Foggy Bottom whodunit: Swastika scratched in State HQ wall near anti-Semitism watchdog office

This shouldn’t be tough to solve in today’s government-facility security environment, right? One has to wonder just what kind of moron would attempt this in the first place, even apart from the hateful message it apparently intends:

A swastika was found on Monday etched into the wall of a State Department elevator near the office of its special envoy to monitor and combat anti-semitism, according to a person familiar with the discovery and a picture obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The defacement raises troubling questions about security inside the nation’s foreign policy nerve center, and the potential for antisemitism within an outward-facing element of the United States government.

Well, it will raise those troubling questions about security *if* they can’t find the perp. A facility like Foggy Bottom should have security cameras covering all of its interior spaces except those such as bathroom stalls, where personal privacy would be violated by them. Elevators are obvious coverage spots even without saturation coverage.

On top of that, access to government facilities is strictly controlled and recorded. State Department security should know the identities of everyone who had access to that space in the time range when the vandalism occurred. Even without cameras, investigators should be able to narrow down the suspects fairly quickly.

Narrowing down the motive might be a bit more complicated. It could be related to the creation of the office itself and its specific focus on anti-semitism:

In May, administration officials met with Jewish advocacy groups amid pressure to respond more forcefully to an increase in antisemitic attacks in the U.S, Axios reported.

Advocates have asked for more grant funding to boost security around synagogues and other houses of worship or nonprofit organizations. They’re also pressing the administration to fill two posts to combat antisemitism, after rising attacks and threats following the violence in Israel and Gaza.

The current environment being what it is, of course, this might end up being another hate-crime hoax. That’s not seen as often with anti-Semitic vandalism, but it’s not unknown either. A few activists have the mistaken — not to mention malevolent — idea that creating fake hate crimes somehow “raises awareness” for their cause rather than creating ever-increasing levels of skepticism over such claims.

Of course, there are plenty of examples of real-life anti-Semitic (and other) hate crimes too. One cannot assume a hoax just as one cannot assume anything else either, in the absence of a proper investigation. But even if this is a hoax, the perp is still a perp, and in this case one with very bad judgment about when and where to conduct it. Not only does the State HQ likely have saturation surveillance, many of its workers are still conducting business from home. Investigators will have a much smaller pool of suspects to eliminate in getting to the actual perp.

That’s why this is sheer idiocy, even beyond the idiocy it takes to scratch a swastika anywhere in the first place, regardless of motive. Once they find the perp, officials should prosecute it to the full extent of the law, if for no other reason pour encourager les âutres. Even idiots eventually respond to the proper incentives, including bigoted idiots, or they self-select out of polite society.

David Strom 7:01 PM on September 24, 2022