Wait for investigations to determine motive

Offenses against Muslims in the United States seem to be automatically labeled as “hate crimes” by federal officials. But when the targets are Christians, perhaps because of their beliefs, it is different. Motives tend to remain “unknown.”

Four people were injured last Thursday when a man walked into a Columbus, Ohio, restaurant and attacked them with a machete. Police shot the attacker, Mohamed Barry, 30, dead.

His assault was on the Nazareth Restaurant and Deli, owned by Hany Baransi, a man of Arab ethnicity who came to this country from Israel. Baransi is known and respected in his community as a devout Christian and a strong supporter of Israel.

Columbus police – quite appropriately – were saying Monday they were still investigating the case and had not established a motive. No one in Washington appears to have spoken out about it.

But rest assured, had Baransi been a devout Muslim and a supporter of, say, Palestinian nationalism, someone at the U.S. Justice Department would have been talking about a hate crime.

One wonders why, unlike local police in most places, the federal officials are not willing to wait until investigations determine motives.