The Washington Post is currently running a series by Michael E. Miller and Steven Rich outlining the lack of prosecution of hate crimes in D.C. This is not the big story of last week, but perhaps when you look a bit below the surface it is the big problem of early 21st century America. It is certainly one of the biggest. Let’s explore.
While a minority, there is nonetheless a considerable portion of the white population of America that fears “the other”. It is difficult to get them to publically admit it but they want a country dominated by white, heterosexual, cisgender, Christian, land owning males. They laugh at anyone not conforming to that definition; their laughter is a device to mask their fear. Especially the less educated who meet that definition fear that they will lose what they perceive as their deserved advantage in America. I commonly call these people Bubba. They feel that by being born white males and conforming to the other “requirements” they are entitled to a job and a middle class life.
Aside from the Christian part of it I qualify under the definition. (Many would consider me a Christian because I was raised in and baptized into a Christian denomination. I feel the most accurate description of my religious beliefs is agnostic.) By virtue of my education – both inside and outside the classroom – I do not consider myself inherently superior to or more entitled than any other person. Unlike Bubba, I embrace, not fear, diversity.
Many have sat on the sidelines for decades thinking the system screwed them and they were not getting what in their minds they were entitled to. In 2015 along came Donald Trump who spoke to them and shared their prejudices. In 2016 they helped elect him thinking he was one of them. Trump was never one of them. In fact he and his kind hated them almost as much as they hated “the others”. Trump and his minions feel that Bubba is just another target for them to exploit.
Trump is racially prejudice and xenophobic. He also knows he has to keep Bubba in his political base and motivate him to show up at the polls in 2020 to have any chance of reelection. Trump’s donors and his fat cat followers need a group to economically exploit. One of the best ways to continue the supply of exploitables is to keep them down by making them “less equal”. It is like the Animal Farm line, “All animals are equal but pigs [in this case Trump and his inner circle] are more equal.”
The District of Columbia is unique in many ways one of which is that it is the only jurisdiction in America where the federal attorney prosecutes hate crimes. In 2018 there were 204 crimes that the D.C. Police department investigated as hate crimes. Of those they made 59 arrests. The remainder were cases where they were either unable to make an arrest or the crime was considered not to be a hate crime. Jessie K. Liu, the Trump appointed United States District Attorney for the District of Columbia, chose to prosecute 3 cases as hate crimes and swiftly dropped the charges in one of those three cases. That means that if you committed a crime in D.C. motivated by hatred of a member of the LGBTQ community, a member of a religious community, or because of someone’s race there was a less than 1.5% chance of facing charges in court. Turn the numbers around and you had a better than 98.5% chance of getting away with it.
San Francisco is similar in size to D.C. In 2018 there were 70 hate crimes investigated by the San Francisco Police Department. 23 or 32.9% of those ended up being prosecuted as hate crimes.
D.C. is a unique example but it shows what a hate motivated America will be like if we let Trump and his kind rule. I don’t see America succeeding as it becomes a majority minority country when 98.5% of the time what will be a majority of its citizens are not protected by the law.
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