The FBI seal. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Regarding the March 14 news article “FBI: Hate crimes in the U.S. rose in 2021 to their highest level”:

A hate crime is a crime motivated by the offender’s prejudice against the victim’s sex, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, language, physical appearance or nationality. It is against the law to commit a crime against another person because he or she belongs to a group you dislike.

The FBI reported that it has provided more than 300 training seminars for local law enforcement and held 1,800 “community outreach events” since 2020. I wonder what the training and the community events are. I suspect that they focus on how to detect, identify and report hate crimes. This, in my opinion, is like telling people that if a glass falls off a table and shatters, it probably is no longer useful as a drinking vessel.

Hate crimes are a function of ignorance, jealousy and fear. Unfortunately, these three things are often exacerbated on a national level (see comments by former president Donald Trump on Mexican people; see repression of Black studies in Florida) and a lack of attention by our religious and educational institutions. Ask how schools are discussing race, gender, sexual orientation, or physical and mental disabilities. Ask spiritual leaders how they are reinforcing tolerance. Ask children what they hear about other groups. Look in your community for groups that are working to resolve differences before they become excuses for criminal acts. Look to your local, state and federal government agencies for assistance and ideas to address these fears and jealousies and lack of understanding.

Timothy J. Johnson, Columbia

The writer is a retired senior conciliation specialist from the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service.