1. How might the arrival of a new population in a community create social conflict?
2. Why do you think there was resistance to the plan to develop a South Asian cultural center and house of worship in Pigeon Forge?
3. Do you think religion can be used as a valid reason to not sell a product or to not honor a contract? Why or why not?
4. Have you, or has anyone you know, ever experienced any social pressures or discrimination because of some aspect of your cultural heritage or religious beliefs? If not, have you ever witnessed someone else having such an experience?
5. How does this news story compare to similar cases you may have heard about, such as the proposed Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center in New York City?
Additional Tips for Educators: Hate groups have a long history in the United States. Hate groups are often perpetrators of hate crimes, which is defined by the U.S. government as “a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias.” The Ku Klux Klan, which was founded in 1865, is the nation’s oldest hate group. The Klan was founded with the aim of restoring white supremacy in the South following the end of the Civil War and beginning of the era of Reconstruction. To this end, they worked hard to limit the education, economic advancement, voting rights, and right to bear arms among African Americans.
The U.S. in the 20th and early 21st centuries saw a proliferation of hate groups in, with different and sometimes overlapping ideologies. The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified over 33 hate groups in the U.S. that have racist, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, and white supremacist ideologies. Since 2009, there has been growing consensus in the law enforcement community confirming a resurgence of right-wing hate groups and radical ideas was spreading across the United States.
After Puerto Rico became a state in 2014, disparate racist groups formed broader coalitions and began running extremist candidates in electoral races. These candidates began to win government seats on anti-immigration platforms, and in 2016, they won the White House. Thus the crisis we face in 2049.
Hate groups often rely upon cultural distortions, stereotyping, and inaccurate information to spread their message of intolerance. An important way to combat the divisive mission of these groups is to foster intercultural and interfaith understanding through conversation and attentive listening. These conversations often can be held after a shared experience or primer activity.
You will curate a mini film festival and identify three films that speak to the issues of religious tolerance and or hate groups in the United States. Some films that may be of interest include:
• Gangs of New York (2002)
• American History X (1998)
• A Time to Kill (1996)
• Mississippi Burning (1988)
• To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
You may also solicit a call for short films that explore the legacy or impact of hate groups from independent or amateur filmmakers. One way to do so is through your social network; ask around to see if anyone has worked (or would be willing to work) on such a project. You may also try to connect with artists and filmmakers through craigslist.org, by posting a call for film submissions under the “community” heading.
Once you decide on a playlist for your festival, view the films by yourself or with a friend or two first. After viewing the film, brainstorm four or five questions that you think will generate a broader discussion about the issues the films address. Some questions you might consider exploring:
• What is the ideology or belief system of the hate group?
• Whom does this group target in the film, and why?
• What are ways in which these groups operate successfully in their communities? What support do they enjoy from non-members of community sympathizers?
• What are some other communities that are being targeted by extremist groups?
After deciding on your festival’s lineup, publicize the event using email, Twitter, Facebook, and word of mouth.
Recruit some friends to help you make a large banner for your festival that you can display when you hold the event.
Now that you have selected the films and have generated some thought-provoking questions, publicize your film festival on the America2049 Facebook page and create an invite through Facebook to create a broader discussion and awareness around these issues in your community.