Ignoring a hate crime in D.C.

Posted: Dec 29, 2000 12:00 AM
Here in the land of pontificators and tolerance preachers, a hateful crime goes unpunished. President Clinton, our lame duck lip-biter, is nowhere to be found. Neither are the chest-beaters at the New York Times. And the rainbow coalition of loud-mouthed minority leaders, always on the ready to exploit racial divisions, seems to have vanished into thin air. One month ago this week, cowardly goons firebombed the A-1 grocery store in Northeast Washington. No one was injured. But the pipe bomb, tossed into the store's entrance, roasted the front of the building. The vandals also spraypainted racist epithets and threats all over the establishment's outer wall. If the owner of the store had been black, and the neighborhood white, this violent incident in the nation's capital would have undoubtedly made front-page headlines and the nightly news. Instead, it merited a grand total of two stories in the mainstream press -- one in each metro section of the Washington Post and Washington Times -- and a brief editorial in the Post. "It just didn't get a lot of media attention," Lt. Scott Dignan of the D.C. police told me this week. Dignan surmises that the presidential election might have overshadowed the firebombing. But he also notes that the case didn't lend itself to the "easy soundbites" that often accompany other high-profile hate crimes. That's because the victim of this assault is of Asian descent -- Korean immigrant Frank Han -- and his vocal enemies are members of the hatemongering New Black Panther Party, founded by ex-Nation of Islam official Khallid Muhammad. The New Black Panther Party had been boycotting the grocery story since Nov. 22, when Han tried to stop a black teenage girl from shortchanging him over an ice cream bar. According to the store owners, the item was 65 cents, but the 14-year-old put only a quarter on the counter and then attempted to leave. Surveillance video reportedly showed Han trying to detain the girl -- who then initiated a melee by punching Han in the face. Han struck back in self-defense, he says, and the girl's two friends (all of whom had ditched school) joined in attacking him. Others entered the scene, ransacking and stealing from the store. Instead of condemning the youths for breaking school rules and terrorizing a local, law-abiding business, radical black activists demonstrated at the store chanting "black power," "shut 'em down," and "death to the bloodsucker." The Washington Times reported that one "field marshal" for the group shouted into a megaphone: "We will use all means necessary, any means necessary, to shut this store down." Malik Shabazz, a New Black Panther attorney, accused the
store of "stealing" in an "exploitive relationship, or what some people call 'bloodsucking.'" "Bloodsucker" is a pet term of the New Black Panther Party, hurled at Asians, Jews, whites, and anyone else making an honest living instead of carping about racism. Shabazz said his group had nothing to do with the firebombing. Yet, the message of the boycotters was the same message the bombers left at the store: "Burn them down, Shut them down, Black Power!" The group's leader, Khallid Muhammad, is infamous for his embrace of race-based violence. He advised the new black-led government of South Africa to murder all whites who refused to the leave the country: "We kill the women. We kill the babies, we kill the blind. We kill the cripples. We kill them all." He also praised Colin Ferguson, the Long Island commuter train gunman who slaughtered whites and Asian-Americans in a racist rage. From New York to Los Angeles, black resentment against Asian-American entrepreneurs has boiled into violence. Few dare to denounce it for fear of antagonizing a politically protected group that disguises its hatred behind a cloak of victimhood. This corrupt racial double standard must end. An FBI spokesman told me the agency completed an investigation into the firebombing last week. The incoming Bush administration can show its commitment to civil rights -- and begin the "healing" -- by prosecuting the hate-filled perpetrators in the A-1 grocery store case to the full extent of the law.