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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 16, 2006 / 18 Shevat, 5766

The flames of hate in Alabama

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Suppose that in 2005 unknown hoodlums had firebombed 10 gay bookstores and bars in San Francisco, reducing several of them to smoking rubble. It is not hard to imagine the alarm that would have spread through the Bay Area's gay community or the manhunt that would have been launched to find the attackers. The blasts would have been described everywhere as "hate crimes," editorial pages would have thundered with condemnation, and public officials would have vowed to crack down on crimes against gays with unprecedented severity.


Suppose that vandals last month had attacked 10 Detroit-area mosques and halal restaurants, leaving behind shattered windows, wrecked furniture, and walls defaced with graffiti. The violence would be national front-page news. On blogs and talk radio, the horrifying outbreak of anti-Muslim bigotry would be Topic No. 1. Bills would be introduced in Congress to increase the penalties for violent "hate crimes" — no one would hesitate to call them by that term — and millions of Americans would rally in solidarity with Detroit's Islamic community.


Fortunately, those sickening scenarios are only hypothetical. Here is one that is not:


In the past two weeks, 10 Baptist churches have been burned in rural Alabama. Five churches in Bibb County — Ashby Baptist, Rehobeth Baptist, Antioch Baptist, Old Union Baptist, and Pleasant Sabine — were torched between midnight and 3 a.m. on Feb. 3. Four days later, arsonists destroyed or badly damaged Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in Greene County, Dancy First Baptist Church in Pickens County, and two churches in Sumter County, Galilee Baptist and Spring Valley Baptist. On Saturday, Beaverton Freewill Baptist Church in northwest Alabama became the 10th house of worship to go up in flames.


Ten arson attacks against 10 churches — all of them Baptist, all in small Alabama towns, all in the space of eight days: If anything deserves the label of "hate crime," obviously this does.


Or does it?


"We're looking to make sure this is not a hate crime and that we do everything that we need to do," FBI Special Agent Charles Regan told reporters in Birmingham. Make sure this is *not* a hate crime? If 10 Brooklyn synagogues went up in flames in a little over a week, wouldn't investigators start from the assumption that the arson was motivated by hatred of Jews? If 10 Cuban-American shops and restaurants in Miami were deliberately burned to the ground, wouldn't the obvious presumption be that anti-Cuban animus was involved?


Apparently Baptist churches are different.


"I don't see any evidence that these fires are hate crimes," Mark Potok, a director of the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center, told the Los Angeles Times. "Anti-Christian crimes are exceedingly rare in the South."


But are anti-Christian crimes really that rare? Or are they simply less interesting to the left, which prefers to cast Christians as victimizers, not victims?


A search of the Southern Poverty Law Center's website, for example, turns up no references to Jay Scott Ballinger, a self-described Satan worshiper deeply hostile to Christianity, who was sentenced to life in prison for burning 26 churches between 1994 and 1999. The SPLC has claimed that the number of hate crimes in American is sharply underreported. Yet if Ballinger's arsons weren't "hate crimes," what were they?


Running through the coverage of the latest church burnings is an almost palpable yearning to cast the story in racial terms. "Federal investigators are looking for two white men for questioning in connection with a string of church fires in central Alabama," began a National Public Radio story on Friday. "Race may be a factor." In fact, race seems not to be a factor at all — five of the churches had mostly white congregations, five were largely black. To a media ever ready to expose racism in American culture, the arsonists' lack of regard for skin color must be maddening.


At times, the eagerness to make this a story about race is almost laughable. "The area is known as Alabama's Black Belt because of its dark, rich soil and poor African American population," the L.A. Times made a point of noting last week. On Monday, the Orlando Sentinel claimed that "some church members" think the fires are linked to the death and funeral of "civil-rights icon Coretta Scott King, whose late husband, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., was a Baptist minister."


In 1996, a spate of fires in the South was widely and falsely trumpeted in the media as an eruption of racism. "We are facing an epidemic of terror," declared Deval Patrick, the Clinton administration's assistant attorney general for civil rights. But as it turned out, there was no racist conspiracy. More than a third of the arsonists arrested were black, and more than half the churches burned were white. So perhaps it is progress of a sort that, this time around, the media are keeping in check the urge to cry "Racism!"


But real progress will come only when we abandon the whole misguided notion of "hate crimes," which deems certain crimes more deserving of outrage and punishment not because of what the criminal did, but because of the group to which the victim belonged. The burning of a church is a hateful act regardless of the congregants' skin color. That some people bend over backward not to say so is a disgrace.

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Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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