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Friday, January 8, 2010

Terrorism vs. Hate Crimes

I'm noticing something strange. I've talked to some people who believe that terror suspects should be treated differently than "regular" criminals because their crimes involved organized networks of people who are plotting their deliberate attacks against our country. But at the same time these are the same people who don't recognize the importance of hate crime legislation. They think treating a race motivated crime any different is showing some sort of preferential treatment towards minorities. Aren't this just swapping out minority status with American citizenship?


  1. >> Aren't this just swapping out minority status with American citizenship?

    Not at all. The difference is between an act of war (Jihad is war by definition) and a thought crime.

    Hate crime laws statutorily increase the sentence of a criminal depending on what they were thinking at the time they committed the crime. Aside from being impossible to really know, it should be irrelevant. Assault is assault, murder is murder, prosecute the crime. Motivation can be used at sentencing already - we don't need another law for it.

    On the other hand we have rules of war and the Geneva convention for a reason. Soldiers wearing uniforms and abiding by the rules of war are covered under the Geneva convention and have many rights thereunder. Soldiers in civilian clothes, not following those rules can be treated as spies and shot on sight. They are not subject to Geneva Convention and have almost no rights. These rules have been developed over centuries to *protect civilians* during armed conflict.
    The problem is that while the Jihadis *know* they're at war, many Americans refuse to acknowledge that it *is* war.

  2. Part of it is surely: "When someone commits a crime against any group I consider myself to be part of, it's terrorism. When it's against any group that I'm not so fond of, it's justified..."

    Yet it is surely true, as timkb says, that jihadis are at war with us; yet I think it's a gross oversimplification to say that the jihadis fall neatly into any established category, either legal or military.

    Look no farther than Nidal Hasan, who shot up Fort Hood: he was a full-fledged Major in the US Army, and NOT a member of Al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization - yet it's clear that he was waging his own private Islamic Jihad the day he opened fire on his own fellow soldiers.

    He's surely a traitor and a murderer - but he could hardly be called a spy; to my knowledge there's no evidence he provided any secret information to America's enemies.

    He's a free-lance bad guy, but NOT a member of any hostile group or organization. To dub HIM an "enemy combatant" would be a truly epic distortion of the term.

  3. I can see how it might be easier to recognize or judge a foreign, enemy combatant or 'terrorist' because the international lines are drawn, but if either case could be considered worse, wouldn't it be the man who attacks a fellow countryman on the basis of race? Particularly in a country of such diversity?

    I can expect hatred from outsiders, but America is supposed to be synonymous with acceptance, which makes internal hate crimes more terrible than international terrorism, in my eyes.