Tuesday, August 21, 2012

America Ignorantly Prides Itself on Its Ability to Identify Hate Crimes

Once again, reading the news is reminding me of Russ Lee’s “Living Life Upside Down” lyrics.

The chorus goes:

What if we’ve fallen to the bottom of a well thinking we’ve risen to the top of a mountain?
What if we’re knocking at the gates of hell thinking we’re heaven bound?
What if we spend our lives thinking of ourselves when we should have been thinking of each other?
What if we reach up and touch the ground to find we’re living life upside down?

The rest of the lyrics are just as provocative and well worth the read. Despite the fact that the song was written decades ago, it’s even more relevant today than when it first debuted.

We really are calling right wrong and wrong a right with a perception that’s so skewed, it would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad. And what’s worse, we pride ourselves on our skewed interpretations!

For example, according to a New York section of CBS News, “Police are investigating an unusual bias crime on Staten Island.

“Muslims who gathered for prayer to celebrate the end of Ramadan in a city park found bacon scattered on the ground, CBS 2’s John Slattery reported Monday.

“With Ramadan ending this past weekend, Muslims celebrated the end of fasting with prayer. On Staten Island an outdoor service was held Sunday on a New Dorp football field, attracting some 1,500 Muslims.

“But before most of the faith arrived for Morning Prayer, it was discovered that someone had scattered a quantity of raw bacon on the field.”

And because Muslims don’t eat bacon, this disrespectful stunt is being labeled ahate crime.

No offense to Muslims, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly – who decried the act as “a bias event” – and the “Hate Crime Task Force” that made the determination, but this is utterly ridiculous.

Was it wrong? Of course! And the perpetrator deserves a stint in the pokey or some serious community service for his act of vandalism.

But moving hate crimes (which are a ridiculous characterization in the first place, since most crimes aren’t exactly committed out of peace, love and good will to all mankind) from encompassing acts of physical violence to including acts of vulgar stupidity turns the term into even more of a joke than it already is.

It seems to me that the expression was first coined to makes Americans and the rest of the west feel better about living comparatively cushy lives when there’s so much unbridled hatred elsewhere, as evidenced by the crucifixions of political dissidents in Egypt, which I detailed in yesterday’s blog.

Or how about the 11-year-old Christian girl accused of burning Koran pages in Pakistan? Police arrested the child and took her parents into “protective custody,” while a large angry mob of Muslim men set fire to the houses of other Christians in the neighborhood in retaliation.

I’m not saying that Americans aren’t capable of hatred, because we certainly are. But I am saying that we’re altering our perception of reality in order to live our lives the way that we want, sans guilt or serious consideration of less comfortable topics.

Just like the song says: “We’re knocking at the gates of hell thinking we’re heaven bound.”

And all we need to do is keep on knocking to find out just how desperately wrong we are.

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