Shawn Vestal: Clearly a hate-crime target, Shea sounds alarm
It can be easy to let your guard down about hate crimes.
The feds bust the would-be MLK parade bomber, the taco-truck bigot gets popped, and we return to considering the problem solved.
But hate is alive and well, as state Rep. Matt Shea has learned. Someone recently vandalized four of Shea’s re-election signs in the Spokane Valley, spray-painting swastikas, the words “Vote No” and other graffiti.
You might consider this a bit of stupid, minor destruction, juvenile and disrespectful and not terribly unheard-of. But Shea knows better. In a calm, reasoned news release titled “SHEA CAMPAIGN TARGET OF HATE CRIME,” he says he’s being victimized by “members of the violent and radical progressive movement for my conservative consistent stand for limited constitutional government and my religious beliefs.”
These haters of limited constitutional government have done more than simply deface political signs. They have undertaken, Shea says, “an outright physical attack.” It’s an attempt to threaten and intimidate not only him but his family. A skull-and-crossbones symbol, which looks like it was finger-painted by a toddler, was a “threat on my life,” says Shea, a combat veteran.
Why would someone do this? What kinds of bias and discrimination lurk out there against Shea, a white man whose family ran one of the region’s first stagecoaches?
Let him count the ways:
1) He’s a committed Christian. Everyone knows that Christians – and particularly committed Christians who announce their beliefs at every opportunity – are a persecuted minority. 2) He favors “limited constitutional government.” 3) Not long ago, he bravely took a stand against gay marriage and was outspokenly critical “of current Democrat leadership in Olympia and their continued inability to pass a truly sustainable balanced budget after wasting half the session on homosexual marriage.”
As we all know, those who criticize Democrats and their inability to pass truly sustainable budgets are among the most persecuted segments of modern society.
Anything else about Shea that would make the radical, homosexual left threaten to kill his family?
4) He is involved in the R-74 campaign to stop the blatantly unconstitutional approval of gay marriage. 5) He loves freedom. Absolutely adores it. He understands that the federal government is planning to confiscate firearms, round up citizens and put them into FEMA camps, and outlaw Christianity. He knows that defending freedom requires courage. And firearms. And if you think you can make him stop loving freedom, you’ve got another think coming.
But why swastikas? Why would the haters dredge up the symbol of Nazism to use against a committed Christian? For one thing, Shea says, there is the whole connection to the Holocaust, when “Jews and Christians were horrifically persecuted … .” For another, Shea has a lot of support in the Messianic Jewish community.
Messianic Judaism is Judaism that accepts Jesus Christ as the messiah. It is the most popular form of Judaism among evangelicals like Shea. Shea knows that his support of Messianic Judaism – along with his love of freedom, his belief in limited constitutional government, his fervent opposition to gay marriage, his outspoken criticism of Democratic leadership, his committed Christianity, his courageous devotion to low taxes and the elimination of government programs, his refusal to stay silent about federal plots to imprison freedom-loving Americans in FEMA camps and impose communist rule – is a reason that he has been the target of such hateful, malicious attacks.
Just to be safe, he’s alerted the local Messianic Jewish community. He’s also alerted the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, which has not gotten back to him. I wasn’t able to get any more information from them this week, either – such as whether they agree that this was a hate crime – because they’ve been understandably busy.
At this point, you may be fearful for Shea. Perhaps you’re afraid that Shea will be harmed or even killed for his beliefs, much like Christians and Jews during the Holocaust. Possibly you’re worried that Shea will be unable to withstand this assault and will stop speaking the truth.
In his news release, Shea proclaimed, “As a combat veteran of the Iraq war and so soon after Memorial Day, I think it is important to speak directly to those on the radical left who would seek to divide us and this country: YOU WILL NOT dishonor the memories of our fallen heroes with your hate or intimidate me into submission.”
Got that, radical left? Leave our fallen heroes out of it!
I couldn’t get Shea on the phone this week, but he sent me an email that reads, in part, “I am still waiting for word back from the investigating officer but clearly this was motivated by hate as I’m sure you will agree. Furthermore, members of the Messianic Jewish Community consider this a hate crime since similar vandalism occurred on one of their signs a few years ago. … Without question, this type of bigotry toward Christians and Jews is an extremely serious matter that affects the whole community not just my family and supporters. I hope you will take it seriously as well.”
Hate crimes are indeed serious business. Extremely serious. They are not to be trivialized or politicized or cheapened. It would be – what? offensive? reprehensible? – to make a self-serving travesty of such a grave matter.
Shea understands this. He just hopes the rest of us do, as well.
Shawn Vestal can be reached at (509) 459-5431 or shawnv@ spokesman.com. Follow him on Twitter at @vestal13.