Not all hate crimes are created equal.
This pertains even to those hate crimes created out of whole cloth, which receive a privileged status when furthering the perceived aims of the underprivileged. The ideological commitment to the idea of systemic inequality nudges popular media to popularize hate crimes, no matter how specious, that propel this narrative while downplaying ones that undermine it.
In Obama’s hometown, cops this week arrested four African-Americans accused of torturing a special needs, white student for a period up to 48 hours. On an antisocial video posted to social media, the assailants shout “F— white people!” and “F— Donald Trump!” as they cut the bound and gagged victim’s hair with a knife. They forced him to drink from a toilet and to denounce Trump and whites.
If only this occurred at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay and not Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago, then the victim might enjoy more full-throated support. As it stands, many journalists who normally salivate over torture or hate-crime stories claim their right to remain silent here.
CNN’s main article on matter on their site early Thursday afternoon focused on rebutting the notion that Black Lives Matter played a role in the event. The network’s Don Lemon, perhaps still not thinking clearly since his on-air New Year’s Eve adventure, acknowledged the inhumanity of the prolonged attack but rejected a characterization of it as evil. “I don’t think it’s evil,” he said. “I think these are young people and I think they have bad home training.”
If four whites tortured an African-American special needs student in the Trump Tower while demanding he denounce Barack Obama, would Don Lemmon denounce that event as the product of “bad home training”?
In the approach to the 2016 election, prophecies abounded about increasing hate crimes against Muslims and people of color should Trump win. He did, and on cue, several victims from central casting assumed their roles.
Yasmin Seweid, a beautiful 18-year-old Muslim, spun a tale of a trio of Trump supporters hassling her on a Manhattan train as passengers looked the other way. “Three white racists ripped the straps off my bag & attempted to yank my hijab off my head,” she wrote on Facebook. “They yelled such disgusting slurs at me, I was so helpless and felt defenseless.”
Though nobody attempted to rip off her hijab, somebody shaved her head, when police revealed she invented the ruse to escape punishment for violating curfew with a Christian boy.
The Daily Beast responded to an arson at a Mississippi church spray-painted “Vote Trump” with the headline: “A Burned Down Black Church Shows President Trump Wouldn’t Condemn His Own Terrorists.” It turns out, a black parishioner torched the church.
They fit the narrative even if their “facts” clashed with reality. So, the Fourth Estate fell over itself in reporting on the pseudoevents and what they meant for “Trump’s America.” Chicago’s shocking torture didn’t, so they turned their backs like those nonexistent Bad Samaritans on Yasmin Seweid’s train.
The revolting episode in Chicago undermines the whole notion of hate crimes in a manner more consequential than the obvious double standards. Binding, beating, and berating a special needs youngster strikes normal people as terribly horrific. Does tagging it with the word “hate” make it any more of a hateful crime? In most instances, “hate crime” comes across as a terrible redundancy. Crimes of a violent nature generally involve some degree of hatred, and the Chicago police department’s initial hedging on “whether or not this is sincere or stupid ranting and raving” demonstrates the degree to which the legal system must delve into the thoughts of perpetrators — not always an easy task — to determine if the charges pass muster with the law.
Perhaps worst of all, hate crimes stoke the hate they seek to extinguish. By pitting whites vs. blacks or vice versa, the often arbitrary classification inflames racial recriminations. This occurs both when the legal system refuses to classify hate-filled crimes as hate crimes and when they do so. Four individuals, not an entire race, tortured this unfortunate kid in Chicago.
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