Is Hate a Crime?

What’s the definition of a hate crime?

Recently, I tried to write up a response to the events that have been blanketing media outlets this month about terrorist attacks and the backlash of islamophobia. (Is this a real word or was it made up? As it turns out it was coined by an anthropologist who wanted to give a term to the hate and vitriol after the first attacks by al-Qaeda in the mid 1990’s.)  Following the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, the follow-up Paris attacks,  and the prayer events at Duke University, I kept thinking I have to shout at the wind. Someone needed to talk about the failures of safety and the falsehoods of security in a hegemonic yet pluralistic society. The problem was that it felt like my voice was filled with hate and spurned on by righteous indignation. I honestly thought that if I put some kind of personal spin on the events I could unravel the essence of social perception towards revenge, but in the end, it was prideful hate that was pushing me to speak against the choices of others. Then the shooting at UNC refocused the debate, Coptic Christians were murdered, and now over 200 have been kidnapped in Syria.

It is quite odd to think that Kareem Abdul-Jabar is my new touchstone to Islam, but his words keep coming back, “being Islamic is the new Black” in the American social landscape. It is socially acceptable to ostracize someone who is a Muslim now. Why is that? After all, I grew up with friends who are Sunni and Catholic, I’ve taught students that were Hindus, Buddhist, and Shia, and I know Palestinian, Lebanese, and Haitian refugees. My whole life has been filled with those of a different faith and culture than my own. Yet, now I wonder what is happening when the media automatically condemns an event when social, ethnic, or racial ties are assumed from the outset with no real evidence. If I were gunned down in a parking lot, would it read “Evangelical Killed in Richmond?” Or would it be white middle aged teacher?

And yet, this very thing happens everyday worldwide. Christians die as martyrs but the news doesn’t report it as a hate crime. However, if a community, if only slightly and without evidence,  embraces an event as a hate crime, the public media sites so as well without genuflection. Why does Ferguson count as hate, when the silencing of pastors in Houston does not? Why does hate crime and racial law apply to some states and not all?

In fact, hate is the exact wrong word, the right one being sin. Sin is what kills people; for it is the love of a secular thing (money, power, lust, vanity) that causes us to be hold ill will towards another or to covet who they might be. Again, the answer is sin and the idea of guilt in a secular world that cannot redeem the past.

We might live in a post-Christian America, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t need redemption. The law is imperfect because men are imperfect. We as a country do not know how to forgive without first asking Christ to redeem us. Therefore the secular world will continue to create laws that pigeonhole us into groups of bigots or tolerates. No one wants to believe that a person would kill over a parking spot, but they do. Therefore, when a flood of hate is poured out by the media it becomes difficult to accept that a crime between people of different cultures is not racially, ethnically, or religiously motivated.

True members of faith would rather conquer through conversion that in a coffin, for the chores of angels rejoice at the sounds of repentance and have not damnation.