Friday, November 14, 2008

A very sad story . . . and a very sad reaction

CNN's Ruben Navarrette, Jr. discusses a terrible story about a group of teenage boys in Patchougue, NY, who allegedly decided to go "beaner jumping."

The bullies found 37-year-old Marcello Lucero, who was attacked, beaten and stabbed to death. The alleged assailants include Jeffrey Conroy, Jordan Dasch, Anthony Hartford, Nicholas Hausch, Jose Pacheco, and Kevin Shea, all 17, and Christopher Overton, 16.

As the person who authorities allege stabbed Lucero, Conroy is charged with first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime. The others are charged with first-degree gang assault.

According to Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer, all seven "admitted their involvement ... in this crime." They pleaded not guilty in court. Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Nancy Clifford said the suspects wanted to "find some Mexicans to ---- up."

Now, this is inexplicably, undeniably a terrible story. But Mr. Navarrette doesn't really blame the boys. Nor does he blame a culture that glamorized violence and thuggish behavior. Nor does he venture into their family situation or gang associations or psychiatric medications. No, Mr. Navarrette strongly implies that the cause of this is the immigration debate.

Nor should we tolerate an immigration debate that turned anti-Hispanic and that some now blame for incidents like such as this.

In 2006, the last year for which statistics are available, Hispanics were -- according to the FBI -- the No. 1 victim of hate crimes motivated by ethnicity or national origin, representing 62.8 percent of the victims of such crimes.

When tragedy strikes, there are always those who look for someone to blame. In Suffolk County, local activists are blaming public officials who have crusaded against illegal immigration to score political points with their constituents.

The anti-immigrant atmosphere was something even the presidential candidates talked about. Earlier this year, Barack Obama pointed to comments by radio and television hosts critical of immigration. "A certain segment has basically been feeding a kind of xenophobia," he told supporters at a Palm Beach, Florida, fundraiser, tying that sentiment to an increase in hate crimes against Hispanics.

In an interview just before the election, Sen. John McCain told me that there have always been those who stoke fears that American culture and the English language are on their way out.

Do you hear that? "Nor should we tolerate the immigration debate . . ." A discussion of the laws of country, and whether or how they should be enforced, is simply not tolerable if it may carry the blame for "hate."

I would almost guarantee that these teenage thugs had virtually no real awareness of the debate that has gone on in this country about illegal aliens. Their use of the word "beaner," in fact, is one that I would bet that they picked up from Carlos Mencia on Comedy Central. They were simply looking for some way to take their aggression out, thought up a good excuse, and Marcello Lucero, sadly, was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It's things like this that lead to censorship and all sorts of other freedom erosion's, folks. People that think that we must change what we "tolerate," for the good of society. Better to just let the government handle it; if we plebeians discuss it, well, someone could get hurt.

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