All crimes are 'hate'crimes
June 12, 2008 · Updated 10:09 AM
"Even as he struggled to deal with the unspeakable grief of his brother's death, Brian Toews managed to put the tragedy in perspective for all of us.Goaded by a Tacoma newspaper reporter to call 30-year-old Erik Toews' death last week - allegedly at the hands of a group of mostly black and Hispanic youngsters - a hate crime, his brother responded, I don't believe that. I just believe these are bad kids. People who want to grab onto this and further their cause (of promoting awareness of hate crimes) are wrong. It's just plain, old evil.He's absolutely right.Last month's string of brutal muggings near Tacoma's Wright Park culminating in the death of Toews, its the ninth victim, was as shocking as it was savage. The crimes were made all the more unspeakable by the revelation that the eight youths arrested in connection with the attacks ranged in age from 19 to just 11.Psychologists could write volumes about the callous disregard for human life demonstrated by the perpetrators of these despicable acts, and how they came to acquire it. The grandmother of one of the suspects blamed the muggings on boredom - a rationalization so audacious it staggers the imagination.Equally unfathomable was how eight other victims could have been viciously assaulted, apparently by the same youthful gang, over a period of two weeks without Tacoma's Police seeing a pattern - and issuing a warning to residents not to walk near the park late at night.To the extent race played any role in this sorry episode at all, it wasn't in the commission of the crimes, but in how the news media covered them. Although the suspects ultimately arrested for the beatings included five blacks, one Hispanic and two whites, the eight earlier victims - all of whom were white - remembered only the black and Hispanic attackers. Had there been reports that a marauding gang of white youngsters was prowling the park late at night beating only blacks, it's easy to imagine the muggings becoming a national story. As it was, nothing was even published until Toews was hospitalized with massive head injuries and died after six days in a coma.Which only serves to underscore the fundamental flaw in the concept of so-called hate crimes. Whether Erik Toews had been beaten to death for the color of his skin or for the change in his pockets, he'd be just as dead- and his attackers equally deserving of the harshest penalty the law can mete out. To suggest Toews' death would be any more meaningful had the racial identities of the victim and perpetrators been reversed is to make a mockery of justice - and the grief of the Toews family - for the sake of politics.As Brian Toews so eloquently points out, all crimes are hate crimes. Where crime is concerned, it isn't a question of politics or race relations; it's about right and wrong and good versus evil. "