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Reinforcing the self-serving myth that black killers choose white victims because they are white

Earl Ofari Hutchinson | 8/28/2013, 10:50 a.m.

In trying to determine whether to prosecute an interracial killing or attack as a hate crime or not, prosecutors have to figure out whether there is racial animus in the crime. For an instance of black-on-white violence to be ruled a hate crime, the prosecution has to prove that a black perpetrator intentionally targeted a white victim solely because of his or her color.

It takes hard evidence of racial taunts, threats, writings or statements by the perpetrator to prove race was the motivating factor in an attack. In the absence of that evidence, the charge that the attack was a hate crime won’t fly.

The suggestion that the national press engages in cover-ups to quash discussion of killings committed by blacks of whites because it’s afraid to offend blacks is just absurd. The better explanation is that crime news is so routine that many people never hear about a killing unless the accused murderer is O.J. Simpson, Phil Spector, Robert Blake or a big-name celebrity, or if — as in the case of the alleged killers in Oklahoma — the accused are teens, and the explanation they give as to why they killed is so jaw-dropping and senseless that it alone insures that the incident will become a leading news story.

Still, black-on-white violence anywhere stirs fear among some whites that crime-prone blacks are out to get them, and will seize any opportunity they get to commit violence against white people. When blacks say or do nothing about these attacks it is taken by some as a tacit signal that blacks put less value on white lives than on black lives. This is ridiculous.

But that won’t stop some from screaming loudly that the killing of Lane proves there’s a double standard in interracial killing cases. There’s nothing of the sort, but his heartbreaking death will unfortunately reinforce that belief.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst.