For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. — President Washington’s Letter to the Jewish Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island
In yesterday’s post on this subject I referenced that 98 US Senators had signed onto a letter decrying anti-Semitism.
Senators decry 'accelerating' anti-Semitic threats in bipartisan plea https://t.co/syh6Hm08Do
— POLITICO (@politico) March 7, 2017
Yesterday White House Spokesman Sean Spicer made the following statement at his press conference:
“I want to acknowledge that there’s been an additional wave of threats to Jewish community centers and Anti-Defamation League offices,” Spicer told reporters at a press briefing on Tuesday.
“I share the president’s thoughts that he vehemently hopes that we don’t continue to have to share these reports with you. But as long as they do continue, we’ll continue to condemn them and look at ways in which we can stop them,” he said.
Today the Jewish Community Center Association of North America called on Attorney General Sessions to:
“We are frustrated with the progress in resolving this situation,” the letter reads in part. “We insist that all relevant federal agencies, including your own, apply all the resources available to identify and bring the perpetrator or perpetrators, who are trying to instill anxiety and fear in communities across the country, to justice.”
“JCCs have demonstrated incredible resilience over the past several weeks, relying on long-practiced measures to ensure that we can safely and effectively serve communities across the continent. We will not allow anti-Semitism to get in the way of our providing our invaluable programs, and we urge Attorney General Sessions to be an even stronger partner to us.”
The full text of the letter can be found here.
While the letter signed by all 100 Senators, Democratic and Republican, and the White House statement are appropriate, they are, frankly, insufficient. They are insufficient because this is not just an issue of harassment and violence directed at Jewish Americans. There has been an increase in attacks against religious and ethnic minorities, as well as LGBTQ Americans of all religions and ethnicities since the election. Churches with predominantly Hispanic and LatinX or immigrant congregants are being targeted. As we’ve documented here several times, Indian Americans – whether Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, or Christian – are being targeted. LGBTQ Americans are being targeted.
A man shouting antigay slurs attacked two men at a restaurant in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of New York City in the early morning hours on Sunday, leaving one man stabbed and the other with a slashed face.
Gothamist said that police are looking for the suspect, whose face was briefly caught on surveillance video before he attacked the other men and fled.
The New York City Police Department said that the unidentified suspect entered Crown Fried Chicken at about 5 a.m. on Sunday and attacked a 34-year-old man with “a cutting instrument” while shouting antigay slurs.
After slashing the man’s face, the suspect stabbed a second man in the torso and slashed his shoulder, still hurling insults and homophobic invective.
Here’s the surveillance video (does not include violence) of the alleged perpetrator (h/t RawStory)
The response is also insufficient because the only significant change over the past several months is the election and inauguration of the President. There hasn’t been a spike in unemployment. The stock market hasn’t crashed. There hasn’t been a major national disaster with effects that could possibly be correlated with these incidents. There hasn’t been a foreign inspired/orchestrated attack on Americans within the US. The US and its coalition partners are winning the fight against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Every possible indicator we would even conceivably consider as an explanatory variable to explain the increase in hate crimes, stochastic violence, and to be very precise in the terminology, domestic terrorism* is the election and the inauguration.
Now I want to be very, very, very, very clear: I am not accusing the President of being an anti-Semite. Or a racist. Or anti-Muslim. Or a bigot of any kind. And that’s why the letter signed by all 100 Senators and Sean Spicer’s statements are insufficient. It is insufficient because it doesn’t matter at all whether the President or anyone who works for him and with him are any of these things. The leadership and much of the membership of the various Klan, neo-NAZI, white supremacist, white nationalist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim (Islamophobic), anti-immigrant (legal and/or undocumented) groups and organizations have all come out in support of the President and his agenda. Many of them, both leaders and members, have stated that the President’s message speaks directly to them. That he has been the biggest boon to their recruiting and activities in decades. That what he says and what he is proposing doing/is doing is what they both think needs to be done and what they want to see done in the US.
It is this sad, unfortunate reality that makes the official Senatorial and Administration responses insufficient. A sufficient response would include the President giving a prime time address denouncing all of the increase in hate crimes, stochastic violence, and low level domestic terrorism* directed at American religious and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ Americans, immigrants, and visitors to America in no uncertain terms. Additionally he should make it clear in such an address that these types of activities are un-American and are intolerable to Americans of good conscience regardless of political party affiliation, ideology, religion, and ethnicity. Finally, he should create a Federal Law Enforcement Task Force to investigate and prosecute the sharp increase in hate crimes, stochastic violence, and low level domestic terrorism since his election and inauguration. This would be sufficient. Every other response is simply fluff.
* Domestic terrorism is defined in 18 U.S. Code § 2331. The relevant part has been emphasized.
(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;(B) appear to be intended—(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.