I hate “hate crimes” with a passion, and I hate “hate crimes legislation” almost as much. The notion of increased penalties for thoughts and motivations, while politically correct and unpopular to oppose, runs afoul of traditional American values. In free countries, we are punished for what we do, not for what we think or feel.
The simple fact is that it should make no difference who the victim of a crime is or even what the motivation of the criminal was. A first-year law student knows that, contrary to the television crime shows, motive is never an element of the crime nor do the police or prosecution have to ascertain a motive in order to arrest, indict or convict. Certainly, the motive is interesting, tells the sordid tale more fully, and may have an impact on sentencing; but for guilt or innocence, we should be judged by behavior that is objectively apparent and not by inner thoughts and emotions that are either murky, or, worse, imputed to the alleged criminal because of the motivations of the political class.
And, yes, I apply the same standard to Jews as to anyone else. People should be prosecuted for their criminal acts, whether the targets are Jews, Christians, whites, blacks, heterosexuals, homosexuals, nice people or bad people. If pushed, I can certainly see a distinction between attacks on houses of worship and other buildings; houses of worship are symbols of particular faiths, much as the president is the symbol of the nation. But beyond that one exception (of which I am not altogether convinced), people are not symbols – people are people, and should be treated as people and not as representatives of any particular class.
Someone who attacks X should be prosecuted and convicted the same as if he attacks Y, even if X and Y are representatives of two different ethnic groups, classes, lifestyles, races, religions, et al. Otherwise, the fabric of American life is undermined (as it has been) by class divisions, special treatment, favoritism under the law, and, most importantly, the insidious struggle to claim the mantle of victimhood and become a member of one of the favored classes. In that macabre competition, most whites (whether Christians or Jews or heterosexuals) need not apply; they simply don’t qualify. Crimes against –these days – blacks, homosexuals, women, and Muslims (to name just a few) have a greater importance, apparently, then crimes against me or you. That concept eradicates the fundamental principle of American life – equality before the law – by making some lives worth more than others and similar crimes heinous or neutral, depending on the identity of the victim.
Two recent cases prove the absurdity of the position. The Rutgers tragedy that resulted in the suicide of a young student filmed in a compromising position drew its intensity from the accusation that the roommate – the invader of the victim’s privacy – was motivated by bias and hatred towards the particular grouping to which the victim belonged. But the evidence of such motivation – indeed, any motivation greater than voyeurism, immaturity and nastiness – was slim. Apparently, the prosecution unearthed an email or two that had pejorative language, but that was offset by many other statements of either tolerance or indifference. No matter; the die was cast and the rights of the victim – a member of one of the favored classes – had to be avenged, not only his death but the “hatred” that caused it. That seems a thin reed on which to find bias or base prosecutions, because, undoubtedly, bias would have been alleged even if no such email or statement had ever been uncovered. There is simply a presumption of prejudice whenever a victim hails from one of the protected classes. And go prove that you are not prejudiced.
The more recent tragedy in Sanford, Florida is typical of this genre. An unarmed black teenager was killed by a Hispanic neighborhood watch officer who thought the teen looked suspicious, was acting suspiciously, and fit the profile of perpetrators of recent criminal activity in the neighborhood. The saddest aspect of this event, aside from the death, is what seems to be the obvious and disastrous misunderstanding that took place. The killer (who should have backed off) seemed to think that the victim was a potential criminal, while the black victim felt that he was being stalked by the Hispanic. Both felt endangered. It didn’t help when – and these facts are only emerging slowly and inconclusively – the two got into an altercation that left the Hispanic beaten and bloodied and the black man dead.
But for the tragedy and the enormous pain caused the family of the victim, the attempt to portray the killer as a “white” would amuse. The NY Times even called him a “white Hispanic,” a locution not ordinarily seen in the media, even though he looks like most Hispanics. But a Hispanic killing a black does not fit the narrative of “white racism” and so the facts had to be contorted to fit some acceptable narrative. Even with the publicity surrounding the case and the identity of the killer, the racial hucksters are still embracing the “hate crime” trope, because that is their stock in trade, that is how they rile up the troops, and that is how they hope to have the killer incarcerated despite his claims (not implausible) of self-defense.
There is something ludicrous, beyond the limits of farce, in seeing the Reverend (ordination at age 4) Al Sharpton beating the “hate crimes” drums in this case – the same Al Sharpton who orchestrated the Tawana Brawley hoax and publicly accused white prosecutor Steven Pagones of the crime (!) without a shred of evidence, was found liable for libel – and never paid a nickel, not being gainfully employed by American standards (allegedly, the damages were paid by friends, but poor Pagones had his life ruined). Naturally, Sharpton never apologized but in the peculiar double standard that is spawned by the mindset that engender “hate crimes” legislation, Sharpton is exempt from his despicable conduct and has become a public celebrity. These days, to mention Brawley, Pagones and the case itself just indicates racism on the part of the questioner. In effect, Sharpton is exempted from the consequences of his prior false accusation because of the fear that he will lodge new, false accusations.
Thus the nation is distracted from the disturbing reality that, for sure, played a key role in the Florida teen’s death – the suspicion with which he was held because of the disproportionate percentage of crimes committed by young blacks. It is something that a Sharpton would deny but responsible black leaders – mostly conservatives – recognize. Approximately 50% of the incarcerated murderers in the United States are black, and most of their victims are black. Black-on-black crime in America is an epidemic – 95% of murdered blacks are murdered by other blacks, less than 5% by others, including whites – but those murders go unremarked in the media. It is the rare exception – white-on-black crime – that garners attention, even producing the distortion of conflating whites and Hispanics. It is hard to recall any of the professional racial hucksters denouncing the black homicide rate in the black community, or the decimation of the black family, or the astonishing number of young blacks in America in prison or on probation. There is no money, white guilt, or publicity in that.
Similarly, one would be hard pressed to recall when a black-on-white assault was prosecuted as a “hate crime.” Many murders of Jews – Yankel Rosenbaum’s stands out – that were obviously bias attacks were not prosecuted as such. There should be equal justice before the law – no special victims and no prosecution by the thought police. Crimes against all should be prosecuted, period. Crimes. Not intentions or motivations. Every person’s blood is equally red and his life is equally precious.