Doctor Howard J. Ehrlich has been having trouble with his eyes in recent years. He is blind in one eye and hindered by some nearsightedness in the other. Yet his house and his office are just about of the busiest places you are ever going to see. As a noted cookbook writer, a college professor, activist, and textbook author, he is difficult to interview because he wants you to get to the point of what is really bothering him. His credentials are as endless as his research studies.
Years ago, it was peace, nuclear war, and civil rights violations that inspired his writing. Today he has gotten to the underpinnings of what has really been bothering him all along. Our society, he says, is involved in a series of mindless acts often substantiated by the authorities and of the media. He researched 13 television stations and found that the race of most news broadcasters supports the opinion that certain racial groups cannot be trusted and subsequently do not have to be heeded when their concerns are brought to the attention of either the courts or the marketplace.
Howard Ehrlich, Ph.D. formulated The Prejudice Institute with state funds designated by Governor Hughes. The institute has a mission: 1) to promote a better understanding of the cause and effects of prejudice, intergroup conflict, and violence 2) to conduct research that will enhance understanding 3) to provide education through conferences, workshops, and training 4) to provide technical assistance to the community and its institutions 5) to serve the public and news media with information and materials about prejudice, conflict, and violence.
Doctor Ehrlich says that the civil rights laws are comprehensive; the laws on the books are not the problem. Hatred is says is a regular way of life in modern society. For example, a group of guys may assault a guy leaving a bar because he is gay or because they think he is gay. Their feeling that their own opinions should run this country is not a matter that they can question as a group experience. Of course, the more violence they engage in the more certain they are that their opinions are right.
Howard Ehrlich was born into a family that adhered to the Jewish religion. He says that beating up Jews was a normal part of life as early as elementary school in Brooklyn. He learned as a child what prejudice controlled and what the effects of the power of prejudice caused early in life.
He is particularly concerned about religious hate crimes now because he perceives a new wave of anti-Semitism building up in EU countries.
He has a list of areas where hate crimes are being left out of control by both mental health practitioners and the authorities. One, police and prosecutors are not trained to recognize hate crimes. They may charge a person with vandalism, but not realize that it took place because of hatred. Two, we think hatred is a strong emotional response whereas it may be manifested as cold and calculating. Intelligence for the sake of harm is often glorified in the media and nuclear family expectations. Three, while hatred does more psychological harm than random acts of violence, only a handful of crimes qualify as hate crimes under the law. Four, many prejudice motivated crimes are not reported; victims do not think authorities can or will do anything about their plight. Five, most of the hate crimes reported are committed by teenagers and white supremacy groups.
The Prejudice Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. It is supported by fees for consulting, workshop services, and small grants. They want those who donate to their organization to be aware that 90% of donations go to program activities.
Other members of the Prejudice Institute include Barbara E.K. Larcom, Ph.D., Patricia Webbink, Ph.D., Fred L. Pincus, Ph.D., and Daniel J. Schecter, PA-C, MA-C.
For more information visit www.prejudiceinstitute.org.