- Despite lingering concerns about threats to Constitutional
protections such as freedom of religion and freedom of speech, the Federal
Hate Crimes bill, HR 1913, passed recently in the House of Representatives.
- If passed by the Senate, the legislation will expand
the federal definition of such crimes to include those motivated by gender
identity and permit increased federal power to investigate and prosecute
crimes as "hate crimes." The meat of the hate crimes bill is
a $10 million grant for the establishment of a federally funded surveillance
- Rep. Virginia Foxx (R, NC) argued HR 1913 would move
America "down a slippery slope" to loss of freedom as has happened
in Canada and Europe, where imprisonment for "thought crimes"
has become a regular occurrence.
- Susan Fani of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil
Rights warns: "The problem in general with hate crimes legislation
is that it invites the government to probe way beyond motive. And in instances
like this, it trespasses on free speech and religious liberty."
- Although the bill "declares that nothing in this
Act shall be construed to prohibit the exercise of Constitutionally-protected
free speech," it sets a dangerous precedent of punishing motivations
rather than actions because the actions - stalking, assault, etc. - are
- Anisa Abd el Fattah, President of National Association
of Muslim American Women (NAMAW) points out: "Before our Congress
passes such a law there are many questions to be answered, the most important
of which is 'who' will decide that a given act is a 'hate crime'?"
- The Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL) originally wrote
this bill. Arab, Latino and African-American organisations support it because
they hope that prosecuting "hate" will decrease racist attacks
on their communities. Serious fears exist, however, about the government
surveillance centre, given the highly politicised nature of hate crimes
- The ADL, along with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC),
is already heavily involved in Homeland Security's locally based "fusion
centres," which collect personal data for intelligence databases that
synchronise national intelligence collection with local police.
- ADL and SPLC have a record of illegally spying on American
citizens and providing false information to law enforcement officials.
- A fusion centre in Missouri recently distributed an "intelligence"
document on "hate groups" to local police, which was written
by the ADL and the SPLC. It instructed the police to look for Americans
who were concerned about unemployment, taxes, illegal immigration, gangs,
border security, abortion, high costs of living, gun restrictions, FEMA,
the IRS, and the Federal Reserve, as well as supporters of third party
presidential candidates! Mainstream Christian organisations that espouse
a traditional orthodox view of homosexuality were lumped into a list filled
with violent neo-Nazis and skinheads while Roman Catholic institutions
were singled out as "encouraging anti-Semitism and ethnic and religious
chauvinism." The report also predictably vilified religiously observant
Muslims and anti-war activists.
- "There is no level of hate crime that is acceptable-period,"
says Dan Stein, President of Federation for American Immigration Reform
(FAIR). "However, the SPLC's calculated abuse of the term 'hate group'
and manipulation of hate crime data for self-serving political interests
is an affront to hate crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf."
- The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission declared, "If
we were to apply the same twisted logic of the SPLC to the SPLC, it would
have to label itself as a hate group because they are intolerant of conservative
Christians." Similarly, Hussein Ibish, a secular Arab-American lobbyist,
could be charged with inciting hate crimes targeting Muslims and political
activists, his compilation of anti-Arab hate crimes statistics for the
Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) aside.
- Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic
Society of North America (ISNA), and the Muslim Public Affairs Council
(MPAC) expressed concern about how the fusion system has been "monitoring
the legal activities of American Muslims exercising their constitutional
privileges" and the "use of McCarthy-era tactics, most notably
dissemination of Islamophobic analysis by federally-funded
- 'fusion centres' to local law enforcement agencies."
- Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), a citizens
group in Missouri, issued a national advisory to all local, state and Federal
law enforcement agencies and officers, including all DHS fusion centres,
"warning against any reliance upon faulty and politicised research
issued by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Anti Defamation League
(ADL)" that "cast suspicion on millions of Americans."
- Governor Peter Kinder took the advisory seriously and
is now engaging in damage control.
- He issued a public apology to Presidential candidates
Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and Chuck Baldwin, and placed Missouri Public Safety
Director John Britt on administrative leave pending an investigation of
the absurd report.
- America's problems with intolerance do not result from
the absence of hate crime laws but originate in structural problems associated
with bigotries of government officials, and often involve conspiracies
- Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based writer on Middle East
affairs and US politics. She is Director of the Division on Muslim Civil
Rights and Liberties for the National Association of Muslim American Women