Over the course of the FIBA World Baseketball Championships, on more than one occasions I’ve found myself curing the television when NBA TV has chosen to re-run their up close & personal profile of Israeli SF Omri Casspi, the 23rd overall pick by the Kings in last June’s draft and probably the most prominent currently active Association Jew not named Farmar, Stern or Stoudemire. There’s nothing troubling about the program in and of itself, but when it gets to the point that I can recite all of the dialogue from memory, enough is (fucking) enough.
Still, none of that is justification for painting a backwards (!) swastika on Casspi’s forehead. Ball Don’t Lie’s Dan Devine has followed news accounts of the vandalism (and Casspi’s measured response) and takes rightful umbrage at Sacramento police calling the defacing a “possible” hate crime. As opposed to what, a crime of seething indifference?
Nobody busts out the Krylon and throws up a Nazi symbol on top of an image of a Jew out of love. Nobody does what some sick skell did to Casspi’s image without a shameful fever coursing through the blood.
You might not believe that those who commit crimes like this should be punished more severely because their actions were motivated by hate rather than hunger or poverty or greed or something else. But denying that hatred — of Jews in general, of Casspi in particular, of some amorphous other, of one’s own lot in life, whatever — underpins the invocation of the slaughter of 6 million Jews and as many as 11 million more people from other groups (not to mention the evocation of Charles Manson) would be nonsensical.
Similarly, I get why nearly every report and commentary on the matter has taken a cue from the remarks of Darrell Steinberg, president pro tempore of the California State Senate, and included some sort of note that the abysmal artistic remix was all the more tasteless and offensive because “it occurred on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish new year.” I tend to think that this small, disgusting act would’ve been just as heinous any other day of the year, because a flagrant’s a flagrant whether it comes right after the opening tip or in the closing seconds, but I get it.