Monday, February 16, 2015

Hate Crimes in America and the GOP

Was the heinous attack and murder of the three Chapel Hill, North Carolina Muslim students a hate crime?  Was it terrorism?  From CBS News:


Muslim groups demand federal hate-crime probe of N.C. slayings

RALEIGH, North Carolina -- Muslim groups planned to take their demands for a federal hate-crime investigation of three young Muslims slain in North Carolina to the White House on Friday….

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, is charged with first-degree murder. Police say he shot 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat; his 21-year-old wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha; and her sister, 19-year-old Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha over a long-standing parking dispute in the condominium complex where he lived with the newlywed couple. But the families of the victims have said they were gunned down because of their religion.

"This has hate crime written all over it," the women's father, Mohammad Yousif Abu-Salha said….

Mohammad Yousif Abu-Salha reiterated to about 5,000 people attending a Thursday memorial service for the three victims that he wanted the FBI to investigate.

"Let's stand up and be honest and see what these three children were martyred about. It was not about a parking spot," Abu-Salah said during the memorial service at North Carolina State University, which all three victims had attended.

So was this vicious, lethal attack against these young people a hate crime?  The women wore hijabs, the traditional head scarf and identifier of Muslims and the anger and hatred Mr. Hicks demonstrated toward Mr. Abu-Salha intensified when the women moved in.  According to Wikipedia Hate Crimes are described as:

Hate Crimes:

In both crime and law, hate crime (also known as bias-motivated crime) is a usually violent, prejudice motivated crime that occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group.

Examples of such groups include but are not limited to: ethnicity, gender identity, language, nationality, physical appearance, religion, or sexual orientation. [1][2]

By those definitions the crime does appear to be a hate crime, so what is the difference when it comes to prosecuting a hate crime as opposed to other types of crimes?

A hate crime law is a law intended to deter bias-motivated violence. Hate crime laws are distinct from laws against hate speech in that hate crime laws enhance the penalties associated with conduct that is already criminal under other laws, while hate speech laws criminalize a category of speech.

It is not as though there is no precedent for prosecuting hate crimes; the law was used to prosecute hate groups that promote bias-motivated crimes, such as the Ku Klux Klan.  From Fox News:  


Ku Klux Klan Sued for $2.5 Million For Beating of Latin Teen
Published November 15, 2008 Associated Press

A white supremacist Ku Klux Klan group was ordered on Friday to pay $2.5 million in damages in a judgment that civil rights attorneys hope will bankrupt the chapter.

The Southern Poverty Law Center sued the nation's second-largest Klan outfit on behalf of a Latino teen severely beaten in 2006 by two Klan members. The Klansmen were convicted and served two years in prison.

A jury on Friday ordered Imperial Klans of America grand wizard Ron Edwards and two former lieutenants to pay 19-year-old Jordan Gruver $1.5 million for lost wages and medical expenses and Edwards to pay $1 million in punitive damages.

Morris Dees, the lead attorney for the center, said after the verdict he plans to seize Edwards' property in Dawson Springs that serves as Klan headquarters along with any other assets that can be found. It wasn't clear what the property is worth….

"It's all about the money. It's all about the money," said Morris Dees. "If you stop the money, you'll cut the organization off."

Morris Dees is right, to fight hate crimes or terrorism or any crime, you go after the money.  Money is mother’s milk for groups like the Klan, who support GOP candidates.  Back in 1992, the Klan had risen in Indiana to new highs.  From the New York Times:


How the Klan Captured Indiana

IN "The Dragon and the Cross: The Rise and Fall of the Ku Klux Klan in Middle America," Richard K. Tucker offers an instructive, narrowly focused look at a short, dark time in Indiana history: the 1920's, when the Klan held sway over state politics, with its leader aspiring to the United States Senate and even the White House….

David Curtis Stephenson (1891-1966), a sometime printer and salesman, sensed around 1921 that his greed and political ambition might be rewarded if he joined the newly revitalized Ku Klux Klan. Rising quickly, Stephenson was given control of the Klan in Indiana in 1922. He was also handed the right to organize in 20 other states.

Soon he was a millionaire; he received a share of new members' initiation fees and sold members, at a good profit, their white sheets and hoods

Stephenson also controlled a secret, autonomous society within the Indiana Klan, the Military Machine, which had a quarter-million members. And he had pervasive influence over the state government

In 1924, Mr. Tucker writes, the Klan captured the government of Indiana by helping to elect closet Klansmen or pro-Klan candidates to office on the municipal, county and state levels, including Gov. Ed Jackson, many members of the state legislature and all but one member of the state's Congressional delegation….

Yep, the new GOP same as the old GOP.  Is it Indiana in 1924 or is it Wisconsin 2015? 

Mr. Tucker, a freelance journalist who formerly worked for The Indianapolis News, has provided a good explanation of how and why the Klan enjoyed such popularity, no matter how briefly, in the early 1920's: hyper patriotism, religious bigotry, racism and nativism -- all of which have been part of our national character since the nation's founding -- swelled in the years after World War I.

Immigration, Red scares and Jazz Age profligacy fanned anxieties in small-town Middle America. Roman Catholics, Jews, blacks and foreigners were only the most obvious targets of the Klan's fear mongering; bootleggers and Charleston-dancing libertines were also the enemies of so-called real Americanism.

So what has the new GOP been up to with regard to hate crime laws?  From Town Hall:


Congress Should Not Pass But Repeal Hate Crimes Laws

The U.S. Senate is preparing to vote any day on S. 909, a "hate crimes" bill that would grant special preferred government status to a select few citizens based on the behaviorally driven, fluid and undefined concepts of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity," while expressly excluding other citizens….

When the House version of the bill, H.R. 1913, was being considered, Rep. Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican, and Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican, attempted to curtail its inherently discriminatory nature and make it more inclusive by offering an amendment to add other identifiable groups such as veterans, the elderly and the homeless. The bill's sponsors inexplicably shot them down without explanation.

Yes, the GOP doesn’t want to end hate crime laws, they want to make them better, cover more people, they are just so nice.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle - in Washington and around the country - should not only reject S. 909, but should also begin working toward repeal of all state and federal hate-crimes laws.

All violent crimes are "hate crimes." Ever known anyone cracked upside the head in love? There may have been a time when hate-crimes laws were temporarily necessary, but that time has come and gone. When the 1968 federal hate-crimes bill passed, there were multiple and verifiable cases of local prosecutors refusing to indict whites for violent crimes committed against blacks. This was the justification for the law at the time.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican, and Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican truly are representative of the new GOP, same as the old GOP.  The views they espouse on hate crimes are not new for the GOP, that view was reiterated by 2000 Presidential candidate George W. Bush.

If you recall, during one of the debates between Al Gore and George W. Bush, the subject of hate crimes came up surrounding the prosecution of the murderers of James Byrd.  From the Texas Observer:


Fifteen years ago, on a hot June night in the small East Texas city of Jasper, James Byrd Jr. left a party at a friend’s house and began the long walk to his home on the other side of town. Accustomed to catching rides with passing drivers, the 49-year-old African-American apparently didn’t hesitate when a pickup stopped and a white man he was acquainted with, Shawn Berry, offered to take him home.

Inside the truck were two other white men, Lawrence Brewer and John King, both of whom had ties to white supremacist groups in and out of prison. Byrd never made it home.

When the story of the abduction and murder of James Byrd Jr. hit the next day’s news, it was as if a bomb had exploded in the complacent consciousness of contemporary America. The details of the crime were almost too horrible to believe, but anyone familiar with the history of the American South could recognize the echoes of a not-so-distant past filled with arbitrary white-on-black brutality, mob justice, torture and lynchings.

Berry, Brewer and King had driven Byrd to a remote country road where they beat him and chained him to the back of the truck by his ankles. The men then dragged Byrd for three and a half miles. According to the autopsy report, Byrd was most likely conscious most of that time, right up to the moment his head was severed. Police found Byrd’s remains in 81 places along the road. By the end of the day after the crime, all three suspects were in custody.

What was candidate George W. Bush’s views on prosecuting the White Supremacist murder of James Byrd as a hate crime?  From On The Issues:

Ignored Byrd hate crime bill despite plea by Byrd’s family

The Gore campaign accused Bush of trying to deflect attention from his unwillingness to push for an enhanced 1999 hate crimes bill named for James Byrd that died in the State Senate. And Byrd’s daughter, Renee Mullins, who lobbied Bush in 1999 to help pass that bill, said in an interview today that the governor pointedly told her that he would not work to do so….

A Bush spokesman attributed the governor’s inaction on the Byrd bill in 1999 to several factors: It was not part of Bush’s own legislative package, and [strengthening penalties for one group] might weaken penalties under existing laws for [other groups which were not specified in the Byrd bill]. Advocates of the Byrd bill argued that the existing law was too vague.

Ah, yes.  The new GOP same as the old GOP.  And the GOP is busy rewriting history on the murder of the homosexual young man, Matthew Shepard who was murdered by white skinheads in Wyoming.  From The Guardian:


For 15 years, Matthew Shepard’s unspeakably brutal murder on a lonely prairie in Wyoming has been a byword for the very worst of American anti-gay bigotry and a rallying cry for a more tolerant, more inclusive society.

The 21-year-old University of Wyoming student was found trussed to a fence post, bleeding and half-frozen to death, in a rocky field on the outskirts of Laramie. He had been pistol-whipped so severely that his brain stem was crushed. His killers even removed his shoes, on the off-chance he broke free of his bonds and tried to run to safety.

Shepard’s death inspired the play The Laramie Project – later turned into a television movie – countless songs, a foundation devoted to his memory and a political lobbying effort that pressed for, and eventually obtained, a new federal hate crimes statute named after him.

Instead, Jimenez makes a persuasive case – based on interviews with the murderers, their former girlfriends, friends of Shepard’s, and police investigators – that Shepard was already acquainted with his killers, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. That acquaintance hardly casts Shepard in the best light.

All three of them, Jimenez argues, were involved in Laramie’s crystal meth subculture, as users and dealers. McKinney and Shepard may also have had a casual sexual relationship.

No hate crime here, move on.  And there was the 1999 case of the Los Angeles attack on a Jewish Community Center shooting.  From Wikipedia:


The 1999 Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooting occurred on August 10, 1999, at around 10:50 a.m. local time, when white supremacist Buford O. Furrow, Jr. walked into the lobby of the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills and opened fire with a semiautomatic weapon, firing 70 shots into the complex.

The gunfire wounded five people: three children, a teenage counselor, and an office worker. Shortly thereafter, Furrow murdered a mail carrier, fled the state, and finally surrendered to authorities.

On August 7, Furrow bought a used red Chevrolet van in Tacoma, Washington, and loaded it with five rifles, two pistols, 6,000 rounds of ammunition and a flak jacket. Furrow considered attacking three Jewish institutions: the Skirball Cultural Center, the American Jewish University and the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance, but security measures presented too much of a problem.[3][4]

Yes, hate crime laws have stuck in the craw of the GOP.  What was one of the first things George W. Bush did when he was installed as President by five GOP members of the Supreme Court?  Pack the bipartisan Civil Rights Commission with GOP members.  From


WASHINGTON - The US Commission on Civil Rights, the nation's 50-year-old watchdog for racism and discrimination, has become a critic of school desegregation efforts and affirmative action ever since the Bush administration used a controversial maneuver to put the agency under conservative control.

Democrats say the move to create a conservative majority on the eight-member panel violated the spirit of a law requiring that no more than half the commission be of one party. Critics say Bush in effect installed a fifth and sixth Republican on the panel in December 2004, after two commissioners, both Republicans when appointed, reregistered as independents.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat.  Oh the GOP is so into civil rights and gun ownership, except when those civil rights are extended to minorities of a certain age group.  So what’s the GOP’s big solution to terrorism?  

Excerpt from The Intercept:


Are you, your family or your community at risk of turning to violent extremism? That’s the premise behind a rating system devised by the National Counterterrorism Center, according to a document marked For Official Use Only and obtained by The Intercept.

The document–and the rating system–is part of a wider strategy for Countering Violent Extremism, which calls for local community and religious leaders to work together with law enforcement and other government agencies. 

The White House has made this approach a centerpiece of its response to terrorist attacks around the world and in the wake of the Paris attacks, announced plans to host an international summit on Countering Violent Extremism on February 18th….

Gee what could go wrong there?

“The idea that the federal government would encourage local police, teachers, medical and social service employees to rate the communities, individuals and families they serve for their potential to become terrorists is abhorrent on its face,” said Mike German, a former FBI agent who is now with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. German called the criteria used for the ratings “subjective and specious.”

Subjective and specious, why that’s the new/old GOP.  The questionnaire dovetails nicely with this legislation being pushed by ex-GOP current Independent Michael Bloomberg sounds a tad racist. From



Speaking to the Aspen Institute on February 6, Michael Bloomberg said cities should ban young minority males from owning guns, both as an effort to reduce crime and to keep those minority males “alive.”

Man that’s got GOP written all over it.  Hey what about the Second Amendment Rights??

According to The Aspen Times, Bloomberg addressed a variety of topics, and after commenting on poverty and education, he discussed guns. The Times reported that he said, “Cities need to get guns out of [the] … hands” of persons who are “male, minority, and between the ages of 15 and 25.”

He claimed that “95 percent of all murders fall into this category” and that taking guns away from them will not only reduce crime, but will “keep them alive.”

Bloomberg said male minorities from the ages of 15 to 25 do not have a good outlook on life and “think they’re going to get killed anyway because all their friends are getting killed.” He also said having a gun “is a joke” for them, that “it’s a joke to pull the trigger.”

Maybe anyone running for public office, especially in the GOP should have to fill out that questionnaire, because you could say that the attacks on Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Ukraine, Palestine, Gaza etc. could be considered hate crimes.   From Politicus USA:


Cheney Bush War Crimes Torture

A top international official is calling for the criminal prosecution of top members of the Bush administration for torture and other war crimes.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson called for prosecutions of former Bush administration officials at the highest levels,

It is now time to take action. The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes.

The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorised at a high level within the US Government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability.

International law prohibits the granting of immunities to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture. This applies not only to the actual perpetrators but also to those senior officials within the US Government who devised, planned and authorised these crimes.

Oh, dear.  But hate crimes committed by our government, especially the GOP will never be prosecuted in America, as long as hate is a daily staple of talk radio and TV cable shows. From Joe Conason of the Observer:

Rush’s Defenders Ignore His Venom
By Joe Conason | 12/02/02 12:00am

The legend of the liberal media is finally dead. When the mightiest voices of the mainstream gang up on Tom Daschle with Rush Limbaugh, who can believe in that old myth anymore?

The historic rumble started after the Senate Democratic leader compared the shrill radio host to foreign fanatics, and complained that he and his family receive threats when Mr. Limbaugh airs a diatribe against him.

“What happens when Rush Limbaugh attacks those of us in public life is that people aren’t satisfied just to listen, they want to act because they get emotionally invested,” Mr. Daschle said. “And so, you know, the threats to those of us in public life go up.”

After the discovery of anthrax in his office mail, Mr. Daschle deserves sympathy as well as the best possible protection..

Yet Mr. Limbaugh’s friends and fans in the mainstream media, from Fox News to NBC to The Washington Post, weren’t content to scold Mr. Daschle. They behaved as if Mr. Limbaugh is a paragon of respectability whose listeners would never, ever threaten anyone.

It isn’t so far-fetched, however, that a loony or two or a dozen among the millions who listen to Mr. Limbaugh every day might threaten Mr. Daschle. Why? Because of what Mr. Limbaugh has actually said about Mr. Daschle-and because a serious physical threat has already occurred at least once as a direct result of irresponsible broadcasts by Mr. Limbaugh and others.

On May 11, 1999, Hardball host Chris Matthews coaxed Kathleen Willey into naming Cody Shearer, a longtime Clinton friend, as the man who had allegedly used threats to silence her.

That this was a wholly false (and easily disproved) assertion didn’t matter to Mr. Limbaugh, who repeated the inflammatory slander the following day and even spelled out Mr. Shearer’s surname on the air. Several days later, Mr. Shearer started to receive death threats.

Then on a Sunday afternoon, Hank Buchanan, a brother of Pat and Bay, decided to visit Mr. Shearer’s Washington home. He broke into the garage, slashed the tires of two cars and threatened three other people with a handgun before fleeing.

Hank Buchanan was apprehended and sent to a mental institution…   And while that was the end of the matter, the assault by the deranged Buchanan showed that ugly broadcasts may have tragic consequences.

And don’t forget Bill O’Reilly’s attacks on Dr. Tiller the late term abortion physician that was assassinated in his church after O’Reilly repeatedly stoked up hatred for the doctor calling him Doctor Tiller the Baby Killer.

And protecting minorities by denying them the right to bear arms is only one GOP great idea to control black on black crime, don’t forget GOPer Bill Bennett’s solution to solve black crime.  From Media Matters:


Addressing a caller's suggestion that the "lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30 years" would be enough to preserve Social Security's solvency, radio host and former Reagan administration Secretary of Education Bill Bennett dismissed such "far-reaching, extensive extrapolations" by declaring that if "you wanted to reduce crime ... if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down."

Bennett conceded that aborting all African-American babies "would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do," then added again, "but the crime rate would go down."

The FBI must conduct an investigation into the murder of these remarkable young people in North Carolina as a hate crime.  From The Intercept:



The personalities that come through from the testimonies of friends and family, the record of the efforts and achievements of these young people, and the photographs that radiate such joy and life are all too familiar to miss.

Yusor, Deah and Razan — may they rest in peace — are like so many young American Muslims I know. These are hard-working, well-meaning, family-oriented people. Muslim communities around the country are full of Yusors, Deahs and Razans, and they are the ones who are out there, inspiring the older generation out of their despair at the state of the world by their actions.

These young American Muslims are the ones who think deeply about inequality at home and injustice abroad, and act on both. They are the ones who will volunteer to deliver food (or dental supplies) to the needy while organizing assistance for Syrian refugees abroad.

They are the people who are never searching for outside recognition for their efforts but who are acting out of their moral commitment to doing the right thing. They are the ones who take school very seriously, and their careers seriously, but who will always find time for others at the drop of a text….

What’s infuriating about the murder of the three young people in North Carolina is not only their tragic deaths, but also the speed by which the motive of the shooter has been labeled a “parking dispute” by the authorities and the press, as if that explains anything and as if a hate crime or a political crime could not also have a catalyzing event. The question is not whether this was either a hate crime or parking rage. It can be both.

When it comes to hate crimes in America and the GOP it seems there isn’t a whole lot of daylight.  The GOP is always throwing some faux allegations of a war on Christmas, a war on white people, black on black crime, when will they see hate crimes for what they are.  The systematic incitement of hatred against people who look different from them. 

By Patricia Baeten

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