February 9, 2006
When Hatred Burns UnseenBy Selwyn Duke
When is a hate—crime not a hate—crime? Answer: when the powers—that—be say it isn't.
One problem with hate—crime laws is that they're more the result of bad ideology than good criminology, and nothing illustrates this point better than the current spate of church burnings in Alabama.
As you may know, five churches were burned in rapid succession late last week, followed by four more overnight Monday/Tuesday. Yet, while I had encountered much reportage on this story prior to writing this piece, I had yet to hear any government official or media figure hazard the guess that these acts could constitute a hate—crime. So I did a Google news search.
I entered the terms 'church fires' and 'hate crime' and, lo and behold, a search engine capable of plumbing the very depths of the Internet found a staggering twenty—two results (as of 2/7). More significantly, all the articles cited only one or the other of a mere two sources that mentioned hate—crime in relation to this arson—targeting of churches.
Twenty—one of the articles mentioned an FBI agent, Charles Regan, who said,
Now, I realize that this was more likely just a manner of speaking than a Freudian Slip, but it seems to me that, when the crime involves a favored group, the powers—that—be look to make sure that it is a hate—crime. And with great zeal too, I might add.
Truly ridiculous, though, was the statement by the director of the Intelligence Project (it monitors what it deems hate groups) of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Mark Potok. Now, for those of you not acquainted with the SPLC, I'll point out that it's a leftist 'civil rights' organization headed up by Morris Dees, a man who, after having sued certain white supremacists into oblivion, finds purpose and fund raising success by casting about for clandestine Klansmen among conservatives. It is in this context that you should view the comments of his underling Potok, who said,
No one mentioned whether or not he managed this proclamation with a straight face.
Really, though, when I imagine someone making such a statement, I envision a man rapidly blinking his eyes with a visage of feigned credulity, saying, 'Oh—no! Gomer, I see no evidence of a hate—crime!'
No, we're not in Kansas anymore. Don't pay any attention to that bigot behind the curtain!
Now, back to reality. Nine Baptist churches, with both black and white congregations, have been burned in a relatively small geographical area within a very narrow time—frame. Okay, the fact that they are all Baptist may not necessarily be significant since it's the dominant denomination in that area. In other words, it would not require too great a statistical fluke to target nine churches in these counties and happen upon only Baptist ones. Although it should give one pause for thought.
However, to the best of my knowledge, even in the Bible Belt, churches constitute only a very small percentage of the buildings. I suspect that Alabamans have also built schools, stores of various kinds, municipal buildings, residences, offices, barns, warehouses, restaurants and lots of other types of structures. Thus, while I'm no mathematician, I think there are pretty long odds against randomly targeting nine buildings and happening upon only churches. If Morris Dees and company can't grasp this, they surely didn't amass their organization's $120 million fortune through wagering. Save incense and decorative candles, you don't burn things you like. This was a hateful act. So, SPLC, don't pour gasoline down my back and tell me it's rainin'.
Next, could you imagine the reaction if nine synagogues or mosques had been thus burned? The monolithic mainstream media would elevate the story to prominence and exhaust themselves pontificating about how dreadful these hate—crimes were. And the posturing by public officials, oh, the posturing, it would be intense enough to induce backache.
As for this story, there's nothing for the media to glom on to. If only black churches were in the crosshairs, there would be the white bigotry angle. The media can't get enough of that. But the fact that they're all Christian? Please! Such concerns aren't in their programming... in either sense of the word.
While many officials only have the best of intentions when prosecuting hate—crimes, they are frailty—ridden creatures of their age like everyone else. And hate—crime laws add another subjective element to the assessment of criminality.
Put differently, people judge things based on their conditioning, and their biases come into play when assessing biases. If a group that has been assigned 'hated victim' status is targeted, there's usually an assumption that hate had to have been a motive. If a group that has been assigned 'hater status' is targeted, however, the assumption is usually that it is not. And even most conscientious officials, pundits and newsmen always seem to be decades behind the times. While they see a white hood or swastika around every corner, the wave of antipathy toward Christianity seems to escape their notice.
This, despite the vigorous attacks on Christmas that secular fundamentalists have made an annual ritual. This, despite the palpable anti—Christian bias that pervades academia, Hollywood and the rest of the popular culture, and which prejudices millions against the faith. Why, with the way Christianity has been demonized, to not expect attacks upon Christian symbols and institutions defies logic.
But while I've allowed that many who execute these laws are relatively innocent cogs in the machinery, I cannot say the same for the vanguard of the hate—crime law movement. In point of fact, these laws are exactly what these social—engineers intended them to be: an ideology—based attempt at social control masquerading as a noble law enforcement tool. This is why we so often see such an unapologetic embrace of a double—standard in their application.
Case in point: in 2004, eleven Christians arrived at the Outfest National Coming Out Day street fair, a celebration of homosexuality, in Philadelphia, PA. While their goal was to peacefully protest the event by carrying signs and singing hymns, they were confronted by a group called the 'Pink Angels,' whose members blocked them and directed obscenities their way. Outrageously, the Christians were arrested and charged with a hate—crime for simply exercising their First Amendment rights. And the Pink Angels? You guessed it: no action was taken against them.
Of course, though, since other Western nations are even more hostile toward Christianity than are we, even more egregious examples are to be found abroad.
One example would be the fate that befell Canadian Hugh Owens, who was fined forty—five hundred Canadian dollars for creating a newspaper advertisement that included four Bible passages critical of homosexuality. Then there was the case of his countryman, Mark Harding, who was convicted of another hate—crime for distributing pamphlets critical of Islam. Part of his punishment was Islamic indoctrination under the dominion of the leader of a Canadian Islamic organization. However, no hate—crimes charges were brought against the Muslims who called him issuing death threats or those who congregated around the courthouse during his trial and chanted, 'Infidels, you will burn in Hell.'
Now, some may ask why foreign nations should be relevant to our situation. Well, with the intensifying of anti—Christian sentiment and with Supreme Court Justices like Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer saying that we need to look for inspiration beyond our borders, to the laws and constitutions of other nations, these governmental transgressions could be a portent of things to come.
At home or abroad, the dirty little secret is that hate—crime laws are designed to be a vehicle through which traditional activism and expression can be squelched so the leftist agenda can take the floor unopposed. They are a hammer, but not one used on every nail that sticks up. Rather, only the ones that stick up the 'wrong' way. Yes, it seems hate is whatever those in power say it is.
In light of this, I have some advice for those whose church is next targeted by arsonists. If the facade is burnt beyond recognition, just tell the authorities it was a homosexual mosque. They'll send out the cavalry that day.
Selwyn Duke is a frequent contributor. Contact him here.