Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"I Hate You, You Hate Me..."

Gov. Rod Blagojevich has appointed a commission on hate crimes in the great state of Illinois, only to see it collapse in angry recriminations. The controversy involves whether those composing a report on “hate” are themselves “haters.”

It all began when one commission member, Sister Claudette Marie Muhammad of the Nation of Islam tribe, invited other commission members to hear a lecture by Louis Farrakhan. The speech was apparently garden-variety stuff from Rev. Farrakhan, that is to say nutty stuff about Jews. Here he is expounding on how Hollywood works, according to the excerpt from this source:

"These false Jews promote the filth of Hollywood that is seeding the American people. It's the wicked Jews, the false Jews, that are promoting lesbianism, homosexuality. It's wicked Jews, false Jews, that make it a crime for you to preach the word of God, then they call you homophobic."


The plot thickened when several commission members from the Jewish tribe resigned in part because Ms Muhammad refused to renounce either, depending on the telling, Mr. Farrakhan or his remarks. Commission member Rick Garcia, who apparently represents the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/etc. tribe via an organization called Equality Illinois, said that Ms Muhammad was in fact a valuable commission member and that all members of his tribe would remain there. But another putative tribal spokesman, Rick Ingram of Stonewall Democrats, indicated she had to go, telling the Windy City Times that "[w]hen you combine her ridicule of her critics with her refusal to repudiate Farrakhan’s speech, it leaves us no choice but to conclude that she is in agreement, and there is no room on the Commission for anyone who represents a position advocating hate." Ms Muhammad has previously been quoted as pronouncing the whole controversy "ridiculous."

One almost pities Gov. Blagojevich for the mess he finds himself in -- you can't keep track of who hates whom without a scorecard. Almost pities, but not quite. The uproar is an eminently just punishment for his signing on to the agenda of tribal conflict, which places the imprimatur of the state on the notion that we are all doomed to squabble along tribal lines, and on the related notion that only Father Government, with his mighty, all-powerful commissions and hate-crimes laws, can guide us to peace. Indeed, Gov. Blagojevich himself almost assumed the role of the disappointed parent when he offered to mediate the grievances of his squabbling children.

This is all bunk. The only thing the government can do with respect to tribal grievances, beyond insuring that all tribal groups are equal before the law, is to aggravate them. Government is substantially about dispensing favors to various pressure groups, and as I have argued previously, the more such favors are dispensed on grounds of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, etc., the more people will emphasize those characteristics when they are in the civic arena and the more intractable those differences will become.

The best thing Gov. Blagojevich could do to promote harmony among his state’s many tribal groups is to disband his commission immediately. The whole notion of hate crimes is based on a disturbing premise, that injuring or killing someone over his tribal identity is worse than injuring or killing him because, say, you want to steal his wallet. It is the injuring and killing that the state ought to deter, not the particular reason for the injuring or killing. There is an entire cottage industry devoted to documenting hate crimes, even though the criteria used are completely arbitrary. Is it a hate crime when someone seeks a victim of a particular race to rob? Will the police so classify it? Is it a hate crime when a convenience store owned by a racial or religious minority is vandalized? The industry devoted to documenting such instances and leveraging them into government payoffs via commissions, special tax privileges or government spending and the like has every incentive to say so, and every reason to be first in line to claim the valuable prize of official certification as a “hated” group. These commissions and the legislative remedies they generate will worsen the tensions among our rapidly multiplying tribes. The cliché is half-right: our diversity can be our strength, but so too in a society with a tribally obsessed state can it be our eternal curse.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Libertarian Jason said...

I'm wondering... will we see a blog entry from you regarding the Fed's decision to no longer report M3, so that they may diguise their counterfeiting much easier?

3:13 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

I may post at some point about the virtues and faults of privately supplied money. What was the Fed's rationale?

12:56 PM  

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