Josh Hawley Finds A Hate Crime He Cares About
Left: Photo by Gage Skidmore (cropped), Creative Commons License 2.0. Right: NY Post cover, Tuesday March 28, 2023

Following Monday's horrific mass shooting at a private school in Nashville, Tennessee, the rightwing outrage machine has finally decided America needs to do something about gun violence. Just kidding, they'd rather ignore the guns and continue escalating panic over transgender people to even greater levels.

Among the few things we know about the shooter, Audrey Hale, who was killed by police just 15 minutes after the attack began, is that Hale was a former student of the school, that Hale had in recent months begun identifying online as transgender, using he/him pronouns in a LinkedIn account, and that police found some writings in Hale's house that they're calling a "manifesto," although whatever that constitutes hasn't yet been released.

That was all rightwing media and politicians needed to know to proclaim not only that Hale was motivated by being trans, but also that Hale absolutely hated Christianity and Christians, because after all, the target was a Christian school. Lost in that certainty, of course, is the detail that Hale had attended that very school as a child. Therefore, like many school shooters, Hale was attacking a familiar target.

The New York Post's very responsible front page yesterday screamed a bunch of stuff that there's no actual evidence for, all mostly based on unfounded speculation. It proclaimed, "TRANSGENDER KILLER TARGETS CHRISTIAN SCHOOL," implying both that Hale's being trans was the reason for the attack, and that their motive was to attack Christians, neither of which we actually know enough to say yet. The subhed made it even more bizarre, stating that "‘Manifesto’ leads to 6 dead, including three young kids." These manifestos are pretty deadly things!

As The Nation'sElie Mystal points out,

The “manifesto” did not “lead” to six dead people. The two assault rifles and handgun the shooter brought with them led to six dead people. If the shooter had shown up to school armed with a manifesto, everybody would still be alive.

The people writing headlines for the Post are probably evil, but they’re not stupid. They know exactly what they’re doing. [...]

As is usual for places where conservatives get their media, the Post takes real problems and inverts them to fit the white grievance narrative.

And so, as always, white Christians are justified in whatever fears they want to project on the despised minority, because for once, unlike in 98 percent of mass shootings, the shooter was not a cisgender white male with a gun. The killer was a trans person. With three guns, all of them purchased legally. (Part, we now know, of a seven gun arsenal Hale had purchased over the last few years.)

Evan has already looked at the insane persecution ravings of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Tucker Carlson, both of whom are equally certain that the school shooting portends a coming wave of trans people attacking innocent Christians. But Sen. Josh Hawley (R- Missouri), the culture warrior who frets about how feminists are stealing men's masculinity and hiding it in clever wooden boxes they buy on Etsy, yesterday went beyond mere rabble-rousing. Hawley sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to demand that the Nashville shooting be investigated as a "hate crime," because if someone shoots up a church school, the shooter must hate Christianity. That's just logic.

Hawley, based on a police statement that the school had been "targeted," added his own spin, going beyond anything police have actually said. Police have not yet identified a motive for the shootings, beyond saying it appears that Hale may have felt "some resentment for having to go to that school."

“It is commonplace to call such horrors ‘senseless violence,'" Hawley wrote, adding his very own explication that "properly speaking, that is false. Police report that the attack here was ‘targeted’ — targeted, that is, against Christians.” Which, again, police didn't say. (Is pointing that out three times enough?)

And yes, Josh Hawley knows damn well that the standard for a hate crimes prosecution is higher than "it happened at a church school, so it was a hate crime aimed at Christians."

Hawley's letter cited the federal hate crimes statute, emphasizing that it includes religion-based violence, and stretched the little we know so far to come to the conclusion that the shooting had to be a hate crime, even though so far police haven't released Hale's writings or said anything more than that suggestion that Hale felt "resentment" toward the school. Maybe it was religious resentment, sure. Or maybe it wasn't. But before we know any of that, Hawley wants the "full resources" of federal law enforcement thrown at investigating the attack, not only to discover the motive, but also to find out "who may have influenced the deranged shooter to carry out these horrific crimes." Wouldn't it be great to blame people in the LGBTQ+ rights movement, or maybe some militant atheists?

Hawley closed by solemnly stating, "Hate that leads to violence must be condemned. And hate crimes must be prosecuted." That seems like a pretty commonplace thought, until you're reminded that in 2021, when Asian Americans were being targeted for hate crimes during the pandemic, Hawley was the only senator to vote against a resolution calling for expedited review of those crimes by the DOJ.

At the time, Hawley warned that there was no reason to turn the "federal government into the speech police," and also fretted about letting the government have "sweeping authority to decide what counts as offensive speech and then monitor it."

But come now, that bill was clearly an attack on Donald Trump for calling COVID-19 the "China Virus" and the "Kung Flu," and Donald Trump's words are by definition not hateful, why would you even suggest such a thing?

[The Nation / Guardian / NBC News / Photo: Josh Hawley (cropped) by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons License 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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