Jack Dunphy doesn’t add any

Jack Dunphy doesn’t add any new facts to what we know about Hadayat, but puts his terrorist attack into proper perspective. What mystifies me the most about the authorities’ obtuse reaction to this attempt at mass murder is their navel-gazing about whether Hadayat’s partly, but not entirely, successful attempt to murder Jews was a “hate crime.” No one has yet articulated what alternative category of crime it might fall into; but more fundamentally, no one has explained why we should care whether this particular murder was a “hate crime.” In order to establish a system of classification, there are a few basic requirements. There must be more than one possible category into which events may be classified; there must be reasonably objective criteria determining which category events fall into; and there must be some reason why we care. The angst over Hadayat’s motivation seems to flunk these very basic tests. It is not clear what category his attack might fall into other than “hate crime” (no one would argue, I assume, that his seeking out of the El Al ticket counter constituted “random violence”). There is, as always, no clear criterion that distinguishes “hate crimes” from other crimes; and, to top it all off, I can’t imagine why anyone would care about this particular crime’s classification. To the extent that “hate crime” legislation makes any sense at all, its purpose is to enhance the punishment for what otherwise would be a relatively insignificant offense (e.g., a cross burning). Here, as with the Byrd murder in Texas, the crime was murder and could hardly be made more serious by postulating that it was motivated by “hate.” Moreover, it is hard to work up any enthusiasm for enhancing Hadayat’s sentence when he is, you know, dead. So why on earth are our law-enforcement officials agonizing over whether he committed a “hate crime”? It is obvious that Hadayat was a Muslim nut who set out to kill Jews. It also appears that he may have been a “sleeper” placed in Los Angeles by Al Quada. The only significant issue to be investigated, in my view, is whether his attack was ordered by Al Quada and supported by Al Quada (e.g., by supplying him with weapons or by subsidizing his limo service for years, waiting for him to strike) or whether he acted on his own, perhaps out of frustration that his Al Quada handlers–who, I think, are likely dead–had not assigned him a worthwhile task, or perhaps simply because he read in the newspapers that Al Quada was calling on Muslims to carry out July 4 attacks. These distinctions have obvious significance. But what has been said publicly about this attack by the authorities is, so far, ridiculous. Hopefully they will be more forthcoming when they have more facts to relate.

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