03 November 2009

Setting an example

We look at the heartbreaking death of Noor Faleh Almaleki, a young woman in Arizona who, it certainly appears, was killed by her father for being "too Westernized."

It is unclear, at least upon cursory inspection, as to whether these folks were "Iraqis," or Americans who'd immigrated from Iraq.  It may not be legally different, but if Miss Almaleki was an American citizen, I'd find it a little irritating to have her referred to as an "Iraqi woman."  Because that makes it easier for us to distance ourselves from the savagery of an honor killing being committed in freakin' Arizona.

And I don't think we want to trivialize this sort of thing.  It is, after all, male relatives killing women in America.  That is, beyond just being awful, the perfect example of the sort of crap and horror that pretty much everyone ought to be able to agree needs to be left behind in the countries these folks leave behind.

Come to the US, you get economic opportunity, freedom from death squads, the ability to vote in reasonably un-rigged elections, public education for all your children.  You do have to leave some things behind, and they should include: disappearing people with whom you disagree politically; discarding refuse and excrement in the street; and, treating your female relatives like goats you're not allowed to eat.

I would assume, since we (as a country) went to the trouble of running this man down and bringing him back when he tried to flee to Great Britain, the intent exists to prosecute him.  Ms. Almaleki died last night, so I haven't seen yet the specific charge.

But I think we need to start making an example.  This sort of thing, it appears, is happening from time to time.  And, it seems, if left unchecked, this is a problem that will grow.  It has in Great Britain.

In the first half of this year alone, the government’s Forced Marriage Unit – which deals with honour violence because of its frequent links to forced marriage – had received 2,000 calls.

That's unacceptable in this country.  Sorry.  I'm a woman, and I have had no experience that leads me to believe my country will put up with that sort of savage behavior.

Now, oddly enough, it seems as if our federal government has done something recently that might give us (as a nation) a way to express our disapproval for this garbage.  Mr. Almeleki should, of course, be prosecuted by the state of Arizona as they see fit.  But then...(I love this)...has anyone looked at that new bit of federal hate crimes legislation the president just signed?
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act gives the Department of Justice (DOJ) the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence by providing the DOJ with jurisdiction over crimes of violence where the perpetrator has selected the victim because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
The focus with this, particularly among conservatives, has been on the "sexual orientation" bit.  But...gender was also added as a criteria to screen for bias in criminal motivation.

I'm not, in the most part, a fan of the concept of hate crimes.  A crime is a crime - one murder is no worse than another.  But there have been times in our nation's history when state courts have refused to step up to the plate, and the federal government's willingness to prosecute what they could was the only honorable action taken.
The FBI arrested 18 men in October 1964, but state prosecutors refused to try the case, claiming lack of evidence. The federal government then stepped in, and the FBI arrested 18 in connection with the killings. In 1967, seven men were convicted on federal conspiracy charges and given sentences of three to ten years, but none served more than six. No one was tried on the charge or murder. The contemptible words of the presiding federal judge, William Cox, give an indication of Mississippi's version of justice at the time: "They killed one ni---r, one Jew, and a white man. I gave them all what I thought they deserved." [source same as above link]
It took 41 years to get murder convictions on the scum who killed those Freedom Riders.  I don't think we can afford to play around with the scum who come to our country and kill women.  If we need to use federal hate crimes statutes to stomp on the head of this particular rat with extreme predjudice, I'd support it.
We can use those laws that way ("would you have killed your son for wearing a Lakers t-shirt?  No?  Ok - hate crime!"), then take the newspaper clippings on those prosecutions, have them translated, and hang them in every Immigration office in the US.  I've been in some of those offices.  The lines are long, there would be plenty of time for reading.