Hatred all throughout Europe is becoming a fatal, daily constant. It appears in many faces – right-wing extremism, fascism, extreme nationalism, xenophobia, racism, roma-phobia, islamophobia, antisemitism – but it always brings the same poisonous consequences for communities and society at large. Hate not only leads towards violence, discrimination and exclusion, but it is a dangerous threat to democracy and peace as well.
All over Europe people are fighting hate in their communities and stand up to promote diversity and inclusion. We also want you to join this fight!
Based on the experiences the UNITED Network made in its long lasting struggle against hate and injustice, we developed a short guide that shall help you to take the right steps.
Please find below the 10 Steps to Wipe Out Hate.
It is incredible important to rise up, stand tall, speak out and get active against hate and violence, especially immediately after an incident. UNITED provides you with free campaign & educational material to make it easier for you to get active.
Use the UNITED Network (e.g. Address Book Against Racism or online-database with more than 4000 contacts European-wide) to find like-minded partners in your area. Let us know that you exist and what you are doing – be a part of the UNITED Network and help the movement grow stronger.
There is power in numbers – UNITED we are stronger!
If you are a victim, or if you know about hate incidents, report each one in detail and ask for help (make good use of the UNITED database to find the right contacts).
Activists are also victimised simply because they oppose violence, hate and injustice. Here again, showing solidarity and support is fundamentally important. That is why organising and connecting ourselves on all levels – local, regional, national and international – is essential; you need not fight alone in desperation.
In regions with weak civil society, solidarity on an inter-national scale is especially important for grassroots organisations. The UNITED Network facilitates your support in a way that vulnerable activists and grassroots – particular in countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Balkans – not only receive moral support, but foremost theoretical, practical and material help. Being part of a big grassroots network is an advantage to all participating groups, since the structures necessary for coordinated intervention and mobilisation are already in place. UNITED broaden and maintain these in a professional way.
A well-informed action or campaign is far more effective – so do your homework! Determine which group(s) or individual(s) are involved in incidences or hate campaigns, and research their symbols, agenda, contacts and affiliates. Be aware about your opponents and their strategy:
Where (school, youth club, disco etc.) and how (music, life-style etc.) does recruitment take place? Is the group involved in rallies, demonstrations, political discourse, violent actions etc.? By what means is their message spread (flyers, Internet, outdoor activities etc.)? Do they have affiliates (politicians and political parties, militant groups, sub-cultures etc.)? Why do people identify with such a group?
Don’t underestimate opponents by their number – just a handful of people – armed with computer, email and a website can have an immense impact and are capable of spreading their message widely. As there are networks of anti-fascists and anti-racists, there are neo-nazi and far-right networks.
Share your information with like-minded groups, but be aware about your own security – your opponents are also gathering intelligence. However, don’t become paranoid – that will only iso-late you and weaken your position, making you more vulnerable.
The regular international UNITED conferences provide a safe environment to exchange information on international level and learn new skills, strategies and good-practice.
If you want to create a winning alternative to express anger and frustration and channel people’s desire to do something, then non-violence is the only option. Your efforts should focus on drawing both people and media attention away from hate rallies and towards an alternative. There are many examples of far-right or hate rallies that flopped because entire communities decide to not participate and even refuse service to the rally-participants. The soul of non-violent action is in the organisation of alternative events that emphasise the strength in community and diversity, and potentially creates large ‘hate-free’ areas.
Always aim for a broad and big alliance – involve schools, clubs, public institutions (e.g. museums), local businesses (restaurants, bars, hotels, taxi etc.) and authorities – to create an event that provides people a safe, effective and inclusive environment. Examples are picnics, parades and festivals featuring food, music, games, workshops, exhibitions, information and entertainment.
Use the extensive documen-tation on good-practice that is provided on the UNITED web-site to get ideas and inspiration for action and alternatives.
You won’t be able to wipe out hate in your community if the mainstream community leaders (mayors, politicians, police chiefs, school principals, local clergy, main employers etc.) are not willing to take a stand against hate or, worse, are the instigators of it. Their support is necessary to tackle the root cause of violence and hate and to create sustainable alternatives.
Try to form good relationships with community leaders before incidents or actions happen (this might not always be possible, but if successful it improves your position tremendously). Inform and educate them about the topic, the causes and the effects on the community. Encourage leaders to publicly address the problems and demand a strong public statement from authorities, politicians and mayors. Lobby for support (material/financial and verbal) for your actions and use community leaders as tool to mobilise more people.
Join the UNITED campaigns and get your action, ideas and state-ment published Europe-wide. You can use the UNITED materials and campaign reports as valuable lobbying tools at a local level.
The best way to resist hate and violence is a respectful and united community. You will have to do persistent work over a longer period to create the right ground for it. The aim is to unify the community and to make them immune against the disease of hatred, fascism, racism, xenophobia etc.
However, before you will be able to really change mindsets, you will have to change the behavior of yourself and others. Your personal example will influence others and when more and more follow this ‘good example’, the more instrumental it becomes and deeper change will then reach into the community. Think twice before you do or say something: unlearn prejudices you might have about people different from you; don’t spread biased stories or jokes only because they are funny; make positive statements about others; be a critical mind towards one-sided arguments á la ‘we against them’.
It is important that you and your message are visible not only when an incidents happens, but on a regular basis. We strongly encourage you to organise regular activities that bring together the diverse members of your community. In this way they will get to know each other, lose their prejudices and build up intercultural understanding.
To amplify the impact of your activities you should consider taking part in the annual UNITED campaigns, where hundreds of actions all over Europe take place under one common slogan and at one common date.
Intolerance, prejudices and anti-democratic attitudes are learned. This usually happens already at a young age and educational institutions play a big role – in teaching bias, but also in teaching diversity awareness. Children are curious by nature about everything that is new and different and schools are in fact the ideal environment to let kids develop diversity awareness and intercultural understanding. At school, children and youth from diverse backgrounds are mixed together. Ideally, an environment is created that places everybody on equal status and facilitates beneficial interactions among the pupils.
Schools can be vital tools to promote diversity, inclusion and fairness, teach mediation and conflict resolution skills, train youngsters to look critically at stereotypes, dissolve prejudices and plant the seed for an active and participative civil society.
Since the kids from today will be the future of tomorrow, reveal how important it is to work with and at educational institutes of all levels – make them to your allies and cradle for a future without hate.
Change will start when you engage in change. However, first it is maybe helpful to critically evaluate your own attitude. Everybody grows up with prejudices and stereotypes. Everybody has their own limited idea and perception of the world, different cultures, other countries, nationalities and ethnicities. Luckily, we all possess the power to overcome our ignorance and fears, and to influence our friends, family, peers and community. Therefore it is necessary to free your mind from biased ballast and learn to value and enjoy diversity – no one is less than somebody else.
A good start to have a deeper look inside ourselves is to have a look at the language we use and the assumptions we make about others. You might like to ask yourself the following questions:
- How quickly I am with labeling people, e.g. as ‘illegals’, ‘migrants’, ‘violent’, ‘criminal’, ‘lazy’, ‘dishonest’, ‘stupid’ etc.?
- Do I tell jokes about ‘gays’, ‘Muslims’, ‘Jews’, ‘Roma’ etc.?
- On what information do I base my assumptions about others and where does this information come from?
- Do I know first hand information from people who belong to a minority group, who are victimised or who have a different cultural background or religion?
- Do I understand the socio-economic forces that prevent certain groups to come out of poverty, or do I simply think that those people are ‘lazy’, ‘stupid’ or ‘dishonest’.
- Do I have the courage to speak up against discrimination – in a public context, but also in the circle of friends?