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Jewish World Review /August 17, 1998 / 25 Menachem-Av, 5758

Larry Elder

Larry Elder

Gary Coleman,
hate criminal?

"YOU BLACK PEOPLE are all alike."

After allegedly making that remark, former child actor Gary Coleman ("Different Strokes") stands accused of repeatedly striking an autograph seeker. Coleman, a 30-year-old black man, now a security guard, claims he complied with a woman's request for an autograph. But he refused a second request to personalize it. The woman allegedly insulted him, and he attacked her.

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) recently proposed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1998, giving greater federal authority to prosecute violent crimes based on "hate." Tell us, senator, is Gary Coleman guilty of a hate crime? Suppose Coleman were white?

For 1995, the FBI recorded 4,831 racial "hate" crimes, the majority committed against blacks. This number represents a drop in the bucket of all crime but gets an inordinate amount of attention.

Now authorities record over 1 million interracial crimes per year, 90 percent involving white victims and mostly black perpetrators. How many are "hate crimes"? Apparently, not many, given the meager 4,831 tally. Apparently, few black criminals mug whites out of "hate." But the other way around, well, that's different.

Here's another problem. In compiling the hate-crime statistics, the FBI places into categories the perpetrators' "bias motivation." This includes "anti-white," "anti-black" and "anti-Hispanic." But the FBI defines "offender" as either white, black, native American/native Alaskan, Asian/Pacific Islander, multiracial group and unknown. Anything missing? Well, there's no category for a Hispanic "offender." Apparently, the FBI decided that Hispanics can be hate-crime targets but not hate-crime perpetrators.


Since a "hate crime" involves psychoanalyzing the victim's mind, what about black-on-black crime? In "The Scar of Race," authors Paul M. Sniderman and Thomas Piazza note that blacks hold critical views about members of their own race. The authors asked both blacks and whites to respond to a series of statements: "Blacks are aggressive or violent"; "blacks are boastful"; "blacks are complaining"; "blacks are lazy"; and "blacks are irresponsible." Blacks answered "yes" more often than whites! Does this, Sen. Kennedy, transform an assault by a black against a black into a "hate crime"?

A retired black appellate judge attacked U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas because Thomas no longer "thinks black." A California state senator verbally lashed black anti-affirmative action proponent Ward Connorly because "He's married to a white woman. He wants to be white. He wants a colorless society. He has no ethnic pride. He doesn't want to be black ... " Suppose Messrs. Thomas and Connorly stuck up a 7-11, and shot and wounded a black clerk. Hate crime? What if Rev. Jesse Jackson shot and wounded the same clerk? Just a crime?

A black guy leaving his ATM gets smashed in the head by a brick-wielding Klansman uttering, "Death to the nigger." As far as the head goes, the operative word is not "nigger." It is "brick." Would the head hurt less had the Klansman said, "Death to the African American?"

Clinton defender James Carville recently appeared on "Meet the Press." Carville flatly stated, "I don't like Ken Starr." He said that "this is America" and he therefore didn't have to like somebody. A refreshing burst of candor. But isn't this the administration that put together a traveling race advisory board so that we can understand, get along with and start loving each other? What if a Carville-inspired character stood up at one of the everybody-hold-hands-and-love-each-other Town Hall meetings, and said, "Hey, this is America. If I want to hate blacks, and Asians, and Hispanics, that's my right." Can you say, "Call the bouncer"?

We focus attention on hate crimes. But in any given year, the country sees nearly 20,000 murders, 30,000 rapes and millions of other assorted acts of violence. Hate crimes? A fraction of 1 percent of the total.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the police recently secured an anti-gang injunction targeting the Harpy's, a 450 person gang that terrorizes residents. Some beleaguered shop owners pay as much as $150 a month for protection. People live in fear. Crimes go unreported and unsolved because of witnesses' fear of retaliation. But, rest assured, the feds intend to make those 4,831 "hate criminals" pay. So watch out, Gary Coleman.

Urban residents do not cower at night behind burglar bars fearing a David Duke carrying a Molotov cocktail. The real danger remains the thug down the street. A punk's a punk, whether motivated by hate or greed, whether the victim's the same or of a different race. Does the victim care about the perpetrator's mind-set? Call 911. Whom do you expect? A cop, or a shrink?


8/07/98: How much mea culpa?
7/24/98: ATM Al?
7/24/98: Advising the advisors
7/17/98: Camille Cosby's carelessness
7/9/98: Moses mugged
7/2/98: Al Campanis -- forever a racist?
6/25/98: And you thought "coke" was worse than smokes
6/19/98: Is Jasper ‘America'?
6/12/98: Guess who's not coming to dinner
6/5/98: What now, NOW?
5/29/98:What's next, ‘burger busters'?
5/21/98: 'Stuff' happens
5/18/98: This just in
5/11/98: Stepping up
4/30/98: Who's faking whom?
4/16/98:To spank or not to spank

©1998, Laurence A. Elder