Last week's shooting at the Holocaust Museum has made "hate crimes" a front page issue once again. It may give the stalled federal hate crimes bill the added boost it needs to become law. In James von Brunn, the media seems to have discovered its carefully created stereotype of a hate criminal: an old, bitter white man with a history of violence, who denies the Holocaust, despises non-whites and holds bizarre conspiracy theories.
The usual suspects have hustled to take advantage of their good fortune. Brian Levin (email him), a Cal State San Bernardino criminal justice professor and a "civil-rights attorney" who used to work with the Southern Poverty Law Center ($PLC), declared in a CNN.com article, Hate groups threatened by diversity:
"Yesterday, less than a mile from the White House, an old bigoted white man was suspected of firing back his response at the place where America tries to draw lessons from ... hatred. Yesterday's shooting is the latest in a series of murderous attacks by erratic far-right-wing extremist 'lone wolves' over the past three months. When shocking violence like this arises, commentators point to various factors including mental illness, political debates and the availability of guns.
"We, however, must first acknowledge the hand of a small but expanding hate movement as a potent, yet invisible, accomplice that incites and inspires society's disaffected to serve as its most violent warriors."
Levin mentions the pending hate crimes bill as "good news" near the end of his column.
Leftist blogs such as TPMCafe are exploiting the incident to push for censorship and/or punishment of views they don't like:
"Hate speech and hate crimes are sociological, not just psychological. It's ridiculous to look at one of these crimes from the shortened perspective of the point of the gun to the victim. It's much bigger than that. That's why I think it's a misconception to conclude any racist who takes someone's life 'acted alone' or is 'a lone wolf'
"Instigation is critical here. We need to make a serious assessment of those who disguise their hate speech as free speech." [When it comes to hate crimes, there's no such thing as "acting alone". June 10, 2009, 8:47PM]
But two weeks before the von Brunn shootings, The San Jose Mercury News ran a short article about a similar crime that was just as deadly as the Holocaust Museum incident.
The killers were motivated by the same type of hatred and extremism.
Yet, for some strange reason, the murder has attracted almost no attention or outrage.
In July 2007, Michael Wills, a white man, was shot and killed by two members of Your Black Muslim Bakery. As the name suggests, the bakery was a racial-nationalist outfit with ties to the Nation of Islam (the store even displayed a prominent picture of NOI founder Elijah Muhammed). Yusuf Bey IV, the leader of the now-defunct bakery, and Antoine Mackey, one of Bey's followers, were charged with shooting Wills in the head with an assault rifle.
The Mercury News article leaves no doubt as to the racial motive of the murder:
"Devaughndre Broussard, another Bey IV follower who has admitted to killing journalist Chauncey Bailey, told a prosecutor in March that Bey IV and Mackey bragged they killed Wills because of his race. The two saw him walking in North Oakland as they were discussing a string of racially motivated murders in the 1970s known as the Zebra killings.
"'They was laughing about and joking about,' Broussard said of Bey IV and Mackey.
"Mackey 'said he seen the white dude walking down the path ... then he shot him,' Broussard added.
"Bey IV later said, 'We got a devil. White people are devils,' according to Broussard's statement.
"Then Broussard said Bey IV talked about 'a devil mentality. A black man can be a devil if he's against his people.' Bey IV and his late father, bakery founder Yusuf Bey, have often, while preaching, referred to white people as 'devils.' And in telephone calls recorded from the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin and obtained by the Chauncey Bailey Project, Bey IV often made similar statements, referring to 'white and Jew devils' and 'media devils' whom he claims are trying to destroy him."[Former bakery leader accused of saying 'white people are devils' after 2007 killing, By Josh Richman and Thomas, May 26, 2009]
An open and shut case of a racially-motivated hate crime? Think again. Prosecutors are not seeking a hate crime charge against Bey IV and Mackey.
And that decision meets with the approval of those who direct race policy in America. The Mercury News article continues:
"Prosecutors tend to be very hesitant to charge hate crime cases "... because they're really, really hard to prove: You have to prove the offender's motive beyond a reasonable doubt," explained Associate Professor Phyllis Gerstenfeld, [Email her] a 'hate-crime expert' who chairs the criminal justice program at Cal State, Stanislaus. 'Hate crimes are the only criminal acts that require you to prove motive beyond a reasonable doubt... and we can't read people's minds.'"
We can't? Prosecutors had no problems reading the minds of the James Byrd and Matthew Shepherd killers. Nor are they likely to have much problem peering into von Brunn's thought process.
According to the Mercury News, a certain "civil rights attorney" agrees that hate crime charges do not make sense in this particular case.
"Why go through having to interject something that now has to be proven to a particular standard? It can be highly appropriate for (prosecutors) tactically to avoid overburdening the jury with additional items. Sometimes the cleanest, simplest case is the best."
The person making these remarks: none other than Cal State San Bernadino's Brian Levin—who had no problem lecturing us about the threat posed by "an old bigoted white man" only weeks later.
Unlike "civil rights" attorneys, the distraught Wills family wants to pursue a hate crime charge. According to Patrick Wills, younger brother of the victim:
"Everybody knows the only reason (Michael Wills) was shot was because he was white. So I don't see any reason why that (hate crime enhancement) should not be part of the charges. For it to not to be there is horrible."
Horrible or not, the decision not to pursue hate crime charges against the killers of Wills is not surprising given the race of the victim and the shooters.
But Your Black Muslim Bakery has a long history of racial violence that leaves von Brunn in the shade. Though held up as a model of black self sufficiency, the bakery was linked to widespread physical and sexual abuse, intimidation, welfare fraud, and murder. Bey IV and Mackey also had good reason to joke about the Zebra Killings as some of the killers—all black Muslims—were connected to the bakery according to Clark Howard, author of Zebra, the definitive book on the murders.[Read the first chapter (PDF)]
The Zebra Killings occurred in the San Francisco bay area between 1972 and 1974. Though seldom discussed, they are the worst case of racially-motivated serial murder in U.S. history. Carried out by black Muslims who went looking to kill "white devils", the attacks left up to 71 people dead and many injured.
Bey IV and Mackey were apparently looking to add to this legacy.
The late Sam Francis used to note that some hate crimes are more equal than others. The different reactions to the von Brunn and Your Black Muslim Bakery shootings prove that nothing has changed.
When the hate crimes bill is debated in the Senate you can be sure the names Matthew Shepard, James Byrd, James von Brunn and Stephen Johns, the black guard killed in the Holocaust Museum shooting, will be highlighted.
You can also be sure that the names Michael Wills, Yusuf Bey IV and Antoine Mackey will never be mentioned.
The hate crimes bill, if passed, will certainly stifle free speech and strengthen the thought police. It will also be yet another exercise in unequal and selective justice.
Peter Bradley[email him] writes from Washington D.C.