When is a hate crime, a hate crime?

Plantation-slaves

It doesn't take a long journey into American history to uncover images like this. 

Plantation owners working with slaves to run a viable agriculture business.
City officials trying to oppress workers.
The Clash between people or what they refer to as animals.

It's a nasty black eye in the history of our great nation.

So, you can imagine the outrage when two University of Missouri Students decided to scatter cotton balls all over the lawn of the Gaines/Oldham Black Cultural Center in Columbia.  It was the last Friday of Black History month, and of course their actions were legally no more than trespassing or vandalism.  But should it be considered more?

The debate surrounding Hate Crimes is a political one, and I've tried to steer clear of politics for the last year or so; but this made my nerves cringe yesterday when I heard about the incident. We talked about it on our weekly radio broadcast at http://www.castlerockradio.com, and the more I thought about it, the more I was disgusted.  

Isn't this 2010?
Haven't we come far enough through a civil rights movement?
Where in the world does decency reign?

Sure we can rack this mindless event up to ignorant college students, but really?  My five year old knows better….

Of course, as soon as you try to think about this moronic act as a hate crime, images of Matthew Shepherd, Rodney King, and an agenda of politically motivated discipline enters the conversation.

Crime is crime and should be punished accordingly, but when two ignorant college students try to rip off the bandage of 200 years of hate and discrimination, it's time to call this something different than vandalism.  

I know the effects of subtle racism. 

We've adopted two kids from Africa, and you'd think giving an orphan a home would be enough to garner support from casual passerbys.  But think again.

Racism is alive in America. 

I used to think it was just something held on by a community to get something, but let me be one to tell you, when I walk down the street with my little girl, people look at me with an eye of interrogation. 

It's not just made up.

It's a real deal.

And, if ever we're going to get rid of this awful practice of hate, we must be a people who can recognize the motives of a vandal to hurt the collective conscience of a group of people.  

I'm a believer in prosecuting crimes like this in a different way.  Until we do something to protect the respect of people, we'll continue to fall into mindless acts of hurt.

Isn't it interesting that Jesus said this very thing?

"the second is like it…Love your Neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:37-40)

If we can figure out how to live like this, maybe we can move past the pettiness of human nature. 

What do you think?

2 Comments

  1. Andy, this breaks my heart. I don’t want to believe it, and I can’t seem to see God’s hand in that situation. Maybe he’s showing us that His love is for everyone- those that are persecuted, oppressed, and segregated are welcome in His open arms. But the thought that someone would do that makes me want to pour love on them too. Maybe. I honestly don’t know. God’s got a plan. I’m not going to pretend to understand or justify the messes in this world, but maybe He’s trying to tell us to show endless love in the presence of hate.

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