Why is one hate crime worse than another?

As the country, perhaps the world, continues to focus on the heinous and tragic slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin one month ago, a family in San Diego gets ready to bury 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi who was murdered Thursday, died Friday.

Two people, opposite sides of the country, opposite cultures, share a common bound in death – both were apparently victims of hate crimes.  Martin allegedly wore a hoody and while Alawadi wore a hijab, the Islamic head scarf.

Two people, opposite sides of the country, share a common link in death – a piece of apparel that presumably targeted them in death.  For Martin, a hoody that many adolescents wear and  Alawadi, the hijab worn by observant Muslims.

But until Monday, little was reported about Alawadi’s slaying.  Was hers any worse than Martin’s?  Critics say George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, shot Martin presumably because Martin was black.

Alawadi was murdered, presumably because she was an Iraqi-born Muslim.  A hate crime?  Media reports say a note, which read “go back to your country, you terrorist,” was found next to her body.

Two senseless murders, probably the result of hate, make national news. One  barely while the other has dominated the headlines.

Martin’s murder has engaged and enraged people from his native Florida to the Whitehouse.  It has been the lead story on TV newscasts, reported on the front page of newspapers around the country.

Alawadi’s?  It had two paragraphs in the Chicago Tribune with the Chicago Sun-Times running a more detailed story – but on page 22.

Is Taylor’s slaying more tragic than Alawadi’s because he leaves grieving parents?  Alawadi was the mother of five.

The tragic reality is both appeared to be motivated by hate.  But yet, for whatever reason, Alawadi’s is ho-hum news.  Yes, way too many Americans died in her homeland.  But thousands of Americans died in Japan and Viet-Nam, yet we don’t accept senseless murders of Asian Americans.

A hoody or hijab are not reasons to commit murder.  The murders are heinous.  Period.

It’s a small consolation, but at least they have the perpetrator in the Martin case.  So far, no one has been charged in Alawadi’s slaying.

But why an imbalance of coverage?  Two murders seemingly motivated by hate are at opposite spectrums of public awareness.

Hate crimes are senseless crimes.  The mere fact that they are minority segments of the populations doesn’t make them acceptable.

What would have happened if Martin had been a white kid from the suburbs and Alawadi a Catholic school girl?  More coverage?  More sympathy?

We’ll never know.  In the meantime the reality is that hate crimes are no less tragic if the victims were wearing a hoody, hijab or a polo shirt.

The bottom line is hate crimes are senseless and what’s headlines for one should be headlines for the other.


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  • Maybe it is because the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. and the Rev. Al Sharpton didn't find a camera opportunity in the latter.

    In fact, the latter shows signs of hate, while the circumstances of the former are not so clear (the "neighborhood watch" guy might just have been trigger happy). In the latter regard, other interests are trying to make hay over the Florida "stand your ground law," while some 80 year old man in Englewood is being charged with a gun offense, even though it is elsewhere well settled that it is self defense to shoot someone breaking into your house.

  • In reply to jack:

    I can't disagree. Photo opps. can make a big difference.

  • I cannot agree with you more. I'm originally from San Diego and I currently live out of state. I heard all about the Trayvon Martin shooting via facebook from friends and relatives that still reside in Southern California and yet not a one mentioned this woman's brutal murder that happened in their own city. You would think the media would be jumping all over this story if only to help bring the murder to justice and yet hardly anything has been said. I was sickened to see in the comments section of a Time article talking about amount of attention this case isn't getting speculation that this was an "honor killing" when there has been nothing that I have seen that remotely suggests that. So thank you for being one of only a handful of voices that is asking why people just don't seem to care about what happened to this woman.

  • MARTIN was not murdered

    He was killed while in the process of a felony act and he was pounding on zimmerman


    a racist comment theory on the writers part

  • Whites are attacked relentlessly by blacks and it not only doesnt merit almost any attention from the black fearing self hating white leftists, but no hate crimes are leveled at blacks in almost all cases when they are the attackers

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