Saturday, November 7, 2015

Beer Mug Assault and Burning Crosses

I ran into this last night:
"Charges: Woman attacked non-English speaking Applebee's diner"
KARE 11 Staff, KARE (November 5, 2015)

"A woman is charged with assault for allegedly smashing a beer mug across a diner's face at a local Applebee's -- all because the victim wasn't speaking English, according to the complaint.

"Jodie Marie Burchard-Risch, 43, was charged with third-degree assault for an incident that occurred on Oct. 30 at the Applebee's in Coon Rapids.

"According to the criminal complaint, Burchard-Risch was dining with her husband when she became upset after hearing the victim speaking in a foreign language in the neighboring booth...."
Managers at Applebee's tried to get Burchard-Risch to leave at that point. She did: after yelling a bit more at the other diner and using her beer mug as a weapon, hitting the other woman's face.

One of Applebee's managers followed Burchard-Risch out of the restaurant, staying with her until responding officers arrested her.

The victim has a deep cut across her nose; a cut on her right eyebrow and a big, deep, cut on her lower lip. That's bad, but it could have been worse. Apparently her eyes are okay, and she probably got medical attention promptly.

Burchard-Rish was charged Monday: and there may be more legal trouble coming.

Hate Crimes and Attitudes

I'm not a big fan of hate crime/bias-motivated crime laws, mostly because I think they wouldn't be needed if America's courts paid attention to earlier legal sanctions against slander and physical violence.

That said, I think this attack looks a lot like a 'hate crime.'

The violence of the attack encouraged my suspicion that the 'non-English' language would be Arabic or Spanish. I was wrong. The victim was speaking Swahili:
"Attack on diner at Coon Rapids Applebee's being examined for hate-crime charges"
"The victim, targeted because she wasn't speaking English, suffered deep cuts on her face in the beer-mug attack, according to assault charges."
Shannon Prather Star Tribune (November 7, 2015)

"An Anoka County prosecutor said Friday that authorities are looking into possible hate-crime counts against a woman charged with attacking a diner at the Coon Rapids Applebee's because she was speaking Swahili.

"The victim suffered deep cuts to her face when she was struck with a beer mug Oct. 30 as she ate lunch with her husband and friends, Anoka County authorities said this week.

"Jodie Burchard-Risch, 43, of Ramsey, was charged Monday in Anoka County District Court with third-degree assault.

"On Friday, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) called for hate-crime charges against Burchard-Risch...."
At this point, I could start ranting about the dangers of insufficiently-American foreigners, the need for beer mug control laws, or why restaurants breed violence and obesity.

That would be silly — but no more silly, I think, than many political debates. And that's another topic.

I'm not a Swahili-speaking young woman, so why should I care what happened in that restaurant?

For starters, I don't think 'my end of the boat isn't sinking' makes sense in situations like this. If I don't care when folks who aren't just like me get hurt, I can't reasonably expect sympathy if I'm the next target.

I don't fit today's 'victim' stereotype, but some 'real Americans' might see folks like me as a threat to 'their' country.

I look like a WASP, but I'm not. I'm a half-Irish Catholic. Happily, most Americans have realized that many Irishmen aren't violence-prone drunkards with criminal tendencies.

I've discussed attitudes, bias, and internment camps, before. (A Catholic Citizen in America June 21, 2015; Another War-on-Terror Blog September 12, 2009; January 22, 2009)

Avoiding Hasty Generalizations

I've seen a few folks who might speak Swahili in the small central-Minnesota town I call home, but I haven't heard that language here — apart from someone saying the Lord's Prayer in Swahili at the parish church.

I have, however, heard Spanish more frequently in recent years: mostly while standing in a grocery checkout line: and, rarely, an east-Asian language I didn't recognize.

My lack of violent response to these 'foreign threats' is no virtue. I see new families moving in as a sign that my town is in good shape, and likely to endure: at least for another generation or two.

Besides, as an American, I'd be very concerned if folks weren't pulling up stakes and moving here.

Maybe it's easier to divide the world into 'people like me' and 'foreign threats.' But that attitude doesn't make sense. Not to me.

Sure, some folks who speak Swahili, Arabic, Spanish, or Latvian, might try to blow up the post office or kill me. But but assuming that all Africans, Arabs, Hispanics, or whatever, are threats that makes about as much sense as assuming that all Christians are in the Ku Klux Klan. And that, sadly, is not another topic. (A Catholic Citizen in America January 18, 2015)

Living with difference:

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Eid ul-Fitr, and Death in Khan Bani Saad

A fifth victim died in raising recent Chattanooga, Tennessee, attack's death toll to six. (BBC News)

As I said Thursday, that's a tragedy. (July 16, 2015)

However, I think it's prudent to remember that Americans aren't the only ones terrorists kill.

(From AP, via The Australian, used w/o permission.)
(" A woman grieves at the site of the bombing in Khan Beni Saad, about 30km northeast of Baghdad."
The Australian (July 20, 2015))
"Islamic State Eid attack in Iraq kills 90 as Saudis arrest 400 "
AFP, AP; via The Australian (July 20, 2015 12:00 a.m.)
"Iraq mourned its dead yesterday as the death toll from one of its deadliest car bombs rose to at least 90.

"The suicide attack by Islamic State, which ripped through a busy market north of Baghdad, came as the country marked Eid ul-Fitr, the feast that ends the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan....

"...Muthanna Saadoun, 25, a ­municipal employee who drives a street sweeper, used his truck to help put out the fires that the blast caused in the market area.

" 'People were burning in their cars because no ambulances or fire engines were able to reach them,' he said yesterday....

"...'What we witnessed yesterday cannot be described. Fire, bodies, wounded, women and children screaming ... Khan is now a disaster zone,' said Salem Abu Moqtada, 34, who sells vegetables in the market....

"...'Every year (during Ramadan) there’s a bombing. We are guilty of being Shia,' Mr Saleh said. 'This is the biggest in Diyala since 2003.'

"Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi condemned the attack as 'a despicable crime by the Daesh (Islamic State) terrorist gangs'..."
Another spelling of Khan Beni Saad in my language is Khan Bani Saad.

Either way, the known death toll is about 130 now: 15 of them children. Apparently the attacker drove an ice truck to the market, announced that he was selling ice at a discount because of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, waited for a crowd to gather, and set off the explosion. I suppose the attack was justified — sort of — since there's a claim that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was getting even for the killing of Sunni Muslims in Hawija. (Wikipedia)

I don't see it that way, but I come from a different culture: and have very different beliefs.

Don't expect a rant about 'those Muslims.' If all followers of Islam were this enthusiastic about killing folks who disagreed with them, or had killed someone who shared their particular flavor of Islam — the self-extermination would have been over centuries ago.

There is, I think, hope that folks in the Middle East will learn to restrain their less-reasonable citizens.

Saudi Arabia's government, for example, apparently has decided that arresting folks who plan to kill Saudis is a good idea. That's a start.

In the long run, I think changing the status quo will take a very serious review of what they believe: and hard decisions about what's necessary, and what's causing the bloodshed. Change won't be easy — as my native culture has learned on many occasions. But change happens, and change can be good.

I've said this before:

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.