The federal "hate crimes" measure recently signed into "law" by Barack Obama will do nothing to protect innocent people from criminal violence. But thanks to the cynical pressure group politics that led to passage of that measure, thousands of innocent people will certainly die.
Working with its congressional allies, the White House attached the hate crimes measure as an amendment to the most recent military spending measure, a $680 billion appropriation that contains at least $120 billion to fund the ongoing slaughter in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The brutally honest Chris Hedges describes how this arrangement managed to unite advocates of tyrannical "tolerance" on the home front with those who promote the mass murder of harmless foreigners abroad:
"It was a clever piece of marketing. It blunted debate about new funding for war. And behind the closed doors of the caucus rooms, the Democratic leadership told Blue Dog Democrats, who are squeamish about defending gays or lesbians from hate crimes, that they could justify the vote as support for the war. They told liberal Democrats, who are squeamish about unlimited funding for war, that they could defend the vote as a step forward in the battle for civil rights. Gender equality groups, by selfishly narrowing their concern to themselves, participated in the dirty game."
The price of "tolerance": An Afghan child displays the burns inflicted by a NATO bombing (left); other "liberated" Afghans and Iraqis are seen below. Hundreds or thousands of additional victims will die thanks to the political deal that brought about the new hate crimes law.
Granted, it isn't likely that the Pentagon appropriation, including the war funding, would have been defeated.
The difference between this measure and its predecessors is this: The leading elements of the "hate industry" -- those sanctimonious scolds who make a handsome living tutoring the rest of us in the ways of "tolerance" -- are now directly implicated in the avoidable mass murder of innocent people in the Near East.
For the squalid collection of pressure groups that promoted passage of the hate crimes measure, -- the so-called Anti-Defamation League, the self-styled Human Rights Campaign, the fraudulently named Southern Poverty Law Center, et. al. -- this is an entirely acceptable arrangement. Their fund-raising will prosper; their stature in Washington will continue to grow; their influence over law enforcement will expand; most importantly, the power of the state to persecute their political enemies will be significantly enhanced.
Oh, sure -- the political trade-off behind this "victory" means that poor brown people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq will suffer violent death in their homes, streets, and houses of worship, cultivating understandable anti-American hatred that will yield a bloody harvest of terrorism and unending war.
But, hey, aren't we talking about religion-obsessed, hetero-patriarchal homophobes, anyway? Wouldn't the world be better off if we were to be rid of such intolerant people?
Through its involvement in the political deal that led to passage of the hate crimes bill, the Hate Industry (aka the Tolerance Lobby) took an ownership interest in the regime's wars of aggression abroad.
Those running that Lobby are certainly smart enough to have realized this. The moral calculus behind that trade-off must be similar to the self-serving calculations of Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment: Since there is a certain sacrificial "percentage" of people who are fated to die each year to serve society's "greater" interests, why scruple over the death of a single unpleasant, greedy old woman -- or several thousand innocent Afghans, Pakistanis, or Iraqis? And wouldn't there be something redemptive in using that horrible war to do something to advance the cause of "tolerance" here?
The hate crimes legislation signed by Obama on October 28 bore the names of James Byrd and Matthew Shephard, murder victims whose assailants were found, prosecuted, and punished very efficiently without the dubious benefit of a federal "hate crimes" statute. There is no shortage of laws dealing with criminal violence against innocent people. But purposes served by "hate crimes" laws have nothing to do with protecting the innocent.
"Hate crimes" statutes invert the priorities described by Justice Felix Frankfurter (in a moment of atypical wisdom): "Law is concerned with external behavior and not the inner life of man." By enhancing the penalty for criminal acts either provably or putatively rooted in certain proscribed attitudes, "hate crimes" statutes impermissibly assert the government's jurisdiction over the inner life of individuals. This is, in principle, an assertion of totalitarian power.
The newly enacted hate crimes measure also expands the assault on what remains of federalism. During that brief and fondly remembered period during which the U.S. Constitution was recognized as the "law of the land," it was understood that whatever police powers could properly be exercised were (with very few specific exceptions) entirely within the purview of the individual states.
Briefly indulging the winsome fantasy that the Constitution is in some way relevant to the actions of the government ruling us, we dust off Federalist #45 in which Madison, the primary author of the Constitution, explained that the "few and defined" powers of the federal government do not include a general police power (as the Lopez ruling reminded us a few years ago).
"Did you take offense over an opinion, an unfriendly look, a politically incorrect bumper sticker or t-shirt inscription? Give us a call!"
By way of contrast, the "numerous and indefinite" powers reserved to the states "extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people" as well as matters of "internal order" -- that is, police power dealing with the protection of life, limb, and property.
There are myriad sound reasons why states shouldn't enact hate crimes laws, but they're constitutionally free to do so. The newly enacted federal measure, on the other hand, is facially incompatible with the assignment of powers described by Madison and required by the 10th Amendment precisely because it would permit federal intervention in criminal matters that fall entirely within the innate jurisdiction of the states.
That jurisdictional arrangement can be changed, of course -- through a constitutional amendment. That not being the case here, there are ample legitimate grounds for state governments to nullify the new federal hate crimes measure. Ironically, one of the arguments used by the measure's supporters actually amounts to what could be called "nullification in reverse."
The new hate crimes "law" provides for an end-run around the Constitution's prohibition of double jeopardy, thereby encouraging federal prosecution of people either acquitted by local courts, or charged with offenses other than "hate crimes."
Defenders of this approach insist that this is "necessary" because some local jurisdictions are fetid pools of bigotry, thereby creating the prospect of jury nullification on the basis of racial or other prejudice. They say that this approach is constitutionally appropriate because of the "dual sovereignty" relationship between states and the federal government.
Tearing away the gauze of sophistry in which they've been swaddled, "dual sovereignty" prosecutions are substantively indistinguishable from double jeopardy. They also tend to be dictated by considerations extraneous to individual justice -- such as race-based interest group politics.
To understand how the "dual sovereignty" doctrine operates in practice, consider this contrast: After being acquitted of criminal charges by a local jury, the four police officers who beat Rodney King were subjected to a federal "civil rights" trial for the same offense, based on the same facts; two of them were convicted. However, when O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder in what many regarded as a race-based act of jury nullification, he was not subjected to a "dual sovereignty" civil rights or hate crime prosecution.
But this sort of thing is to be expected of a system in which "justice" is a function of belonging to a government-protected collective. That's the vision being inflicted on our society through the new "hate crimes" law, a progressive victory purchased for the paltry cost of $120 billion to kill helpless foreigners.
Such a deal!
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Dum spiro, pugno!