Hate crime

I have always had a hard time understanding the concept of “hate crimes.” I fail to see what makes a hate-driven crime more grievous than one motivated by greed, lust, anger or any other “bad” emotion, or, for that matter, a crime performed in cold blood.

I think I can honestly say that in my relatively long life (I am a week short of eighty years old) I have truly and deeply hated only one person: Adolf Hitler. If by some chance I or some like-minded person had managed to kill Hitler, then that would have been a hate crime. For that matter, most if not all of the many attempted and successful tyrannicides in history, when performed by oppressed people, would qualify as hate crimes. And yet their perpetrators are usually celebrated as heroes.

Recently, someone painted a crude swastika on the door of the ΣAE fraternity house at Stanford University and, as Nanette Asimov of the San Francisco Chronicle reports, “[s]omeone painted swastikas and a pentagram on the Stanford University campus over the weekend in what university officials are calling a hate crime.” Here is a picture of the crime:

swastikaAs is known to many people, the swastika is a decorative symbol that appears in many cultures. But as should also be known, the Nazi swastika has the peculiar property of having its arms at 45º to the horizontal and vertical, not parallel to them. Having lived under Nazi occupation as a child for almost six years, I can assure you that the swastika in the picture above (which Asimov’s article erronously calls a “Nazi symbol”) does not in the least make me think of the one below:

naziGiven the recent racist history of  ΣAE, the swastika may be some sort of twisted comment about that, and have nothing to do with the fact that the Stanford chapter, supposedly, has a large proportion of Jewish members. Moreover, a swastika was also found on the Casa Italiana, and along with it a pentagram, whatever it may mean; no picture was shown.

My suggestion: let’s stop calling “hate crime” whatever offends somebody or other’s delicate sensibilities, and let’s treat vandalism for what it is.

 

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