Nabra Hassanen's death may not legally be a hate crime, but it sure feels hateful – Washington Post

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Hate is hate is hate.

That’s the bottom line. And it is rotting our country, no matter what flavor or shape it comes in.

The killing of 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen, whose body was found in a pond near her mosque in Northern Virginia after some sort of encounter with a motorist, is not being investigated as a hate crime, officials said Monday.

Officials are saying it’s being investigated as a road rage incident.

A hate crime, as we understand it, fits into a tight, legal narrative. It’s a crime motivated by prejudice — whether it’s based on race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

And so far, investigators do not believe Nabra was picked out, targeted and killed specifically because she was a Muslim wearing an abaya, walking to her mosque. And it seems that she was not killed simply because she was a young woman walking outside in the darkness.

[Killing of Muslim teenager is being investigated as road-rage incident]

Officials say the suspect in her killing, Darwin Martinez Torres, was driving as a group that included Nabra was walking and riding bikes in and along the road. And then something, like road rage, happened.

But her mother said detectives have told her that Nabra was struck with a metal bat.

There is no doubt that hitting a 17-year-old girl with a bat and dumping her body in a pond would be an act born of hate, which is rage’s twin brother.

“An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us,” has never been more true. This is what House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R) said after a gunman opened fire on a GOP baseball practice in Alexandria.

Tragedy after tragedy, we puzzle through the labels and follow the common narratives to try and find the logic: Liberal hating Republicans? Muslims hating Christians? White hating black? Cats hating dogs?

But that doesn’t seem to always work. The nation is more than the Hatfields and McCoys.

Even if this was not a hate crime targeting Muslims, it has the effect of one.

The Muslim community in Virginia is nervous. This happened on the same weekend that an attacker crashed a car into a crowd outside a mosque in London. That appeared to be a very deliberate attack on Muslims.

Folks at the mosque, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) in Sterling, are now left to wonder whether they should provide deeper security and patrols during these last 10 days of Ramadan, because they may be targets of hate.

And all women wondered whether this means that this bedroom community is now a place that isn’t safe for them to walk around in.

And all parents of teens wondered if this is about teens no longer being safe in the suburban haven they moved their kids to.

And because Nabra is also African American, born in America to Egyptian immigrants, African Americans wondered whether this is another instance of them being targeted because of their race.

It really is an attack on all of us.

Loudoun County, in all its diversity, is seeing that.

Torres, the 22-year-old charged with Nabra’s killing, is Latino and doesn’t appear to have connected with any hate groups on his Facebook page. He doesn’t fit into the narrative we come to expect when faced with alleged hate crimes.

That may be why so many in Loudoun seem to have a heighten sense of fear.

“No one is looking at this as only a Muslim thing,” said Abdul Rashid Abdullah, a member of ADAMS whose son was at the mosque the night of the incident. “This is not just an attack on Muslims, it’s an attack on the entire community.”

In Great Britain, the van driver who plowed into a crowd and killed one person was heard yelling that he wanted to kill Muslims.

[Van strikes crowd near London mosques in ‘terrorist attack’]

In Loudoun County, the man accused of killing Nabra was not reported to have said anything about her religion. But a Muslim teenage girl is dead. And we’re being told that some sort of road rage led to her death.

And what about the death of a patriotic and accomplished young man named Richard Collins III, who was standing on a curb at a Maryland college campus when he was fatally stabbed in May? Was that hate?

Or the deaths of two men who were fatally stabbed on a train in Portland, Ore., after trying to defend two women from a man making anti-Muslim statements? Was that hate?

Or what about the shootings on a baseball field in Alexandria, where a gunman asked if the politicians practicing were Republicans or Democrats before he opened fire? Was that hate?

Hatred of all stripes is growing.

We watched it, stoked it with every debate that turned into an argument, fanned it with every Facebook meme that went just a bit too far, fueled it with every zero-sum approach to discourse and action. Courtesy is no longer the norm.

“That’s what’s wrong with America right now,” Abdullah said. “Not respecting your neighbor.”

Nabra was killed by some kind of toxic mix of hate and rage, there’s no doubt about that — even if it doesn’t meet the legal definition of a hate crime.

Twitter: @petulad

Read more Petula Dvorak:

The country’s real carnage come from guns. It’s time for Congress to change that.

In Ocean City, Hooters, thongs and horror over topless women on the beach

“It made America possible for me’: The final hours in a lost refuge for the homeless

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