Hate crimes have a major impact on society in general. They serve to isolate the groups that are the most common targets of hate crime perpetrators. Furthermore, hate crimes have also led to polarization between groups. This polarization, of course, only fans the flame of hatred. There are many examples throughout human history of hate crimes. The Holocaust during World War II, in which some 6 million Jews were put to death by the Nazis is an infamous case. A more recent example is the case of James Byrd, in Texas. Byrd was an African-American male dragged to death by a gang of white racists. Another infamous hate crime was the murder of Matthew Shepard, an openly gay college student, in Wyoming.
Even today, many hate groups proliferate. The most famous of these groups is the Ku Klux Klan. Another example of this type of hate group is the White Aryan Resistance. The problem of hate does not seem to be abating either. In the U.S. in 2009, there were 6,604 hate crimes covering almost 8,000 offenses. Almost half of these offenses were based on race bias, another 20 percent stemming from religious bias, just under 20 percent from sexual orientation bias. The greatest portion of the remainder were hate crimes based on ethnicity or nationality [source: FBI].
Given it's high statistical incidence, racism in particular puts an unwelcome dent in the harmonious functioning of society. It is defined by one dictionary as a baseless attitude of hostility. Over the centuries, this form of hatred has contributed to the institution of slavery and other heinous crimes against humanity. Despite its place in human history, however, studies seem to indicate that people are not genetically predisposed to hate based on another person's skin color. Rather, the genetic predisposition appears to be towards a general "us vs. them" territoriality and not towards a classification by race.
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