How many hate crime anecdotes does it take before the mainstream media spot a trend? If the victims are politically correct, all it takes is one or two.
One alleged name-calling. A few alleged acts of vandalism. A suspicious arson here or there. In an instant, an unsubstantiated attack against the right kind of ethnic, racial, religious or sexual minority becomes undisputed evidence of an epidemic of violence. A symbol of rising hate. A national crisis.
But what happens when the targets are the wrong kind of victim? What happens when conservatives and Republicans are on the receiving end of discriminatory threats or harassment or worse?
Hello, reporters? Is anybody home? Is it my imagination, or do I hear pins dropping in the grievance corners of America's otherwise victim-friendly newsrooms?
For the past several weeks, the Internet has been buzzing with story after story of election-related mayhem aimed at Bush/Cheney supporters. Some have downplayed the incidents as run-of-the-mill pranks. Others claim that "both sides are doing it" equally.
Yes, both Democratic and Republican signs have been torn. Yes, there has been juvenile behavior on both sides. But left-wing activists have escalated their campaign attacks to a seemingly unprecedented level. We have gone from simple mischief to open-season malice. And the supposedly objective reporters who are always so willing to connect the dots to expose the politics of hate are now whistling past the smashed windows and flaming signs and bullet holes.
In Madison, Wis., someone burned an 8-foot-by-8-foot Nazi swastika on a homeowner's lawn, which had been decorated with Bush-Cheney signs. The vandals used grass killer to spray the hate symbol (it's OK, Bush-hating trumps environmentalism). Several other homes nearby were vandalized.
In Orlando, Fla., Democrats stormed the local Bush/Cheney headquarters, and the ensuing melee resulted in physical injuries to at least two Republican campaign workers. The liberal protesters justified their actions -- including ramming the head of one of the workers into an office door -- by blaming President Bush's "negative campaign."
So, the 30-second ads made them do it. It's always someone else's fault.
In Knoxville, Tenn., someone shot into the Bush/Cheney headquarters. Shots were also fired into Bush/Cheney offices in Huntington, W. Va., and Florida. The GOP office in Gallatin County, Mont., was vandalized twice in less than a week. Republican offices in the Seattle area, Spokane, Wash., Canton, Ohio, Fairbanks, Alaska, and Edwardsville, Ill., have also been burglarized and/or vandalized.