Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Hate Crimes

Given an earlier mini-rant about the “Stop the Hate” public service announcements that I posted in List of Annoying Things and given my war essay I wrote shortly after September 11, I should post this article about hate crimes against ethnic Arabs and Moslems in our country.

It is a balanced article. It notes that FBI-counted hate crimes against these groups surged last year. Yet it also doesn’t descend into crisis hysteria warning about relocation camps or anything. The article notes the responses of two leaders in the communities saying:

Ibish agreed with Zogby that considering the devastation of Sept. 11, the problem could have been worse.

"This doesn't mean the people of this country acted badly," Ibish said. "It means there's a particular problem facing an exposed and vulnerable community that comes from people who didn't know how to control their emotions."

The article also noted that the president spoke out immediately to head off such crimes and that the crimes tapered off.

I am relieved that the crimes have dwindled. I am saddened that they spike up in the first place (perhaps at the time the Stop the Hate campaign was justified, but by the time it aired I imagine the crimes were dropping off anyway, making the ads seem hysterical to me anyway). I am satisfied that the authorities punish such crimes. I worry that another attack will prompt a new wave of violence. Yet the relatively small numbers are gratifying and speak well of our nation. Contrast our admittedly ugly response with the far worse—and murderous--behavior of Moslems in Nigeria, or those elsewhere who cheered 9-11. And the ability of the cited leaders to make level-headed assessments about the situation without screaming bloody murder is also encouraging. It is a good sign that we can all get through this as Americans.

And it is important in the war on terror too. Only small numbers of Arab-Americans or Moslem-Americans will actively support our enemies. A few will approve their tactics but will not be involved. Many will have some sympathy for their causes while deploring their tactics. Most will be horrified at the violence against us. Most will accept fighting the terrorists is just. Many will actively fight for America. Thus it has been in all our wars with all the many ethnic and religious minorities who have come here only to see their adopted home fight their home of birth—or the home of their parents. Shoot, a whole bunch of people in San Francisco and on college campuses actively oppose fighting terrorism yet we do not draw larger conclusions about their broader ethnic communities.

Essentially, don’t target Arabs and Moslems because of their ethnicity or religion (yet don’t fail to question any who behave suspiciously just because we fear looking mean—I’m still mad at those idiot med school students who decided to talk like terrorists because they didn’t like the looks they were getting in a Georgia restaurant. They harmed their community and our country with their little juvenile game) Don’t make them feel one with the few who fight us. Don’t feed the small amount of sympathy for the enemy that they may have and turn it into full-fledged support for the enemy that overrides every other loyalty they have. I can feel a little of this even in myself. I’m part Irish, yet I think Britain is a good ally. I support them. I think the IRA is wrong to commit terrorism to achieve their goals. Yet don’t push me to embrace British policy on the Irish question. They have treated the Irish fairly poorly and in the past it has been criminal. I would resent having to actively endorse British policy in this case even as I think of their government as a loyal ally. Who knows, maybe I would have contributed to the IRA, not thinking about what was done with the money while trying to ignore the contradictions of supporting the IRA and my own country. And it was my grandparents who came here! I have no idea what county my Irish side came from. The conflicting loyalties that Arab-Americans and Moslems must feel with relatives they still communicate with still in the old world must be terrible. And since we don’t require absolute active loyalty from those of us who were born here (if we did, we’d just fence off Berkeley and electrify the perimeter), don’t do that with our more recent arrivals.

Addendum: After reading this article, which notes that 80% of the anti-Moslem hate crimes took the form of graffiti or threats, I have to take some of the credit away from the Post author. Surely it is worthy to note that however noxious it is, our “hate” takes the form of graffiti and threats left on answering machines; while their hate results in mass murder. What we wouldn’t give for just hate speech directed against us.

Actually, we shouldn’t give a damn thing. Argue with Islamists who hate us—kill those who would hurt us. And break the Islamofascist fantasy of resisting us militarily by taking down Saddam’s thug regime.

Speaking of which, I mentioned a while ago my memory of an incident of the Iran-Iraq War (the real First Gulf War) that shows why I think Saddam is unlikely to do the smart thing and will instead fight (and why nobody will tell him not to fight). The gist of my story was true if not the specifics. From USA Today:

When Iraq's war against Iran was faltering in the early 1980s, Saddam Hussein startled his Cabinet with a seemingly uncharacteristic request. He sought advice, encouraging the assembled ministers to speak freely.

Health Minister Riyadh Ahmed took Saddam at his word and suggested that he temporarily step down to appease the Iranian religious leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. A peace agreement would be secured and Saddam could later return to power. Saddam thanked Ahmed and then ordered his arrest. The minister was sent home to his wife in pieces, the remains stuffed into a black canvas bag.

On to Baghdad.

Oh, and a little help to Nigeria to fight off the thugreocracy movement there would be nice.