To the Editor:
How can Will Youman (letters, Aug. 21) honestly deny that hate graffiti on a Kosher restaurant, or bricks thrown through a Hillel center window, or assaults on Chasidic-garbed Jews are anything but anti-Semetic hate crimes.
This denial is far more dangerous than the violent hate crimes themselves. As long as progressive communities like ours are steadfast in decrying hate crimes, the few perpetrators are marginalized and defused. But the recipe for disaster exists when the populace is willing to look the other way or to excuse the conduct as a fraternity prank or to blame the victims for “bringing it on themselves.” That is why Mr. Youman's glib legalisms are so much more dangerous than the brutal thugism that he seeks to protect.
Hate crimes attack us all. Jews, gays, Arabs, hispanics, African-Americans – anyone who is attacked because of perceived differences –share the common enemy of intolerance and need the common protection of a community that will not abide it. If Mr. Youman doesn't understand this, he needs some lessons in law and morality.
As a veteran anti-Semite and erudite law student, Mr. Youman understands the significance of denying that anti-Jewish violence qualifies as a hate crime, and blaming Jews themselves for being victims. He takes a page from Nazi Germany, whose propagandists were similarly adept at deflecting attention away from the abhorently racist nature of their conduct.
If white-sheeted thugs assaulted African Americans on College and Bancroft, nobody would excuse it as a “wild partying fraternity prank.” Similarly, if an abortion clinic were vandalized and painted as a home of “baby killers,” only the most cynical apologist would claim that the message is too “ambiguous” to warrant condemnation.
Mark I. Schickman,
president, Holocaust Center
of Northern California