How Did a #HateCrimeHearing Devolve Into an Echo Chamber for White Nationalism?
“February 10, 2015, that was the day our lives changed forever when my two daughters Yusor and Razan, and my son-in-law Deah, were shot to death execution style in Yusor and Deah’s home in Chapel Hill. When we arrived at the scene, yellow tape and flashing lights froze the blood in our veins. We waited almost six hours for police officers to confirm that Deah, Yusor and Razan had all been shot to death. In a desperate attempt to make it bearable, an officer whispered, and I quote, ‘They didn’t suffer. It was swift. It was one shot to the back of the head.’ Well, this statement did not make it any more bearable.”
Recalling the chilling details of the murder of his two daughters and son-in-law in a case that gripped communities far and wide, Dr. Mohammed Abu-Salha paused, visibly shaken and overcome.
Appearing in Congress to testify as part of the hearing on Hate Crimes and the Rise of White Nationalism, Dr. Abu-Salha testified about what hate had snatched from him: three vibrant, loving members of his family. He stoically recounted Yusor telling him that this condescending man, her eventually murderer, made it clear that he didn’t like the way she looked and dressed, and made it clear that Dr. Abu-Salha’s children “were not welcome in their own neighborhood.” Despite this, Dr. Abu-Salha lamented the fact that “news about their deaths spread over the internet and media over the globe, but we never heard that their murderer hated them.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, what happened to our children was a home invasion and execution. Three young Americans were brutally murdered, and there’s no doubt in our minds that this tragedy was borne of bigotry and hate. This has happened on too many occasions. I am afraid for our country. In 2016, the FBI recorded a 67 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes and just last week, a young man in Indiana was shot in the back of the head by a man shouting anti-Muslim [comments].”
“I ask you, I truly plead to you, not to let another American family go through this because our government didn’t act to protect all Americans. Please remember them: Yusor, Deah, and Razan. They are my children and they are gone.”
Convened to directly challenge the statistically proven rise of hate crimes and white supremacy, the hearing on Hate Crimes and the Rise of White Nationalism brought together congressmen and women, as well as experts entrenched in researching the alarming rise in hate crimes since the 2016 elections. In testimony that followed Dr. Abu-Salha’s, Ms. Eva Paterson, President of the Equal Justice Society pleaded for testimony to be listened to as “Americans, and not partisan enemies.” Intended as a forum to discuss the root causes of, the vehicles for, and the legislation to suppress this disturbing trend, the hearing quickly devolved into exactly what Ms. Paterson had feared: a partisan battle over the lives lost to hate.
Below, we share a round-up of the conversations surrounding the hearing on Hate Crimes and the Rise of White Nationalism, as the population witnessed the hearings turn into another echo chamber for the hatred and white nationalism that has woven itself into the fabric of this nation: