EDITORIAL: Eric Holder’s knockout game

Some of the attorney general’s suspects are missing

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Justice is anything but blind at the agency run by Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. For weeks, the Justice Department refused to acknowledge the existence of the “knockout game” everyone was talking about. The object of the knockout game is to randomly assault a stranger on the street and render him unconscious with a single punch. The knockouts appear to carry extra “street cred” if captured on a cellphone and the video is posted online.

The Justice Department finally discovered the game Thursday with the announcement that it had brought federal hate-crime charges against a man who played the game in Fulshear, Texas, west of Houston. Conrad Alvin Barrett, 27, a white man from Katy, Texas, is charged with striking a 79-year-old black man, breaking his jaw and dislodging three teeth. The assailant recorded the attack and, being not very bright as well as being particularly mean and vicious, showed his video to a white couple he met in a restaurant. They called the cops.

Mr. Holder’s crack agents, having finally found an assailant who, unlike nearly all the other knockout artists, is white, vowed to do something. “Suspected crimes of this nature will simply not be tolerated,” says Kenneth Magidson, the U.S. attorney in Houston. “Evidence of hate crimes will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted … to the fullest extent of the law.” In other incidents of the knockout game, the suspects were black, the victims white. Mr. Holder’s campaign to stamp out this vicious street crime would be more persuasive if his prosecutions were evenhanded and consistent, not selective.

Throughout his tenure as the nation’s top lawman, Mr. Holder has consistently treated some victims as more equal than others, such as in filing lawsuits to prevent states from strictly enforcing immigration laws while turning a blind eye to states and cities flouting U.S. law in declaring themselves “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants. Mr. Holder also sues states to cancel laws against voter fraud and drops charges against members of the New Black Panther Party who intimidate white voters in Philadelphia.

Whenever a punk slugs an elderly man or a young woman, it doesn’t matter whether the slugger or the sluggee is black, white, Hispanic or the newly coined “white Hispanic.” Anyone guilty of preying on the defenseless deserves no mercy of the courts. Texas does not coddle criminals and has demonstrated that it is more than capable of bringing criminals, white or black, to justice. The federal government’s intervention is unnecessary.

The concept of “hate crime” is a travesty of the law, but as long as such laws remain on the book they must be administered with an even hand; the law cannot be “fairer” to some than to others. Mr. Holder should knock out selective enforcement of the law. It was wrong in Mississippi two generations ago, and it’s wrong as directed from Washington today.

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