By IAN LOVETT and WILL CARLESS
EL CAJON, Calif. — Shaima Alawadi’s family says they found the first note taped to the front door of their house on a quiet suburban street here. It said: “This is my country. Go back to yours, terrorist,” according to her 15-year-old son, Mohammed.
Ms. Alawadi’s husband, Kassim Alhimidi, says he wanted to call the police. But his wife said no, insisting the note was only a child’s prank. Like many others in the neighborhood, the couple were immigrants from Iraq. In 17 years in the United States, they had been called terrorists before, he said.
But last Wednesday, Ms. Alawadi was found in the family’s dining room by her 17-year-daughter, lying unconscious in a puddle of blood with a severe head wound. Nearby lay another threatening note, similar to the one the family found a week earlier.
Ms. Alawadi, 32, died three days later. The police caution against jumping to conclusions, saying they are still trying to determine whether she was targeted because of her religion or ethnicity, calling that just one possibility.
Yes, 32 minus 17 equals 15.
“At this point, we are not calling it a hate crime,” said Lt. Mark Coit of the El Cajon police. “We haven’t made that determination. We are calling it an isolated incident, because we don’t have any evidence of anything similar going on at this point.”
Whatever the police eventually determine, the crime has shattered the sense of security for Iraqi immigrants in El Cajon, exposing cultural tensions and distrust that have often simmered just below the surface since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.
I dunno. Maybe the El Cajon Klan did it. It could be.
On the other hand, does this sound like a normal hate crime? Compare it to a typical hate crime, such as the assault on blogger Matthew Yglesias last May: man walking alone after dark through another racial group's neighborhood gets beaten up by a couple of strangers. No notes are left.
So, does this suburban San Diego story strike you as a little dubious? The local hate crimeists don't start with say, graffiti or window-breaking, they go right to home invasion and murdering a housewife, but not raping her. And, then, instead of burning a fiery cross, they leave a note. Okay, I suppose ...
From the L.A. Times, a more cautious account:
Alawadi was discovered by the couple's 17-year-old daughter, Fatima, who also reported finding the note near her mother's bloody body. A similar note was taped to the front door several days earlier, she told police, although that note was not preserved.
El Cajon police have not ruled out the possibility that the killing was a hate crime. But Police Chief Jim Redman also said that there is "other evidence" besides the note and that police have not determined a motive or identified a suspect or even a "person of interest."
Redman said police are confident the killing is "an isolated incident" and not part of a campaign of violence aimed at the large Iraqi immigrant community in the suburbs east of San Diego.
Colleen Curry of ABC News is even less rabble-rousing:
Despite a hate-filled note found at the murder scene of an Iraqi mother in California, police today are emphasizing that other evidence found during the investigation has them convinced the killing was an isolated incident that poses no danger to other Iraqis.
Police in El Cajon, Calif., said they will still look into whether the murder of 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi could be classified a hate-crime, but Police Chief James Redman said that "based on the evidence thus far, we believe this is an isolated incident."
The beating death of the Iraqi mother of five sent shock waves through the community of El Cajon, which has one of the largest concentrations of Iraqi immigrants in America. Twitter and Facebook users created hashtags and pages in Alawadi's honor, comparing the targeting of Alawadi for wearing a hijab to that of Florida teen Trayvon Martin for wearing a hooded sweatshirt. Police, however, have not said that Alawadi was targeted for wearing a hijab.
"I want to stress there is other evidence in this case that we are looking at, and the possibility of a hate crime is just one of the aspects of this investigation," Redman said today.
The ABC News report made it clearer what Chief Redman's statement that he believed this was "an isolated incident, means:
"Police declined to elaborate, but crime experts said that usually suggests the victim knows the attacker."
So, why is the New York Times making a big deal over a police blotter item from 3,000 miles away? Especially because by giving their international credence to the hate crime supposition, they might spark who knows what kind of violence among hot-heads in Iraq?
It could be that this is some hate conspiracy. But it sure sounds like the cops know more than they are telling, so why didn't the New York Times wait until they found out what the cops know that they don't yet know before splashing this big?
People give Freud a hard time these days, but his concept of "projection" remains a valuable one when reading the newspaper. There is, as always, a lot of hatred and hysteria in the world today. And there's clearly money to be made by fanning the flames of hate.
The growing SPLCization of the prestige press is frightening. I realize that times are tough for everybody, and that the Southern Poverty Law Center has a gold-plated track record of piling up hundreds of millions of dollars via spreading fear and hate in the guise of fighting hate, so it's not surprising that the national media is following the path the SPLC has pioneered. But this is scary stuff to play around with to make money.