Jewish World Review Oct. 31, 2000 / 2 Mar-Cheshvan, 5761
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- THIS YEAR, it seems especially appropriate that the last week before the election is the week of Halloween. An official Democrat website is even titled after a horror film (iknowwhatyoudidintexas.com) and features the “Scary Record” and “chilling story of George W. Bush.” Alleged “facts…scarier than fiction” are amassed on the site to frighten visitors about Bush’s legacy in Texas, as well as the policies he and the Republicans want to impose on an unsuspecting American public. Paid for by the Democratic National Committee, the site provides this warning: “Nothing is more terrifying than the official platforms of the Republican Party and its state parties.”
Nothing? Saddam Hussein? A ballistic missile tipped with anthrax? Returning home, after a one-night-stand, to face Mrs. Clinton?
Somewhere in Michigan, the sister of James Byrd, the African American tortured and lynched in rural Texas two years ago is trotted out by talshe Gore campaign to accuse George Bush of being soft on hate crimes, and thus implicitly of being a racist-lover himself. Somewhere on television, an “independent expenditures ad,” funded by the NAACP (tax-exempt and headed by two former Democratic legislators), is airing images of the lynching, while making the case against Bush even more directly.
And on www.iknowwhatyoudidintexas.com itself, there are these words: “When faced with one of the most horrendous crimes motivated by racial hatred in recent memory, Bush chose to sit on the sidelines and not lead in expanding and strengthening laws against those kinds of crimes.”
A pack of fear-laced lies.
The men who murdered James Byrd by dragging him behind a pick-up truck in Texas two years ago, have been condemned to death or life imprisonment by Texas courts under existing Texas law, which includes a hate crimes bill.
Moreover, the most horrendous crime motivated by racial hatred in recent memory was certainly not Byrd’s lynching, which took place two years ago, but the murder of an 8-year-old white boy named Kevin Shiflett last April, in the very shadow of the nation’s capital. Kevin Shiflett was murdered by a 29-year-old African American, who screamed racial epithets at the youngster and slit his throat, while Kevin was playing on the sidewalk. In contrast to the killing of Byrd, which was the subject of presidential hand-wringing, Capitol Hill grand-standing and national editorial outrage, Kevin’s murder was not even reported as a racial crime. To this day, it has been systematically and consciously kept out of the public eye. Collaborators in this suppression include local authorities, the media and every hypocritical organization - the Democratic Party and the NAACP foremost among them - that claims to oppose racial violence and stand up for civil rights.
For four months following the atrocity, the local police in Alexandria Virginia, where the crime took place, actively suppressed the racial identities of Kevin and his attacker. Now that the racial identity of perpetrator and victim are known, and the racist motive of the attacker is clear (he previously tried to strangle a white person and left racist notes in his hotel room), the crime has still not been declared a “hate crime,” and the nation still could care less about Kevin Shiflett and his fate.
Far from regarding Kevin’s slashing as a “hate crime,” Democrats involved in the case, are on record praising the police gag and anxious to keep the racial aspects of the crime hidden. Alexandria Democrat and city council member Joyce Woodson said of the police suppression: “What they did was proper. We already live in a racially charged world. I don’t think knowing that would have any impact on the way they investigated the case. It could have colored their approach in ways that would have been inappropriate.” Democratic Mayor Kerry Donley and Democrat council member William Euille agreed.** Representatives Barney Frank and Maxine Waters, the most vocal congressional advocates of hate crime legislation, have maintained a silence about Kevin Shiflett’s fate that speaks louder than words.
Evidently, hate crimes against eight-year-olds, if they are white, are ok with liberals. This is one reason why Republicans like Bush have opposed hate crime legislation directed at specific groups like gays (as a kind of human Endangered Species Act). Why should gays be protected from hate by heterosexuals, but not heterosexuals from hate by gays? (Think only of the attack by ACT-UP militants on St. Patrick’s Cathedral a few years ago.) Consider the fact that no liberal or feminist group has proposed making rape a hate crime, while rape is universally regarded as an act of hate. Could the reason be that such legislation would jeopardize another protected group - African American males - who commit over 40% of such crimes?
Beyond this problem lies a much larger one. Hate crimes, in fact, are “thought crimes,” and thought crimes are the defining transgressions of anti-democratic, totalitarian regimes. The very essence of a totalitarian regime is, in some sense, its determination to punish the “thought crimes” of those who disagree with its rule. For much of the left, this may not be a problem. After all, during the Cold War, many who now call themselves liberal were able to view the democratic West and the totalitarian East as “morally equivalent.” But for anyone concerned about the future of American democracy, it is a very real concern. It is dangerous to make individual conscience the target of prosecution by the state, however distasteful that conscience may be. The Christian cross or the Jewish star, are hateful symbols to some. A gay activist group in Chicago has already protested a proposal to hold the Southern Baptist Convention in that city as a “hate crime.”
The problem of racism and similar hates is one of attitude not law. To turn attitudes into crimes is the antithesis of what a democracy is about. The charge that the Democrats are attempting to lay at the foot of candidate Bush with respect to the lynching of James Byrd is tantamount to the accusation that a skeptical attitude towards hate crime legislation implies a less than militant opposition to hate itself. In the right circumstances, this might eventually be construed as a crime. Those who defended the civil liberties of Communists during the McCarthy era, for example, often found themselves accused of being soft on Communism, and thus culpable too.
The double standard the left systematically applies to hate crimes is a problem for those - mainly conservatives -- who lack a partisan racial (or sexual orientation) agenda. But it is also an indicator of a problem inherent in the way that liberals and Democrats habitually demonize their opponents.
In this regard, the most remarkable non-story of this election campaign has been the candidacy of Pat Buchanan. Have we forgotten how Buchanan was, until recently, demonized as the quintessential Republican racist? The author Michael Lind even made himself the toast of the New York media a few years ago with a defamatory screed called “Up From Conservatism,” in which he characterized the Republican Party as being run by anti-Semitic racists, specifically Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson and the Ku Klux Klan. When Buchanan left the party last year, liberals and Democrats excoriated candidate Bush for regretting Buchanan’s departure, and took his gesture of inclusion as a sign, instead, that Bush - along with Republicans generally - was really a member of the “Bob Jones (racist) right.” (Of course, Bob Jones University has itself performed an act of contrition in removing its last color bar). A writer for the Boston Globe referred to Buchanan, at the time, as “the paranoid activist for white Christian rights” and concluded “Bush’s silence [over Buchanan] is scary.”
But when Buchanan actually left the Republican Party, nobody went with him. Far from running the Party, as Lind preposterously claimed, or being a representative of the Republican mainstream, Buchanan emerged as a political eccentric with less of a following among Republicans than a fringe socialist like Ralph Nader has among rank and file Democrats.
Most un-remarked of all was Buchanan’s choice of an African-American woman, Ezola Foster, to be his running mate. How can it be that none of Buchanan’s reckless attackers has, since, commented on this fact, which would appear to refute most of the hateful smears that had been directed at him concerning the volatile issue of race? It is true that unguarded statements by Buchanan lent some weight to suspicions on this issue. The present writer was even one of those who welcomed Buchanan’s departure from the Republican Party. But now that Buchanan has shown - and shown dramatically, in unmistakable deed -- that his America does include all Americans, it is time for a public reappraisal. The failure of liberals and Democrats on the left to make this reappraisal is telling.
Intemperate remarks are one thing (and in a democracy need to be protected). Epithets like “racist” or “paranoid activist for white Christian rights” are quite another, and when mistaken need to be retracted. In the present political climate, is an epithet like racist, so casually applied to Buchanan (and other Republicans like Bob Barr and Trent Lott), any less wounding or destructive than “faggot” or “kike” or “nigger”? Why, then, no apologies from the sensitive left for its demonizing slurs on Patrick Buchanan and George Bush?
To strengthen the bonds of inclusion in American life, it is necessary to extend tolerance to those
who disagree politically as well. Hate crime legislation is a bad and dangerous idea. If we must talk
about hate crimes, as a possible means of combating hate, it is time for the left to include the hate
speech that liberals regularly employ against Republicans and conservatives as
JWR contributor David Horowitz is editor of Front Page Magazine and the author of several books, including, The Art of Political War and Other Radical Pursuits, Hating Whitey, Art of Political War, Radical Son : A Generational Odyssey . Comment on this article by clicking here.
10/16/00: Dems are lucky to have Gore
10/16/00: Dems are lucky to have Gore