Here's my response to "Gooks" Assaulted with BBs, Urine, Melvin Martin's latest essay on racism against Indians:
I'm not sure any research has linked hate crimes to stereotypes, so I'll do it myself. This is what happens when you portray Indians as primitives, savages, or beasts. You create the impression that Indians aren't modern-day people, full-fledged Americans, with equal rights. They become exotic "others"--visitors from another time and place who don't belong here. Then we start thinking of them as strangers who are taking "our" jobs and money and women. This makes them "legitimate" targets for our hate.
From the black, Latino, and Asian insults directed at Martin, we can see this problem isn't limited to Indians. It's a problem for anyone who isn't a WASP like me. According to our founding myth, America belongs to the white male Christians who came over on the Mayflower with Columbus and the Founding Fathers. They're the ones who carved this country out of the wilderness and made it great. Everyone else is a non-American who doesn't look like "us" and doesn't belong here. They should all go back where they came from.
Note: How stupid is it to call an Indian a "wetback"--i.e., an immigrant who crossed a river to get to America? Pretty damn stupid. The point of this insult is obvious: to categorize Indians as a lesser form of human with lesser rights.
Most people who perpetuate stereotypes don't resort to hate crimes. But they're contributing to a climate where hate crimes become possible. At tribal casinos, Indians are called rich and greedy and cheaters with "special rights." In Carpinteria, white people are saying their "warrior" stereotypes are right and real Indians are wrong. In the Chicago area, someone has damaged a sign that points out the existence of real Indians. On the screen, tanned Anglos play Indians while real Indians are invisible.
To sum it up, yesterday's Indians were savages, drunks, bums, and losers. Today's Indians no longer exist. Therefore, anyone who claims to be an Indian must be a savage, drunk, bum, or loser. He deserves what he gets.
Why do so many people refuse to see Indians the way they are today? Why do some of them respond to stereotypes with hate? I say it's because today's Indians won't sit down and shut up. Because they won't fade away like they were supposed to. Because they keep demanding that we obey the Constitution and uphold the rule of law. Because they keep reminding us of our mistakes and flaws--e.g., our propensity to shoot first and ask questions later. Because they suggest that America belongs to everyone, not just to the white Christians who (think they) founded it.
As I said, I can't prove the linkage between stereotypes and hate crimes. But I'm pretty sure there's a straight-line connection. Ask the people who commit hate crimes what they think of Indians. They'll probably respond with stereotypes. Ask them why these stereotypes triggered their hate. They'll probably say something stupid like "Savages/drunks/bums/losers don't deserve to live." Which means their stereotypical thinking is driving their hateful actions.
For more of Martin's thoughts on the subject, see Racists Lack Self-Esteem.
Below: Beating up a devilish Indian is like beating up a mugger or a mad dog. It doesn't qualify as a human rights violation or a crime.
"I'll get you if you don't get me first, white eyes! Ha ha ha ha ha!"