Remember how, in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, a number of voices in the chattering classes, in the highest of dudgeon, inveighed against a coming backlash against Muslim Americans, with a skyrocketing number of anti-Muslim hate crimes?
Well, that doesn’t seem to be the case:
Jews, lesbians, gay men and Caucasians, among others, are all more frequently the target of hate crimes, FBI records show. Reported anti-Muslim crimes have declined over recent years, though they still exceed what occurred prior to the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
Regardless, 2001 was the zenith or, looked at through the prism of our national shame, the nadir of the much-discussed anti-Muslim backlash in the United States. The following year, the number of anti-Islamic hate-crime incidents (overwhelmingly, nonviolent vandalism and nasty words) dropped to 155. In 2003, there were 149 such incidents. And the number has hovered around the mid-100s or lower ever since.
(Read the whole thing. Jonah asks a great question about the rush of some on the left to find intolerance in America.) Guess Americans just aren’t the vindictive, bitter people who cling to their antipathy to people who aren’t like them as a means, you know, to express their frustration.
Now, catch this anecdote (from the first article I quoted); it gets at the real problem with defining certain crimes hate crimes:
Lodi resident David Halla, for instance, was arrested Monday and charged with assaulting a 76-year-old charter bus passenger while en route from Modesto to Chukchansi Gold Resort-Casino. This could count as a hate crime, as witnesses say Halla was shouting racial epithets at the Spanish- speaking victim.
By itself, hate is not a crime.
What if someone targets someone else because they’re good-looking (or ugly), a popular kid in school (or the class geek), rich (or poor), well-dressed & groomed (or slovenly) and as per the above old (or young)? Is that crime any less deserving of being dubbed a “hate crime” than one against someone because of their membership in a state-identified approved class of “victim”?