At What Point Do Claims of ‘Hate Crime’ Become Hateful?

Chapel Hill Shooting Families (Associated Press)
Associated Press

The shocking triple murder of three young Muslims in North Carolina may yet turn out to be a hate crime. However, police say the cause was a dispute with the alleged killer over a parking space. A neighbor has said he was an “equal opportunity” hater. And the alleged killer, an atheist with a progressive political bent, had apparently backed the controversial “Ground Zero mosque” on social media when conservatives had opposed it. So the evidence of a hate crime appears weak, thus far.

That has not stopped the family of the victims, members of the media, the political left, and even the Palestinian Authority from claiming the murders were a hate crime. (Palestinian officials referred, without shame or irony, to “terrorism which targets civilians based on their religion.”) The murders have become a rallying cry, evoking claims that it is dangerous to be openly Muslim in the United States. The sister of one of the victims even implicated the recent film American Sniper.

Proponents of the hate crime theory also claim the murder of three Muslims is being ignored by the media–a claim that requires highly selective reading and viewing. They say that three victims of another group would have been presumed to be victims of a hate crime. An immediate counter-example springs to mind: the triple-murder of three Jews near Boston on Sep. 11, 2011, which was not (then) considered a hate crime–though one suspect later turned out to be a Muslim terrorist.

One can certainly understand the anguish of the family and friends of the victims, who seem to have been wonderful people and proud Americans with bright futures ahead of them. Yet an appropriate response to the question of whether this was a hate crime, especially in the absence of evidence, would be to leave that question to the authorities, not to accuse society in general of complicity. Such accusations, repeated in the absence of further evidence, begin to appear hateful themselves.

Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.

Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak


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