Monday Morning Thoughts: Cycle of Hate Continues

The Muslims in the Davis community were once again this weekend victims of a hate attack, as someone tore up the Muslim Holy Book, the Quran, scattering its pieces all over the street and in front of the Islamic Center of Davis.

To add insult to injury, this was done just as Ramadan was wrapping up.

Some undoubtedly will see a connection to the sentencing of Lauren Kirk-Coehlo who desecrated the Islamic Center in January, breaking windows and hanging bacon on the door knobs.  Last week she received five years of probation – a sentence that some complained was far too lenient.

But I tend to discount that connection here.  After all, this crime will be difficult if not impossible to catch the culprit.  In addition, there was a similar incident in Sacramento this weekend, where someone burned the Quran and attached it with handcuffs to a chain link fence in the parking lot of a Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department service center.

The department office is a direct neighbor of the Masjid Annur Islamic Center, located in South Sacramento.

Instead of pointing the finger at the efforts of Judge Dan Maguire to weigh the appropriate punishment and factor in the need to deter and the need to the protect the community in the Kirk-Coehlo case, we ought to instead look at the national climate as a guideline.

In mid-February, the Southern Poverty Law Center found, “The number of hate groups in the United States rose for a second year in a row in 2016 as the radical right was energized by the candidacy of Donald Trump.”

They found the most dramatic growth “was the near-tripling of anti-Muslim hate groups – from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year.”

They write, “The growth has been accompanied by a rash of crimes targeting Muslims, including an arson that destroyed a mosque in Victoria, Texas, just hours after the Trump administration announced an executive order suspending travel from some predominantly Muslim countries. The latest FBI statistics show that hate crimes against Muslims grew by 67 percent in 2015, the year in which Trump launched his campaign.”

Islamic leaders have criticized the White House for failing to pushback against anti-Islamic bias.

In February, Corey Saylor, a leader for CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), an Islamic Civil Rights organization, said that the group “is waiting on Trump to speak out, after a significant rise in anti-Muslim incidents over the past year.

“It is [Trump’s] duty to repudiate bias. President Bush went to a mosque to push back against anti-Islam sentiment in 2001,” Mr. Saylor told the media in a February email. “We are still waiting for President Trump to demonstrate the same leadership.”

In May, two men on a train were stabbed to death and a third critically injured as they intervened to protect two Muslim teens that a man was harassing.

It took several days, but President Trump finally spoke out.

“The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/them,” President Trump tweeted on the Monday, three days later.

However, the media was quick to point out he sent the message” on the official presidential Twitter account, @POTUS, which has 18 million followers, rather than his personal Twitter account, @RealDonaldTrump, which has more than 30 million followers.”

The president meanwhile continues to defend the Muslim ban.  In early June, he referred to his executive order on immigration as a “travel ban” and said his Justice Department should not have submitted a “watered down, politically correct version” to the Supreme Court.

The order, which temporarily restricts travel to the US from several Muslim-majority countries and was according to Mr. Trump “watered down” due to to political correctness, could hamper his administration’s legal argument that the executive order did not target Muslims.

As a candidate, Mr. Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration to the United States.

In trying to defend the order, Justice Department lawyers have gone to great lengths to avoid calling it a “travel ban” in court, referring to it as a “temporary pause” or simply “the executive order.”

Meanwhile, last week there was a report in ProPublica that “scores of federal law enforcement agencies are failing to submit statistics to the FBI’s national hate crimes database,” this “in violation of a longstanding legal mandate.”

They write, “The lack of participation by federal law enforcement represents a significant and largely unknown flaw in the database, which is supposed to be the nation’s most comprehensive source of information on hate crimes.”

“We truly don’t understand what’s happening with crime in the U.S. without the federal component,” said Amy Blasher, a unit chief at the CJIS (Criminal Justice Information Services) division, an arm of the bureau that is overseeing the modernization of its information systems.

ProPublica notes that “it’s long been clear that hundreds of local police departments don’t send data to the FBI, and so given the added lack of participation by federal law enforcement, the true numbers for 2015 are likely to be significantly higher.”

Given the national discourse as a backdrop, it should be no surprise that incidents like the one perpetrated by Ms. Kirk-Coehlo will occur.  She wrote of having “dreams and aspirations” of killing people, “I would like to kill.. many people.”

It wasn’t just Muslims either – she “made derogatory remarks using the terms ‘Jews, Mexicans and (N—–s)’ on a regular basis,” according to declarations from the police.

The inflamed rhetoric has an impact – particularly on people already potentially suffering from mental illness or on the fringes of society.

The latest incident has clearly continued to shatter the nerves and sensibilities of the Islamic community.

In the meantime, the Davis community continues to step forward.  Back in January, as many as 1000 people joined the Muslim community in prayer on a Friday afternoon in solidarity.  This week, it was reported “we had a small but great event last night.”

Community support has enabled the Islamic community to press on in the face of challenges.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. John Hobbs

    “we ought to instead look at the national climate as a guideline.”

    Yes, heaven forbid you look at the crimes in our own towns (or in the mirror) and deal with them. It is so much easier to blame Trump and the “national climate,” instead of finding and arresting the perpetrator(s) and giving them appropriate sentences that protect their victims and the rest of us, too. Maguire’s deficient sentence was certainly not going to deter anyone from committing these terrorist acts.

    “Community support has enabled the Islamic Community to press on in the face of challenges.”

    Sure, congratulate yourselves, give everyone good citizenship awards. Make sure Kirk-Coehlo gets one, so she doesn’t feel left out.

    1. Howard P

      You raise an interesting point, intentionally, or ?…

      Funny how some of the same folk who say that Davis should act on an issue first, to set an example and enlighten the rest of the country (plastic bags, straws, sugary drinks), can at the same time imply we can blame ‘national moods’ for our local problems (prejudice, intolerance, etc.) for our local inaction.

      ‘Tis a puzzlement…

      1. Tia Will

        No puzzlement at all.

        I am sure that you have all heard the expression think globally, act locally.

        I would modify that to think nationally, act locally.

  2. Keith O

     It is so much easier to blame Trump and the “national climate,” 

    Yeah, too easy to just blame Trump.  I don’t remember any articles from the Vanguard blaming Obama for the riots in Ferguson, Dallas and Baltimore because of Obama’s anti-cop rhetoric.

        1. David Greenwald

          I don’t blame him for two Davis incident, but I do believe that he has created and inflamed the climate.  I also don’t believe that Obama said anything particularly inflammatory with regards to police incidents and most of the heated rhetoric came from the activist community.

  3. Richard Keefe

    “… the Southern Poverty Law Center found, “The number of hate groups in the United States rose for a second year in a row in 2016 as the radical right was energized by the candidacy of Donald Trump.”

    First off, “hate group,” is an arbitrary term the SPLC uses for fundraising. There is no legal definition for the term, which is why even the FBI cannot designate “hate groups,” but somehow a private fundraising company can?

    Second, even if the SPLC could prove that “the radical right was energized,” whatever that means,  according to their own “Hate Map” fundraising tool, the largest category of “hate group” in the country today is Black and/or Muslim. Not your usual Trump fans.
    The company counted 201 Black and Black Muslim groups for 2016, which far outnumbers its 130 alleged Klan groups outright, and all of its alleged neo-Nazi, racist skinhead and white nationalist groups by two-to-one, respectively.

    The SPLC claims that the number of number of “hate groups” nationwide grew by 133 between 2014 and 2016. By its own accounting, 80 of those groups, or nearly two-thirds of the increase, came from Black “hate groups.” Is this the “radical right”?

    The SPLC also claims that its 101 anti-Muslim “hate groups” pose an existential threat, but nobody in the media seems to believe that the SPLC’s 89 Muslim “hate groups” are even newsworthy. That’s nearly a one-to-one ratio and yet no one is reporting on it because it doesn’t fit the narrative.

    If the SPLC are going to be your go-to “experts” then you have to accept ALL of their claims, no matter how patently ridiculous they are.

  4. Ron

    From article:  “After all, this crime will be difficult if not impossible to catch the culprit.”

    Not defending or condoning the incident, but wondering what “crime” was actually/allegedly committed (other than littering).

      1. Ron

        David:  You’re the one who used the word “crime”.  (And, no doubt, some believe that it’s an alleged crime, other than littering.)

        Are hate “incidents” necessarily subject to prosecution within the legal system?

        Reminds me of “free speech” protections, flag burning, etc.

        1. David Greenwald

          “A hate crime is a criminal act against a person or his/her property because of that person’s real or perceived race, color, religion, nationality, country of origin, disability, gender or sexual orientation. Under California law, for a crime to be considered a hate crime, a number of specific criteria must all be met as defined in the California Code. Federal law differs in certain respects from state law. In California, for a crime to be considered a “hate crime” and for the penalty enhancement provisions of the law to take effect, a prosecutor must prove that the motivation of the perpetrator in committing the crime was bias against a person or persons in a protected category, and that this bias was a “substantial factor” (and not an incidental factor) in the crime.

          “Hate incidents are considerably more common on college campuses than hate crimes. Unlike hate crimes, there is no formal legal definition for a hate incident. They are generally the same types of behaviors and crimes as described above except that one or more of the formal legal criteria described above are not met. Regardless, the victims tend to experience the same range of emotions and benefit from the same level of caring response.”

        2. Ron

          David:  Thanks for clearing that up.  It’s a very important distinction to make.

          Kind of puts a different light on your statement, regarding the “crime”, and efforts to “catch the culprit”, via the legal system.

          On a broader (societal) level, it seems that there isn’t a good understanding regarding freedom of speech on campuses, and elsewhere.

  5. Alan Miller

    Sticks and Stones may break my bones,

    But some d**kwad penning “grout out the Jews” on the grout between shower tiles — shall never hurt me.


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