Hate is blind

Nov 7, 2001 at 12:00 am

Following a recent Metro Times story about the post-attack backlash against Arabs and Muslims in our community, we received an anguished e-mail from Neleen Chandra of Detroit, pointing out that members of the Indian community, both Hindus and Sikhs, have also been subject to harassment. By the end of last month, the Justice Department had opened more than 200 investigations into hate crimes following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, including an unspecified number against Indians. In Mesa, Ariz., a Sikh man was slain.

“Many women were afraid to wear traditional Indian clothes like the sari and shalwar-kamiz (shirt, trouser and long scarf) outside the house. Now many Indians who just happen to look Arabic are also being targeted by ignorant people,” Chandra wrote. His family had been subject to “hostile or unfriendly glances,” he wrote. And in a subsequent phone conversation he recounted an incident in which it seemed a driver had tried to hit him while he crossed a parking lot.

News Hits thinks this is a) a good time to revisit the issue of national hate crime legislation, and b) a good time to revisit the contents of state hate crime laws. News Hits also thinks lawmakers should consider a stupidity clause. That would be an extra penalty for yahoos who compound the ignorance of bigotry with ignorance of who they are, in fact, attacking.

W. Kim Heron, Metro Times' managing editor, contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]