Hate crimes are a hot topic in the Trump era. Here’s a piece I wrote 19 years ago that was published in the Washington Times and (probably) syndicated by Knight Ridder News Service. The government can never commit a “hate crime” against private citizens because federal agents are almost always presumed to have good intentions to the people they assault.
Washington Times, September 29, 2000
President Clinton is vociferously pressuring Congress to enact new hate crime legislation. Mr. Clinton repeatedly talks as if such a law would be the only thing standing between the United States and a tidal wave of barbarism. However, there is a double standard which effectively exempts the government itself from such legislation.
Mr. Clinton frequently evokes the issue of hate crimes in fund-raising speeches. In a Beverly Hills speech last Oct. 2, Mr. Clinton announced that hate is “America’s largest problem… . We cannot be under the illusion that either material prosperity or technological breakthroughs alone can purge the darkness in our hearts. Last Oct. 19, Mr. Clinton announced that hate crimes were “the biggest challenge facing” the nation and the world. By raising hate crimes to the top of the problem list, all political and governmental abuses are put in the shadows.
The key to hate crimes is the intent whether someone selected his victim based on race, ethnicity, religious belief, etc. Ironically, it is also an “intent test” that creates a de facto exemption for federal employees to violate the rights of American citizens and others. Most federal laws require that a federal agent be shown to have had an intent to violate citizens’ rights before the agent can be held personally liable for action that harmed people. Because the federal government is the final judge of the intentions of its employees, it is practically impossible for a federal agent to have acted maliciously or hatefully when carrying out his official duties.
Consider how the Clinton administration would have reacted if some of its own actions had been committed by private citizens with bad motives: