HENRY GALLAGHER FIELDS -- What is NOT a hate crime



Definitions are important
At least we know
what is not a hate crime




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I have been labeled a hate criminal for suggesting that one should be able to freely investigate the claims of Holocaust orthodoxy. But I have actually gotten off pretty easy: in some countries that are always described as free and democratic, people who question the Holocaust are actually imprisoned for hate crime. And in some countries the authorities wink at certain unofficial punishments, such as mobbing and arson. Penalties differ according to where you are in the world, ranging from the official and violent; to the unofficial and violent; to the unofficial and nonviolent, as is (mostly) the case here in the land of the free and home of the brave, where all the shivering rabbitfolk keep their trap shut and their mind closed on a purely voluntary basis.

Notwithstanding the inconsistency in penalties, however, maybe we can at least come up with a definition of hate crime that all respectable folk can agree on. As a first step toward that end, I'll describe something that is definitely not a hate crime. On March 22 an Israeli helicopter gunship launched a missile at a 67-year-old partly blind wheelchair-bound quadriplegic, killing him and a number of bystanders. Far from being a hate crime, that was unquestionably yet another demonstration of Israeli courage and love of peace and justice. In fact, the attack was ordered by Prime Minister Sharon, the wise and gentle statesman whom President Bush apotheosizes as a "man of peace." (You know, like Lincoln and Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt — and, during World War II, our gallant ally "Uncle Joe.")

We're told that the target, Sheik Ahmad Yassin, deserved death because he headed an organization, Hamas, that promoted terrorism. But exactly what crime had the Sheik committed? Did he personally blow people up while being pushed around in his wheelchair? No, that's as absurd as the idea that Ariel Sharon personally launches missiles from behind his desk. Is there any proof that Yassin planned suicide bombings? Well, not really. (Certainly no such evidence will ever be introduced at trial, now, will it?)

What Yassin did was belong to an organization that does that kind of killing and that has actually called for the end of Israel. Now, most people have no problem seeing conspirators being prosecuted for felonies that they helped set in train, even if those conspirators haven't personally bloodied their hands. Hitler spent a lot of time eating cream cakes and playing with his dog, and no time personally murdering anyone; but most people would maintain that he still had many grave crimes to answer for. Very well, then: since Yassin lived in Israeli-occupied territory, did it not occur to any of the occupation authorities to arrest him and bring him to trial for whatever crime he was suspected of? As a remarkable matter of fact, Yassin had been imprisoned and had been released, by then-Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in 1997. If this elderly quadriplegic really merited state murder, why did Dear Bibbi let him go? Had Yassin committed a different and graver sort of crime after his release than he had committed before being jailed? (That's another question that we'll hear no testimony on in any court of law.)


What of the bystanders? According to a story by James Bennet in the New York Times, "At least seven people besides Sheik Yassin died in the Israeli attack, including bodyguards and bystanders, Palestinian officials said. Seventeen people were wounded." ("Palestinians Swear Vengeance for Killing of Cleric by Israelis," March 23, 2004) One need not set up "Palestinian officials" as truth-telling tribunes to suppose that a missile fired from a gunship is likely to inflict what the U.S. Empire is pleased to call "collateral damage." (I guess it's hard to find good snipers, even for the Israelis. Where's old Lee Harvey Oswald when you need him?)

In these parts a fellow who goes out and recklessly sprays buckshot all over the neighborhood, and ends up killing or maiming a man's dog, is going to be held to account. He'll at least have to pay a fine or damages. However, it looks as if no one's going to be held to account for murdering and maiming those bystanders in Gaza. But here's the thing — and listen up, because this is a crucial point — they were all just Palestinians: lower than dogs.

We're told (constantly) that Israel has an absolute right to defend itself, and that it has the absolute right to determine the targets and the methods of that defense. It's beginning to look categorical, isn't it: Israel cannot commit a hate crime. Certainly blowing up crime suspects and passersby with missiles can never be considered a hate crime — or any other type of crime, for that matter — so long as it is done by Israel and so long as the victims are mangy Untermenschen.


Having made some progress toward defining what is not a hate crime, I'd better touch on one thing that is a hate crime, in hopes of sparing the naive and unwary a lifetime load of trouble. Criticizing Israel: that's a hate crime.

In fact, given the party line enforced by the World System, shouldn't the murders-by-helicopter in Gaza put Sharon in line for the Nobel Peace Prize? Wouldn't anything less verge on crimethink?

March 26, 2004

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