Even hate crimes with an apparent link to Trump’s Muslim- and immigrant-bashing can depart from the script in startling ways. While there was an actual hijab-snatching assault on a Muslim New Yorker in late 2016, complete with taunts about Trump deporting Muslims, the alleged perpetrator was himself an immigrant from predominantly Muslim Uzbekistan. And last spring, a shockingly violent assault on an immigrant in New York involving an actual man in a “Make America Great Again” hat had another shocking twist: Willie Ames, who was indicted for allegedly pushing 26-year-old Luis Lopez off a subway platform after making derogatory comments about Mexican-Americans, is black.
There is a great deal of reluctance on the left, and even among more centrist liberals, to acknowledge such narrative-complicating facts. The New York Times article on the wave of anti-Semitic violence and vandalism in Crown Heights tiptoed delicately around the issue of the alleged assailants’ race, and many reports on the hijab-snatching made no mention of the accused perpetrator’s background. The attack on Lopez, which was captured on surveillance video, received notably little attention from the media given its violent and potentially sensational nature: a man in a MAGA hat pushing a Latino man on the subway tracks. It’s not too much of a stretch to suppose that this would have been front-page news if the man facing hate-crime charges had been white. (The white MAGA-hat kid from Covington Catholic High School got a lot more coverage for smirking at a Native American.)