MAGA Hat Attacks: Hate Crimes? Or Something Else?

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Make America Great Again hat

MAGA hat by R. Nial Bradshaw, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/Original


Get ready for a potentially unpopular opinion. Ready? Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Over the past few weeks, we have seen several physical assaults against people wearing MAGA hats. Late last month, an 81-year-old New Jersey man was attacked after being confronted because he was wearing the red cap. In Massachusetts, a woman assaulted a patron in a Mexican restaurant because she was offended by his MAGA hat. She is now facing deportation. Lastly, A man was arrested in Kentucky after pulling a gun on a man who was sporting the supposedly offensive headgear.

Needless to say, these news stories have aroused no small level of outrage on the right, who can clearly see that they are being targeted for their political beliefs. Many in the realm of Twitter blue checkmarks have referred to these incidents as hate crimes. As egregious as these displays are, they do not constitute hate crimes, and it is counterproductive to refer to them as such.

Over the past few weeks, several prominent conservatives have spoken out against the assaults on Trump supporters wearing MAGA hats. On the heels of the media-manufactured Covington kids deception and the Jussie Smollett hoax, Americans are understandably sensitive when it comes to the red headwear.


Here are some of the tweets posted by conservatives on the matter:

Let’s be clear: physically assaulting someone because you don’t like their political beliefs is an abhorrent crime that should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. The right to free speech is one of the most crucial values upon which America was built. Those who would use violence to silence people with whom they disagree are not just wrong, they are unAmerican.


But conservatives should not fall into the trap of labeling these atrocities as hate crimes. Firstly, these incidents do not fit the established definition, which indicates that a hate crime has been committed when one “willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person.”

Those who assault Trump supporters wearing MAGA hats are not motivated by a hatred of one’s immutable or religious characteristics; they are driven by their animus towards a political ideology that conflicts with their own. Political preference is not one of the factors determining what constitutes a hate crime.

The other reason is why we should not be so quick to pull out the hate crime card is because there is no such thing as a hate crime. Murder is murder. Assault is assault. The thoughts one holds in their minds does not have any bearing on the severity of the crime they are committing. A victim who is hospitalized during a bar fight is not somehow less injured than he would be if the person who struck him hated the victim because of his skin color.


So where did I get this radical idea? From conservatives! Right-leaning Americans have always argued that the notion of hate crimes is invalid. Indeed, it appears to have become nothing more than a political weapon that folks on the left can use when they feel like engaging in some good ol’ fashioned race baiting.

Is There A More Applicable Term?

Instead of using the term “hate crime” as a hyperbolic way to describe the attacks on Trump supporters, we should call it what it is. In fact, these actions fit the definition of a term with which we are all familiar: Terrorism. Federal law states that acts of terrorism:

“Involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal la

rs into espousing the same of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any state.”

One of the elements that must be present for an act to fit the definition of terrorism is that the act must have been intended “to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.” Sounds about right, doesn’t it? If a person punches another because they are expressing certain political views, then they are attempting to stop them from voicing their opinions by using violence.


For the record, I am not comparing people who attack Trump supporters to terrorists like ISIS or Al-Qaeda, nor am I placing their behavior on the same level as radical extremists who commit murderous acts. These are two different types of terrorism, but they are both dangerous. In many cases, the progressive left has had a measure of success. Many Trump supporters are afraid to even hint at the idea that they might be a conservative when they interact with people at work, church, and on social media.

The only way to prevent even lower-scale acts of terrorism is to stand up to it. When far-left groups like Antifa show up at conservative rallies to assault the participants, they are hoping that their antics will cow their victims into backing down. But these individuals are nothing more than bullies — and you know how to stop a bully. Conservatives can’t afford to be intimidated into silence. The more we speak out, the less effective these incidents will become.


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