Eric Holder, Hate Crimes and Terrorism

During my habitual morning perusal of national headlines, this one caught my eye:

AG Holder Urges New Hate Crimes Law

Curious, I started reading the article, and quickly found myself getting annoyed.

Attorney General Eric Holder wants new federal hate crimes laws created to put a stop to what he refers to as “violence masquerading as political activism”.

Specifically, he’s referring to a recent rash of extremist violence– the unsolved bombing of a New York City Starbucks coffee shop in May (rumored to be caused by an anti-globalization group), the shooting of two soldiers at an Army recruitment center in Arkansas by a loony anti-American, the shooting of three Pittsburgh police officers in April by a white supremacist, the arrests of four extremists- also in April- in connection with their plot to blow up synagogues and down airplanes, the assassination of an abortion doctor while attending church, and the shooting at the holocaust museum.

Whew.

That’s quite a list.

Now please don’t misunderstand- I am all about ending violence- in all its forms, most especially the kind of violence that stems from political extremism.

What annoys me is the fact that we already have a term for this type of violence… there are federal laws already on the books to combat it. It’s not that we need new hate crime legislation, rather the more logical path would be to utilize the laws that are already in place.

The type of violence Holder is referring to already has a name. We need to stop side-stepping around this issue and call it exactly what it is.

Terrorism.

According to Congress, the definition of terrorism is “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents.”22 United States Code 2656f(d)(2).

Congress breaks this down further by identifying five criteria for an act to be considered terrorism:

  1. The act must be premeditated
  2. It must be politically motivated
  3. The act must be violent
  4. The act must be carried out against non-combatants
  5. It must be carried out by sub-national or clandestine agents (not at the bidding of the U.S. Government)

Let’s review.

Eric Holder wants to create federal legislation that would end “violence masquerading as political activism”… and yet… we already have federal laws on the books making just such a thing not only illegal, but physically defining it as terrorism.

The shooting at the Holocaust Museum, for example, neatly fits all five criteria… as does the Murder of Dr. George Tiller, the killing of the Pittsburgh police officers, and the the plot to blow up synogogues and shoot down airplanes would have, had the plans not been thwarted (thankfully).

What is mind-boggling to me is the fact that to-date, the only  two of these incidents to result in actual terrorism charges are the cases in which the two soldiers were shot (one fatally) at the Army recruitment facility in Arkansas, and the case in which the terrorists were attempting to blow up synagogues and shoot down airplanes.

It is interesting to note that these two cases are also the only two on the list that involve both black men and Muslims.

The soldier shooter has been charged with 16 counts of committing a terrorist act.

The charges against the men who tried to kill jews by blowing up synagogues and planes include conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction in the United States and conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles.

Don’t get me wrong- I am not claiming, even for an instant, that the black terrorists deserve any more of our sympathy or compassion than the white terrorists do. I fully support the decision to charge them using federal terrorism laws.

Fully.

I simply don’t understand how it’s terrorism to target jews in a plot to blow up synagogues, but not terrorism to target jews by shooting up the Holocaust Museum.

Similarly, I don’t get how it’s terrorism for a Muslim extremist to kill an Army recruiter and wound another soldier, but not terrorism for a white supremist to shoot three Pittsburgh police officers.

The Department of Homeland Security, for example, when discussing the Holocaust Museum shooting, flat-out referred to that incident as an act of “domestic terrorism”.

Um…

… Then why are we not charging the gunman with terrorism?

There is no point in creating new laws- hate crime laws- that make an act illegal that is…

Uh…

… Already illegal.

How about we actually utilize the laws that are already on the books, and start recognizing these extreme, politically motivated, violent acts for what they really are?

Simply passing a law that contains the exact same verbage, albeit uses  a different name (this time it’s a “hate crime” as opposed to “terrorism”), is a redundant waste of taxpayer dollars.

Besides, we all know how well the original Federal Hate Crimes bill fared in Congress back in 2007. The president threatened to veto the legislation, and the only way Congress could manage to get it passed was to shove it into one of Bush’s much-needed war spending bills.

Sneaky, sneaky.

I don’t necessarily consider hate crime legislation a bad thing… I just think it’s a stupid waste of both time and money when the hatred one is attempting to combat is already quite illegal.

Especially when it appears the only reason the current law is not being used is because of some as-yet unexplained fear that our federal prosecutors apparently have when it comes to actually using that ever-so-dirty word- terrorism– as it pertains to citizens of our own country.

How absolutely ridiculous for Attorney General Eric Holder to act as if he needs a new bill to pass in Congress before he can effectively go after these whack jobs.

He already has everything he needs to get the job done…

… He’s simply unwilling to do it.

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