And why are so few horribly brutal black on white crimes officially prosecuted as "hate crimes?"
The black cop pelted with rocks and racial epithets by white toughs with political connections. White cops who shot at a black couple for cutting them off in traffic. That white teacher whose face was rearranged by a black student with a hammer. All these and more could have been considered hate crimes. But application of the hate-crime statutes is, at bottom, highly political and therefore suspect, because politicians like to get re-elected.
How about this one:
Ionya Feldman didn't have a chance to discuss politics with Charles Dixon in 1998. Dixon was young and strong and wanted money. He found a length of firewood in the alley and entered the little shoemaker's shop and swung his club against the old man's skull, again and again.
It wasn't a hate crime because no one heard Dixon say hateful words. Although picking out an old man for a beating is hateful enough. Dixon was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, and I wrote a series of columns about the killing and the trial.
One day, in her apartment, Feldman's widow, Jane, poured tea and told me about her Ionya and asked me why her husband's death wasn't a hate crime.
And I think of how quiet it was in the apartment, the beautiful things from their old life that she had saved, crystal and plates, the light through the windows, her hands pouring tea.