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Hate Crimes

Reader comment on item: [Fake] "Islamophobic Prejudice" and CAIR

Submitted by Peter J. Herz (United States), Aug 25, 2004 at 20:08

The Akram case points to two important legal and political issues: (1) dealing with bigotry and (2) the stupidity of instituting a special category of "hate crimes".

Regardless of the Akram case's merits, it is still important that Muslims in the USA enjoy the same impartial protection of the law. Granted fundamentalist Islam is a dreadful religion (as are neo-paganism of the Erich Ludendorff variety, Aryan Nations, Marxism-Leninism, or scientific positivism), but if its adherents in the USA do not wage a jihad of the sword against the rest of us, we need to to respect their freedom of belief. Similarly, if the Akram case should indeed prove to be one of people burning a store simply because the owner is a Muslim (or just someone swarthy, such as a Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Assyrian Christian, or Mizrahi Jew), there's dangerous and un-American bigotry afoot.

This being said, this would be a fine opportunity to re-think the whole business of "hate crimes". It seems the category was established to punish anyone who isn't a relativistic pseudo-multiculturalist. Yet what crime isn't a "hate" crime? If you love your neighbor, or simply show him a bit of respect, will you rob his house, hit him over the head, or shout intimidating slogans at him?

Should there be a real case similar to the Akram one, the authorities, should they catch the perp, could throw the book at him for trespass, arson, reckless endangerment, assault (for verbal threats given earlier in the day, should the arsonist and the verbal bully prove to be one and the same), and a host of other long-established crimes under the Common Law.

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