Chilling War on "Hate Crimes"
Republican-dominated Senate's passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention
Act was entirely to be expected. Politicians salivate at the prospect
of increasing the powers of government, arming prosecutors, and
throwing yet more people in prison. Hate crimes, Bill Clinton explained,
as always mouthing the cliches of the hour, "are not like other
crimes because these crimes target people simply because of who
they are, and because they strike at the heart of who we are as
a nation." Whenever one of these crimes is committed, it creates
a tension and a fear that rips at the fabric of community life."
your crime is motivated by antipathy towards gender, sexual orientation
or disabilities then it's a "hate crime" and the federal government
will come after you. If, on the other hand, it's motivated by contempt
for the overweight, the short, or those with a funny accent you
can breathe easy. You only have the state courts to worry about.
Homosexuals are more important to the "fabric of community life"
than the obese.
is a nice contribution to the protection of civil liberties. Washington
wants to make double jeopardy the law of the land. If the state
courts acquit you, the federal government can step in and try you
again. Likewise, if a state judge hands down a sentence that some
Janet Reno-like nitwit in the US Attorney's office thinks is too
lenient. In hate crimes motive is all-important. So now, in order
to prove that a crime was particularly dastardly, the police will
be empowered to rummage around among your things to find out what
books you read, what magazines you subscribe to, what music you
listen to, what web sites you visit, who your friends are, what
kind of jokes you like.
the meantime, the various busybodies who devote their energies to
pleading for more Government repression go about drawing up ever
expanding lists of "hate groups" and "hate sites" that are so dangerous
to our "community life." A recent conference in Berlin on hate speech
and the Internet, co-sponsored by the German government and the
Simon WiesenthalCenter, demonstrated where this obsession with "hate
crimes" is leading us. German Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin
urged a crackdown on hate speech. "What is forbidden offline, must
be forbidden online," she declared chillingly.
companies must make sure they do not sell extremist books or music.
And service providers must block web sites that promote hatred.
German President Johannes Rau declared that, "We need a framework
that sets boundaries for the use of modern information technology.
We cannot just stand by and watch while opponents of human rights
and those contemptuous of democracy exploit these new technological
possibilities." Rabbi Abraham Cooper, of the Wiesenthal Center purred
with approval. There were 2000 hate sites on the Internet, he claimed.
"We turned to Germany to wake up American-based companies to the
fact they had captured the nichemarket in hate," Cooper said. Americans
are a little slow in adopting German authoritarian habits. There's
one would have though that a United States with a prison population
of 2 million, and that executes people at a nice steady clip, is
scarcely crying for more prosecutors and extra jail time. Moreover,
many states already have hate crimes laws on their books. James
Byrd's killers in Texas were sentenced to death. Matthew Shepard's
killers got life without parole, and onlyavoided the death sentence
through a deal with the victim's parents. "Hate crimes are terrorist
acts. They are modern-day lynchings that can easily terrorize whole
communities," Teddy Kennedy blusters hysterically.
the "hate crimes" industry is based on total fraud. The FBI cooks
the statistics. Yet even so, the "hate crimes" total is ridiculously
paltry. Here is how the FBI manipulation works. If a Mexican-American
commits a "hate crime" against a black, that counts as a "hate crime"
perpetrated by a white on a black. If, on the other hand, an Italian-American
commits a "hate crime" against a Mexican-American, then that counts
as a "hate crime" committed by white on a Hispanic. In both cases,
the crimes count in the white "hate crimes" ledger. If you are Jewish
and commit a "hate crime" against someone from Puerto Rico, that
also counts as a white "hate crime" perpetrated on a Hispanic. If,
on the other hand, the Puerto Rican turns around and commits a "hate
crime" against a Jew, then that counts as a white anti-Jewish "hate
crime."Again, both crimes count as white "hate crimes."
In other words, the FBI grossly overstates the "hate crimes" numbers
perpetrated by whites.
even this dishonesty cannot conceal the absurdity of all the hyperbole
about "hate crimes." According to the Justice Department, in 1998
5,295,480 whites and 854,450 blacks were victims of violence. 14
percent of the white victims were attacked by black assailants.
And 16.1 percent of the black victims were attacked by white assailants.
This means that there were around 137, 500 cases of blacks being
victimized by whites-approximately 2.2 percent of the total number
of violent assaults for that year. And there were around 741, 360
cases of whites being victimized by blacks-approximately 12 percent
of the total. But according to the FBI, the total number of incidents
that could be counted as "hate crimes" that year was 7,755. Of these,
2,901 were anti-black crimes, 792 anti-white crimes, 1081 anti-Jewish
crimes, 482 anti-Hispanic crimes, and 1260 that were based on sexual
it turns out, that no less than 38 percent of these "hate crimes"
amounted to "intimidation." Simple assault accounted for a
further 18 percent. The grand total of murders or negligent manslaughter
was 13. Intimidation is, of course, a very vague term. People can
be intimidated by an insult, an ugly stare, a reluctance to say
"Good morning," or the expression of an opinion they disagree with.
Yet with all the larding of the statistics, it turns out that blacks
still commit a disproportionate number of "hate crimes." According
to the FBI, 66 percent of the offenders were white and 17 percent
black. "Hate crimes," like "hate speech" epitomize the Clinton era-an
era of meaningless symbolism and nasty authoritarianism.
George Szamuely is a columnist for the New
York Press and Antiwar.com.