So I'm sad and disgusted to report that Professor Dharmapala was slashed in the throat yesterday, in what is pretty clearly a hate crime. Fortunately, and somewhat miraculously, Professor Dharmapala will live, and is making a faster-than-expected recovery. But that does nothing to diminish the awfulness of the attempted murder.
Here are the details:
Joshua Scaggs, 23...has been charged with attempted murder and two counts of aggravated battery, alleging he slashed the throat of Anurudha Udeni Dhammika Dharmapala, 41, of Champaign at the Illinois Terminal on Wednesday morning...
A male witness told police the men were both seated in the waiting area when one man suddenly jumped up and shouted that this was his country and attacked Dharmapala.
The attacker, later identified as Scaggs, then grabbed Dharmapala around the neck and appeared to be choking him. He then forced the victim to the floor.
The witness intervened by pulling the attacker off Dharmapala. The witness then noticed that the attacker was holding a utility knife and the victim was bleeding.
Ziegler said Dharmapala was waiting to take a train to Chicago. He had no information on why Scaggs may have been there. Police recovered the box cutter believed used to injure Dharmapala. He said Scaggs had another folding knife in his pocket.So this guy Scaggs went out with a box-cutter and a folding knife, obviously intending to attack someone. He sees a random non-white guy in a train, jumps up, screams "I want my country back," and cuts the guy's throat. Bizarrely, the crime is not being prosecuted as a hate crime. If that's not a hate crime, what is?!
Hate crime or no, Scaggs will certainly rot in jail, as he deserves. But I hope I'm not alone in thinking that this kind of attack is a very bad sign for America in general. For two reasons.
First of all, as I've written before, I believe that racial animosity is wreaking havoc on this country's political process. Tribal animosity makes people paranoid that any government policy represents an attack on their group by another group. And so you hear people blaming "those lazy [insert nonwhite race here]" for the financial crisis and the recession, which reduces our ability to fight the recession with government policy. And you hear people saying that government spending is racial redistribution...so our roads and bridges and research institutions crumble and decay.
But taking a longer view, I believe that immigration - particularly from Asia - is key to our nation's economic success. In a globalized world where companies choose their locations based on access to large domestic markets, having a dense population will be important. Also, high immigrant fertility is the only reason why our country is managing to avoid the demographic disaster looming over East Asia and Europe. Finally, immigrants are a tremendous source of entrepreneurship.
So the idea that non-white immigrants are "taking America away" from whites is by far the most pernicious force in America today. This idea is slowly but steadily making itself an unwelcome fixture in our public discourse.
Now the reason I am saying this is not to make political hay, or to lay blame for this attack on anyone but the perpetrator. It is simply to point out that the murderous hate crimes of a few isolated psychos are not simply isolated and independent random events. They are warning signs of larger forces of hate lurking within our society, corrosively eating away at the foundations of our national polity.
Anyway, best wishes to Professor Dharmapala for a speedy recovery.