For those who wonder why the Senate Democratic leadership has chosen to attach a hate-crimes amendment to the defense authorization bill, given that Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he wanted the legislation to be considered quickly without being weighed down with extraneous amendments, well, Sen. Ted Kennedy has offered an answer. On the Senate floor just a few minutes ago, Kennedy said a hate crimes amendment should be attached to the defense authorization bill because members of the U.S. military commit a significant number of hate crimes.
“This amendment will strengthen the defense authorization act by protecting those who volunteer to serve in the military,” Kennedy said. “The vast majority of our soldiers serve with honor and distinction…but sadly, our military bases are not immune from the violence that comes with hatred.”
Kennedy listed the recent case of some soldiers who allegedly tried to sell military equipment to an FBI agent whom they believed was a white supremacist; the December 2006 case of a Coast Guard officer who posted on a white supremacist website; and a December 1995 case in which two paratroopers took part in a racially motivated double murder. “These examples clearly demonstrate the relevance of this amendment to the military,” Kennedy said. Kennedy suggested that the alleged problem might be getting worse, citing a Southern Poverty Law Center report that extremists are joining the military, putting it, in Kennedy’s words, “at a higher risk of hate-motivated violence.”
As far as I can tell, there is nothing in Kennedy’s amendment that applies specifically to the military.