Take a good look at the face of hate. This is Mbarek Lafrem, a Moroccan citizen who nearly beat a pediatric nurse to death in a New York City nightclub last month after she had the temerity to refuse to dance with him. The nurse suffered multiple head wounds, including a skull fracture, broken eye socket, and shattered nose. She was beaten around the face. She was also attacked sexually: Lafrem is charged with attempted rape. And attempted murder, because the attack was so severe.
This is called overkill. So why isn’t it being prosecuted as a hate crime?
Mbarek Lafram was at first so unconcerned about raping and nearly killing a woman that he found his legal predicament funny. He laughed and mugged for the reporters. He announced that he was the real victim, that his victim was actually the aggressor.
Later, perhaps after some lawyer apprised him of the fact that women are permitted to refuse to dance with men without being beaten to death as punishment, he changed his tune. “I wouldn’t want that to happen to my sisters,” he said. Well, that’s nice. I wouldn’t want it to happen to anyone’s sisters. What he did is what ought to matter, not to whom it was done.
But in today’s increasingly identity-politics-saturated justice system, to whom you do something is precisely the thing that matters the most.
Why isn’t the New York City hate crimes squad on this case? What, precisely, is the difference between this assault and the gay bashing outside a bar in Carroll Gardens a week earlier that spurred mass demonstrations, immediate hate crime charges, vehement outcry from elected officials (see below), and all the rest of the activist groundswell that arises when it’s anyone except a woman who gets randomly attacked? The attack on the nurse resulted in far graver injuries, but the politicians and activists behaved as if the gay bashing was the more serious crime.
Will Bill DeBalsio stand outside Mbarek Lafram’s trial holding a little candle in a cup? How about John Liu? Don’t count on it. Some victims are just more important than other victims, thanks to the ways hate crime laws have warped the entire legal and political landscape.
Hate crime activists have long been given the power to influence who’s in and who’s out as victims of hate. Unsurprisingly, given the results, these are the same activists who machinated quietly for years to ensure that women don’t get called victims of hate, or officially counted as victims of hate, not even in states where “gender-bias” is on the books (including New York). Their reason? They don’t want the vast numbers of women who are assaulted “in part or in full” because they are female “overwhelming” the all-important hate crime statistics.
By design (a design kept firmly behind closed doors), the “gender bias” category is used almost exclusively in cases with victims who are transvestites or transgendered. Biologically-born females don’t count.
These activists get away with denying that “hate means hate” when it’s directed at a woman largely because the N.O.W. and other feminist groups have long provided them political cover, despite occasional press releases like this one that contradict decades of tacit institutional support for reserving the “gender bias” category for non-females like transvestites. Don’t expect the ladies of New York City N.O.W. to utter a peep about hate crime charges in the Mbarek Lafram case. Heck, don’t expect them to even mention the case.
They know their place.
All three of the recent crimes being labeled “hate crimes” and widely denounced in New York City are minority-on-minority, though you wouldn’t know it from the speeches being made by politicians.
The media carefully avoided describing the Carroll Gardens gay bashers as Latino youth, but one gay publication on the scene, Lez Get Real, reports that the police are seeking Latino suspects.
That would make it an Hispanic-on-gay hate crime. Only in reality, it does not, because hate crime activists have also made sure that the “Hispanic” category is only used to describe victims of hate crime, not perpetrators of hate crime. This is part of the federal reporting rules, thanks to Eric Holder, who was instrumental in drafting them. When so-called “hate” perpetrators are Hispanic, they are officially counted as “white.” But when they are the victims, they aren’t “white” but “Hispanic.”
On cue, some early commenters on the Carroll Gardens crime laid blame for the attack on white “xenophobes.” They don’t know how wrong (and, thanks to hate crime laws, right) they are: officially, the crime will be recorded as white-on-gay. This useful fiction provides the press and activists with yet another tool to perpetuate the message that “hate” is synonymous with “young white males.” In other settings, this is called “prejudice,” but within the hate crimes movement, it is called “justice.”
Predictably, such Balkanization and politicization of the law begets not tolerance but more Balkanization and politicization in society — and even internalized Balkanization among individual members of society who find one portion of their identities more politically salient than the other parts. The Lez Get Real writer, for example, contemplates the problem of ethnic-minority on sexual-minority crime in her column, worried that one movement is trumping the other, but she doesn’t have a thing to say about the fact that she, as a woman, is in practice excluded from hate crime protections — that she would only “count” as a gay victim, not a female one. People attach to the group that gives them the best status, and this perpetuates divisiveness and identity-mongering, precisely what the American legal system is not supposed to do.
Here is Lez Get Real‘s unintentionally ironic take-away from Carroll Gardens:
[T]he man was attacked last Tuesday morning at Luquer Street and Hamilton Avenue as he left a gay and lesbian party at a bar, about 12:50 a.m. on March 2. Police say, the attackers, called the victim a “faggot” and punched him numerous times in the face, knocking him down and causing him to suffer a gash on the back of his head . . . The only description of the five men is that they are all Latino. Luckily, there is surveillance video taken outside the bar that will hopefully lead the police to the attackers identities. City officials, including out lesbian Christine Quinn, gave statements that refer to the diversity of Carroll Gardens as a strength of the neighborhood.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said: “Something like this that still happens in the city of New York is terribly upsetting,” Quinn said. “We’re a city where diversity is our greatest strength.” City Council Member Brad Lander said: “Carroll Gardens is a diverse community. We have no room for hate in our community. We embrace every race, religion and sexual orientation. We will not tolerate hate and violence in Carroll Gardens or anywhere else in New York City.”
However, it is possible that in this case, diversity has worked against the LBGT community. When you mix different backgrounds and cultures, you also mix together people who may not accept each other’s values and lifestyles. It’s sad but true, diversity is not a panacea to violence and intolerance. Diversity is the first step, but it is not the last. There should be community programs in place to educate people on the importance of tolerance, acceptance and peace. Let’s all hope for the victim’s speedy recovery and for increased tolerance towards the LGBT community.
Yes, that’s what we need, more “tolerance education,” which, in practice, highlights and exacerbates the very differences Lez worries about here — differences hate crime laws then actually institutionalize. Wouldn’t simple equality before the law send a stronger message?
And as for Christine Quinn, here is what the female city council member had to say about the gender-hate attack on the nurse by Mbarek Lafram:
” ” Update, see below
Here is what Quinn had to say about the other 109 murders, 290 rapes, and 3500 felony assaults that have occurred in New York City since the first of the year:
She did hold press conferences to speak out about the two other offenses being called “hate crimes, which include a recent spate of attacks by young black girls and boys on older Asian women living in public housing projects, and a brutal attack and robbery of a Mexican immigrant by a group of three black youths and a Hispanic youth. What, precisely, triggered the hate crimes charge in the robbery and beating of a Hispanic by another Hispanic? Reportedly, calling the victim “a [expletive] Mexican” and “a stupid Mexican” while beating him.
And if you believe that women aren’t showered with sexist expletives when they get raped, robbed, hassled on subways, threatened in parks, beaten and battered throughout New York City every single day, in crimes Christine Quinn et. al. won’t call hate, then I have a bridge to sell you that you can then cross in a futile attempt to escape the mounting insanity of identity politics justice.
Hate crime laws destroy the very notion of equal protection. They’re antithetical to real justice. Still, so long as these laws are on the books, there is no excuse for not applying them to men who attack women, no matter what Attorney General Eric Holder, city council member Christine Quinn, and others think.
Even if such crimes actually do end up “overwhelming” other crimes labeled “hate.”
Ironically, while the five youths who attacked the Asian women are charged with anti-Asian and not gender bias crimes, local news media, apparently having trouble illustrating the concept of “anti-Asian hate,” resorted to showing the traditional symbol of womanhood as the backdrop for their news stories:
But in this context, the image is officially incoherent, for, according to hate crime authorities and movement activists, the crimes had nothing to do with the gender of the victims. Legally, too, under hate crimes law they have nothing to do with targeting women, though all the victims are female and doubtlessly chosen because they are female every bit as much as they were chosen because they are Asian.
In a world without hate crime laws, such distinctions would hold their proper place: apparent, appalling, but not relevant in a court of law. With the existence of hate crime laws, however, the law itself institutionalizes untruths and partial truths, such as: The victims were chosen because they are Asian, but not because they are female. Once you deem “prejudiced intent” to be all-important — but only some prejudices — then you are declaring to the world that those other prejudices aren’t important after all, regardless of the body count they inspire.
Some people, of course, would certainly agree.
Update#1: I received a message from Eunic Ortiz, in New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s Office:
I just wanted to reach out with a bit of helpful information, but first introduce myself. My name is Eunic, I work in Speaker Christine C. Quinn’s press office and handle press for her surrounding hate crimes and LGBT/Women’s issues along with a few other colleagues in my office. I noticed there was an error in “Why Isn’t Mbarek Lafrem Being Charged With a Hate Crime?”. The Speaker has long been out front on issues surrounding violence against women and ways to combat hate crimes . . . The Speaker put out statements, her district office worked closely with the precinct from the moment we found out about this incident and we held a press conference and flyered throughout Hell’s Kitchen to find the man who committed this vile crime. The perp was turned in just hours after we saturated the streets of Hell’s Kitchen with flyers that had a sketch and description of the suspect passed out by the Speaker, Council Members and staff.
The Speaker does not stand for nor has tolerance for anyone who commits such acts.
Again, if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call.
Ms. Ortiz covers “hate crimes and LGBT/Women’s issues.” Note that “LGBT issues” undoubtedly encompasses “hate crimes.” The same certainly cannot be presumed about “Women’s issues” and “hate crime.” Not that Ms. Ortiz says so, in so many words, or even one word: she says precisely nothing about it, though that is the blog post’s subject.
Interestingly, however, Ms. Ortiz does not dispute my characterization of Speaker Quinn as being among those who quietly support the practice of excluding women from being counted as victims of gender bias — so that, God forbid, they don’t start demanding equal treatment and end up cluttering the all-important hate crime statistics with their harassed and slandered and beaten and raped bodies.
As per page 10 in the hate crimes playbook, Ms. Ortiz carefully says absolutely nothing that would indicate her boss’ stand on counting or not counting women as hate crime victims — and specifically victims of gender bias.
What would happen if the public were to look too closely at the ways these laws are enforced, and deployed, and reserved for special interest groups? Might the entire “hate crimes” movement be imperiled, just as it is imperiled to the point of collapse now in Canada, after just a little light was cast on practices there? Silence is crucial in order to avoid uncomfortable debate.
For it really is ugly, the insistence that one murder is “worse” than another — that one slur word thrown with a punch does worlds of harm, while another slur is just, well, irrelevant. “Dyke” uttered by a rapist is grounds for enhanced bias crime sentencing; “bitch” thrown at a heterosexual rape victim is not. At what point does somebody point out that the parsing is appalling?
Hate crimes prosecutions are pure politics. As special interest groups — illegal immigrants here, homeless people there — jostle for predominance, crimes against people from those groups are systematically declared “worse” in the pages of the New York Times and the press offices of identity politics-playing pols.
And that shrill claim “worse” is beginning, middle, and end of debate. “Don’t let anybody tell you hate crimes aren’t worse: they are worse,” Attorney General Eric Holder is wont to holler whenever the subject of hate crimes comes up. That’s all he says, whether he’s testifying in Congress or speaking to the public. The hate crimes establishment uses shouting and silence, never reason or debate, to address any retrograde who dares to ask: Excuse me, is that murder really “worse” than this murder?
Silence is necessary to keep the hate crimes racket rolling.
Ms. Ortiz is absolutely right about one thing: she is right that I was wrong not to check the Speaker’s website before writing that Quinn didn’t comment on the Mbarek Lafram attack. I usually check press releases, and I utterly failed to do so in this case: Christine Quinn did issue a press release condemning Lafram’s crime, and she also held a press conference. But it is disingenuous to imply that holding a press conference is the same thing as demanding that the city treat the crime as the most serious type on the books: as a hate crime. Ms. Quinn quite specifically avoided doing that, as she does in every case in which the bias is bias against women.
Of course, nobody is accusing the Speaker of standing for or tolerating violent crime. I’m accusing her of playing politics by endorsing hate crimes investigations in certain cases and remaining silent on the identical hate evident in others. I’m accusing her of using these laws, not for justice for every New Yorker, or to actually combat hate “wherever it happens,” but to advance the interests of an activist class that views these laws as their fiefdom.
So in the interest of starting up a real discussion about the selective uses of hate crime laws, I sent Ms. Ortiz a list of questions that actually address the subject of women and hate crime. Here they are:
- Does Speaker Quinn believe that the “gender bias” category of New York’s hate crimes law is being applied fairly regarding females, that is, in every case in which a female crime victim is targeted “in part or in full” because she is female, is subjected to sexist or misogynistic language in the course of an attack, or is attacked in ways designed to humiliate her as a woman?
- Does Speaker Quinn agree that the “gender bias” category of hate crimes codes is currently being reserved for crimes committed against transvestites, transgendered people, and cross-dressers, not biologically-born women?
- Does Speaker Quinn agree that Mbarek Lafrem should be charged with a hate crime? If not, why not?
- Does Speaker Quinn agree that the offenders charged with ethnic-bias hate crimes in the attacks on five Asian women should also be charged with gender-bias hate crimes for targeting victims who are all women? If not, why not?
- Does Speaker Quinn agree that every incident of gender-based subway and street harassment should be treated as potential hate crimes against women and investigated by the city’s hate crimes department? If not, why not?
- Does Speaker Quinn agree that every sexual assault of a woman should be treated as a gender bias hate crime and subject to hate crime sentencing enhancement? If not, why not?
Hopefully, I’ll receive an answer soon.