The Danger of Silence

Exposing Hate: Prejudice, Hatred, and Violence in Action by Michael Miller is written for young adults. I would, however, recommend it to any educator of children, teens, or college students who needs a brief introduction to the importance of teaching social justice within the school system. Exposing Hate is not an easy book to read. While it is not a particularly long book, it took me several days to read due to its disturbing content. Miller has done a significant amount of research into the various beliefs and actions of hate groups, particularly in the United States, and into the organizations that combat the spread of this hatred.

Exposing Hate begins with a historical introduction to hatred in the United States. Actually, it starts before the nation was founded. While we often mention religious freedom as being the reason that people originally came to what would become the United States, religious freedom never really existed here in the first place. Each time a new religious group arrived, they were persecuted, often violently. Of course, religion was only one of the ways in which people were divided in society. Miller also discusses how race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation were used to oppress groups throughout history.

Miller then introduces readers to some of the major hate groups active in the United States. He also describes how these hate groups are identified and monitored specifically highlighting the work of the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center in tracking and combating the actions of hate groups. As of October 2018, every state in the nation had at least one active hate group and the country as a whole had at least 954 hate groups or chapters of hate groups. Readers are introduced to what these groups believe as well as the different types of actions that they take.

Personally, I thought the chapter on why people join hate groups was one of the most interesting, disturbing, and ultimately hopeful chapters in the book. I have been told before that we shouldn’t teach tolerance or social justice in schools because it encourages children to notice differences that they wouldn’t otherwise have been aware of and is simply bringing up past issues that have already been resolved. While I wholeheartedly disagree with both of these points and would love to discuss why they are incorrect, Exposing Hate also explains that when we do not talk about our differences, we are doing exactly what hate groups want us to do. When we ignore the things that make us different, it allows organizations to target youth who are angry or lonely and convince them that their lives have been negatively affected by people who do not look, pray, or love like they do. While there are some hate groups that are made up of multiple generations of the same families, many are not. People who end up as members of hate groups are often not raised by hateful families or educated in hateful places. Instead, they are simply not exposed to different viewpoints or different kinds of people. When we don’t teach children about differences and how they are important and precious, we leave them open to the teachings of groups that see difference as dangerous and inferior.

The book ends with a chapter on how we can all resist hatred and make sure that it does not spread further in our society. We cannot combat hatred with silence and ignorance. Hate is a noun and a verb, but so is love.

Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards:

Exposing Hate could be used to cover almost any of the Social Justice Standards for students in grades 9-12.

Common Core State Standards:

RI.1- Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

RI.5- Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.

RI.6- Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness or beauty of the text.

Published by socialjusticeinchildrenslit

My name is Leah Cole and I was a teacher in Iowa for nine years. My passions for education, social justice, and children's literature led me to create this blog. Students are faced with issues of justice and fairness from the time they are very young. The Social Justice Standards developed by Teaching Tolerance help teachers to support the development of students who recognize and embrace their own identities while respecting and valuing those who are different. In this blog, I will attempt to identify and review books that support the social justice standards.

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