punishing defeat of a centrist Democrat at the polls, and an electoral process that made the likes of former Breitbart executive chair Steve Bannon arguably the most influential shaper of America’s public policy. “The situation now gives license for the fringes on the left to say, ‘Resistance must include violence,’” Levin says.

By Any Means Necessary, for example, is a Bay Area group whose program of protecting immigrant rights and affirmative action has included attacking neo-Nazis on college campuses. While the group garners less than 1,900 followers on its Twitter feed, one of its chief organizers did manage to get its message out on Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox.

Levin’s organization has tracked others. “We’re seeing the violence by far leftists against people they regard as Nazis — whether it’s Richard Spencer [the white nationalist punched in the face by a masked assailant on Trump’s inauguration day], or the Traditional Workers Party or the Klan.” Yiannopoulos’ planned address at the University of California, Berkeley was shut down when rioters smashed windows and set fires.

Although Levin’s center has monitored hate crimes across the country, he contends that the media’s recent focus on violent acts by extremists is masking a shift in the mainstream national discourse that is equally troubling. “What we’re seeing now is a coarsening of society that encompasses both [verbal violence] and bigotry, aside from criminal acts,” he says. “We have so much more intergroup conflict, involving so many different variables — not only traditional bigotry, but also those relating to class education, and employment.”

The rise in incivility can be seen in recent letters to the editor justifying the harsh treatment of today’s undocumented immigrants and of Japanese-Americans interred during World War II, in the verbal pipe bombs hurled across college campuses from the left and the right, in the threatening letters sent to synagogues and mosques, in the ease with which some Americans will mock women in burqas or tar all Muslims with the same broad brush.

“We’re at the place now where legitimate policy debates are turning into something more nefarious, more bigoted and more insular,” Levin says. “A place where hate crime might be as much of the symptom as the cause.”

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The Golden State of Hate

The Golden State of Hate: “We Have a New President, Faggot!”

The hate-crime reports began filtering in on election night at the Southern California offices of the Counsel of American-Islamic Relations. CAIR’s civil rights monitors received their first call within hours of Donald Trump’s victory.

Bill Raden

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The reports began filtering in on election night.

At the Southern California offices of the Counsel of American-Islamic Relations, CAIR’s civil rights monitors received their first call within hours of Donald Trump’s victory. A Muslim woman wearing the traditional hijab headscarf reported being refused service at a gas station by an attendant who allegedly announced, “I don’t need to serve you anymore. We’re trying to make America great again.”

And a widely shared Facebook post from friends of a Calgary film producer showed a graphic photo of the man, who was bloodied outside a Santa Monica bar, allegedly for being gay, immediately after watching election returns with a date as raucous patrons shouted to the pair, “We have a new president, faggot!”

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The new president’s rhetoric has been implicated in a flurry of incidents throughout the state, dating back to June of 2015, when he first announced his White House bid amid a blare of anti-Mexican and anti-Muslim vitriol, a tone maintained throughout a campaign that, according to CAIR, effectively mainstreamed Islamophobia in the U.S.

Balmeet Singh is neither a Muslim nor an immigrant, but a member of Bakersfield’s large Sikh community and sports the full beard and distinctive turban that is mandatory dress for religiously observant Sikh men. He was born in Ohio to South Asian parents and moved with his family to Kern County as a child. During the final stretch of the election campaign, the 31-year-old Bakersfield realtor got a first-hand taste of the fear and public humiliation that an increasing number of Californians are experiencing in the age of Trump.

On the evening of September 30, 2016, Singh was having dinner at a Habit Burger restaurant in a West Park commercial strip mall when he stepped out to a patio dining area to take a phone call from his cousin.

“He turned 14 that day,” Singh recalled in a phone call to Capital & Main. “And so here I am, wishing him a happy birthday, having a long conversation with him, when out of the corner of my eye [I saw] a Caucasian man approach and he started yelling at me, telling me that I was a terrorist, that I was going to blow up the country.”

Confused, Singh said he stared uncomprehendingly as the bearded and tattooed man repeated the words, adding, “I should fucking kill you right now.” Instead, said Singh, the man threw his drink at him, soaking Singh’s turban and clothes as nearby diners watched.

“I felt the adrenaline rush, the fight or flight,” Singh remembered. “I actually told him that I would call the police, and I stepped towards him … and had actually dialed 911, and I think that’s why he walked away.”

Fortunately, the cup contained nothing more lethal than a cold beverage, and Singh was able to give the police a description of the assailant along with his vehicle make and license plate number. But it was little consolation, given the shock of what had just happened. Most painful, he said, is the memory of what didn’t happen.

“They just sat there,” Singh said incredulously of the other diners. “I don’t know if this was the bystander effect or what, but none of them said or did anything. … That was painful because my cousins were inside the Habit Burger, so I had to walk inside afterwards past all of these people who had just seen what happened. They are talking and laughing and having a good time, and here I am, dripping this liquid and in shock.”

A December report by the Southern Poverty Law Center had California leading the nation in post-election hate incidents, tallying 125 for the state in the month following November 8. The center also recorded a dramatic surge in the number of U.S. anti-Muslim hate groups, which nearly tripled in 2016 over its tally for 2015 — a year that itself saw a 67 percent jump in hate crimes against Muslims across the country.

A CAIR spokesperson told Capital & Main that November and December alone saw reports coming into its office of anti-Muslim incidents in Los Angeles and Orange County roughly triple that of pre-election monthly averages.

Some of those 2016 California incidents include:

  • A fire that was set to the Islamic Society of the Coachella Valley in December of 2015, for which a Palm Desert man is serving a six-year sentence for perpetrating a hate crime. The incident may have been prompted in response to the mass shooting in San Bernardino that had occurred earlier that month, and which was denounced by Donald Trump.
  • The November murder of Will Sims, a young African-American jazz musician from Oakland, who was shot to death by three white men outside a pool hall in El Sobrante, Contra Costa County, just days after the election, in what police concluded was a hate-related killing.
  • November letters sent to multiple California mosques threatening genocide against Muslims — while praising Donald Trump.
  • In December, after a Muslim worshiper was stabbed in a parking lot adjacent to a Simi Valley mosque following Saturday prayers, two Simi Valley men were arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats and committing a hate crime.
  • More recently, a 30-year-old Davis woman was charged in the January hate-crime vandalism of a mosque in which security cameras captured her smashing windows, vandalizing bicycles and draping bacon — a proscribed food in Islam — on an exterior door handle.

The true numbers are likely higher. According to CAIR, because of the climate of fear surrounding the administration’s ramped up deportations and Trump’s executive order barring refugees and entry by citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, those most vulnerable to hate violence also tend to be reticent when it comes to reporting incidents to police or speaking to the media.

The man who targeted Balmeet Singh turned out to be 40-year-old David Hook of Bakersfield, who later claimed that he had heard Singh “say something about a bomb” during the cell call and confronted him about it. Hook insisted he had a constitutional right to take direct action against Singh, believing that “If you see something, say something.” The Kern County District Attorney’s office, however, was unconvinced and charged Hook with two hate crime misdemeanors, including one count of interference with the exercise of a civil right and one count of battery. (Attempts to reach Hook for comment were unsuccessful.)

For his part, Singh, who formerly taught special education, thought there was a learning opportunity to be had. Since 9/11, he noted, the country’s Sikh community has increasingly found itself at risk in similarly mistaken and sometimes far more tragic hate attacks. And so Singh arranged with the DA’s office for a 15-minute face-to-face with his attacker, believing that the dialogue and perspective could result in something positive. But Hook was not open to persuasion.

“There was no remorse,” Singh admitted. “He basically told me that he didn’t want to see me again and that he was a military veteran. He said, ‘I have served the country, what have you done?’ He was just yelling this stuff over and over.”

On the positive side, Singh was inundated with hopeful messages on social media, and Bakersfield residents stepped forward with an outpouring of support, including an anonymous delivery of flowers to his realty office with a card that read, “Just remember: Bakersfield is better than this. We’re not all like that.”

Still, the experience has been sobering. Recalling his father, who came to the U.S. in the 1980s with $200 in his pocket, a medical degree and a desire to have a better life than the one he left behind in India, Singh reflected on the rising levels of fear, mistrust and misunderstanding that he fears have tarnished the American dream.

“Maybe I am a little naive in thinking that every story has a happy ending or thinking that people will change,” he said. “I see what’s happening here and [my father] talks about how America is different from the America that he remembers in the ’80s when he came. It seems that this hatred was maybe not as open — at least on a public level — by politicians and by leaders. It does affect everyone. I was speaking to a schoolteacher here, who said that in his school, kids were walking down the hallway chanting, ‘Build the wall, build the wall!’ These are the values that we are now instilling on our children.”

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The Golden State of Hate

Video: The Golden State of Hate

A continuing series on hate and extremism in California and the nation.

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