When is a hate crime not a hate crime?

Crimes motivated by racism are classified as "hate crimes" under federal statutes. Consider one hate crime that occurred not long ago in a mid-sized city in Texas.

Late one night, a black woman living in a predominately white neighborhood was startled awake by the sound of breaking glass. Inside her 4-year-old son's room, she found a brick. Attached to it was a note:  "Keep Eastside White. Keep Eastside Strong." 
Yes, a clear-cut case of racism. A hate crime. Yet incredibly, the police decided otherwise. Why? Police said the note did not constitute "hate speech." Accordingly, the crime "probably would be criminal mischief and deadly conduct, both misdemeanors," according to police.

No doubt, the brick-throwing incident -- and the police's handling of it -- would surely make a good story for Harvard's Henry Louis Gates, Jr to include in yet another essay or book on America's deep-seated racism. Racism that he recently experienced first-hand.
The forgoing incident, by the way, occurred not long ago in Austin, Texas. However, two small details were changed to make a point: The mother was in fact white, and she was living in a predominately black neighborhood. This may help to explain why police decided there was no hate crime: Hate crimes, of course, can only be committed by whites against other racial and ethnic minorities.

The mother in this case, Barbara Frische, also got no sympathy from the head of Austin's NAACP -- a group that, of course, is the first to shout "hate crime" when the victim is black -- and the perpetrator white.

"Throwing a brick into somebody's home, that's a crime. It's a criminal act, and that's how it should be addressed," said Nelson Linder, president of the local NAACP chapter, during an interview with the Austin American-Statesman.

According to the paper, "Linder said this incident is linked to an undercurrent of racism that city leaders have yet to address in East Austin." It's a curious statement. Because presumably, Linder is talking about racism against blacks -- not whites -- in the predominately black part of town where Frische lives.

The politically correct Statesman -- attempting to put the brick-throwing incident into context -- explained that the neighborhood where Frische lives has been undergoing lots of changes that are upsetting to minority residents:

African-American and Latino residents had been in the majority since the 1920s and '30s -- a trend that is starting to change. Now, some of their descendants are selling their properties to a new wave of affluent investors and would-be residents. Property taxes have doubled, tripled or more since 2000, according to Travis Central Appraisal District records.

"I think it's a very sensitive time for a lot of people," Linder said. "Certainly as African Americans we're under a lot of pressure, but that's not an excuse" (for throwing a brick through somebody's window).

The Statesman's Alice-in-Wonderland story had an Alice-in-Wonderland headline:

"Police: Brick thrown through window not hate crime/Incident is linked to an undercurrent of racism that city leaders have yet to address in East Austin, NAACP leader says." (see photo)


In other words, blacks who commit hate crimes are not racist because, well, it's white racism that's motivating them.

Make sense? It does to many in a liberal city like Austin.