It may seem like a long way away but fear and hatred are dangerously contagious and must be stopped.

By Tom Jamison

Hate crime seems to be exploding in every part of the world at the moment. Countries as close to home as France and Germany as well as the USA have been stunned by violent episodes and it has only been a matter of weeks since Jo Cox was murdered on a British street in broad daylight.

This latest tragedy in Japan has similarities to the other attacks in that it appears to have been unprovoked and undertaken by a lone individual. The striking distinction is that where others have been political, an attack on a care home for disabled people is surely a different type of hate. Of course it is no more or less abhorrent but because of its differences perhaps it helps us to identify that there may be underlying denominators that are common to all of these incidents.

Fear and loathing have always gone hand-in-hand. Clearly in this case, suspect, Satoshi Uematsu already had links with the care home and had developed a hatred, apparently telling police as he handed himself in that “It is better that disabled people disappear.”

Whilst Uematsu’s statement is perverted, we need to understand that somewhere in the minds of murderers sentiments like this make perfect sense. We need to further understand how such dreadful conclusions are arrived at.

The answers to stopping extremism and violence aren’t within my grasp but I would venture that the tension surrounding some of the big topics needs to change. Race and immigration are both inflammatory matters and I fear that the kind of sensational and often misleading animosity during debates will become a fixture of all political and social dialogue – which can surely be pointed at as a factor behind the violence.

We’ve already seen how the discourse during Brexit has led to an increase in hate crime against immigrants. If the points of this debate can be misunderstood and sensationalised what stops the next debate on the rights of other groups within our diverse community being affected in the same way? What if the next controversial debate happens to be connected to the rights of disabled people?

We need to argue persuasively and with vigour without bringing blame or fear into the arena. We all need to remember that fear fuels hatred whilst feeling fuels freedom.