Last September, 17-year-old Utah resident Aaron Chapman found himself caught in traffic outside Salt Lake City’s Triad Amphitheater following a rock concert. Chapman’s red flannel shirt attracted the attention of eight to ten Tongan Crip gang members, who surrounded Chapman’s car and began taunting him. Although Chapman ignored the harassment, the Crips began to punch him through the open car window. Chapman’s niece, 17-year-old Monica Vigil, pulled him clear of the car. When a gang member approached Chapman with a metal pipe, she tried to shield her uncle with her body. The Crips buried the girl aside, threw Chapman to the sidewalk, and continued the beating.

Vigil later recalled, “I was telling everybody to help, and they were looking at me as if I was stupid.” Hundreds of spectators observed the atrocity with stolid indifference. Suddenly, 17-year-old Asi Mohi emerged from the crowd. Shouting “You want more, here’s some more,” Mohi drew a .22 pistol and shot Chapman point-blank. The boy died 45 minutes later.

Salt Lake police arrested Mohi the next morning at his Bountiful home. Mohi led the police to the murder scene and retrieved the pistol; he quickly confessed to the killing. Mohi was wellacquainted with police procedure, as his record at the time of the shooting included five felonies and 15 misdemeanors. A year before the shooting Mohi had completed a nine-month probation term for gang-related violence. Chapman’s murder made for predictably maudlin media coverage. In both print and television accounts of the incident, Utah’s self-appointed molders of the public mind sermonized about the “tragedy” of gang violence. Utah Governor Mike Leavitt called the state legislature into special session for the purpose of devising “anti-gang” measures, including tighter gun controls. But the most arresting aspect of the incident was the utter refusal of Utah’s elite to treat the beating/murder of a white teenager by a Tongan gang as a racial incident.

Granted, the Tongan Crips had initially been provoked by the color of Chapman’s shirt, not the color of his skin. But it is useful to speculate how Utah’s “tolerance” industry would have reacted had a Tongan or another “person of color” been beaten and murdered by a gang of eight to ten white youths.

As soon as the media had wrung the pathos out of Chapman’s death, it began to lavish compassion upon the “other victim”—none other than the confessed killer, Asi Mohi. This effort began with a remark made by Salt Lake Police Lieutenant Dennis Tueller, who for some reason saw fit to minimize Chapman’s murder: “Chalk it up to the heat of passion. Mohi saw his buddies in a fight and jumped out to help them.” By what reckoning is a situation in which a gang is beating a single victim considered a “fight”? To how much “help” are eight to ten large Tongan men entitled in an effort to brutalize one helpless teenager?

Brian Preece, one of Mohi’s coaches at Salt Lake’s West High School, told the September 9 Salt Lake Tribune, “There are many victims in this tragedy. The potential of each one of these young men’s lives will be permanently lost.” Mohi had been a co-captain of the West High football team. While Aaron Chapman’s parents buried their son, Mohi’s teammates wrote the confessed murderer’s jersey number on their helmets as a protest and a gesture of solidarity with “the other victim.”

“What went wrong?” sniffled the headline of a September 12 Tribune cover profile of Mohi. The paper portrayed Mohi as a troubled, misunderstood youth whose family had fled L.A. to liberate him from the tenacious grip of his gang loyalties. Mohi had been a dismal student and had fathered a bastard child. However, the Tribune insisted, Mohi had been “rehabilitated” and planned to start a new life before his sudden murderous atavism.

The story even took a stab at blaming Chapman for his own death: “The Chapmans insist Aaron was not in a gang, and there’s no indication he was. Still, investigators did find a gun in his car after the shooting, and students in both West and Granite high schools [Chapman attended the latter] insist gang members attended his funeral.” It is impossible to imagine a similar effort to tarnish the dead with innuendo had the murder victim been a member of an accredited minority group.

Salt Lake attorney Ron Yengich, one of the state’s most visible “civil rights” lawyers, stepped forward to defend Mohi. Yengich quickly deployed the race card: “It troubles me that if four white kids get together and beat somebody up, we don’t say that’s gang-related. But if they’re four Samoans or four Hispanics or four blacks, automatically we assume it’s gang-related.” This is patently absurd: if eight to ten white youths were to beat and kill a “person of color” in Utah (or anywhere else), the act would be taxonomized a “hate crime” and become a global news event. But Chapman’s death at the hands of an ethnic gang was referred to the Salt Lake Area Gang Project, rather than the state human rights commission, and left completely unreported outside of Utah.

Of all the contending varieties of ethnic gangs, apparently only “skinheads” are capable of committing “hate crimes.” Utahns have been kept in a low-grade panic about the skinhead “menace” since a small group of the tonsured cretins took up residence near Zion National Park in late 1992. Immediately after the skinheads materialized, minority “leaders,” from the NAACP to the state sodomite lobby, began to whine for a more stringent “hate crimes” law. On July 1, 1993, a small group of skinheads was intercepted outside of an apartment complex in the northern Utah community of Layton. Police seized several weapons from the skinheads and filed misdemeanor charges. The Utah NAACP and the FBI urged the Davis County prosecutor to file “hate crimes” charges against the skinheads, noting that the Utah statute does not require the commission of a violent act—all that is required is “intent to intimidate or terrorize” an individual or group on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religious affiliation.

The Utah NAACP has also detected racial motives in the attempted murder of Rodney James, a Los Angeles youth who was shot in the head by a white student while attending Utah Valley Community College in Orem. James, a handsome, popular musician, attracted a lot of attention from female students. This provoked the jealousy of Lyle Murray, James’ roommate, who lured James away from campus and shot him. Fortunately, James survived with only minor injury.

Although James believes racial motives may have been involved in the shooting, he reports that Murray had never uttered a racial epithet. Aside from the fact that the assailant was white and the victim was black, there is no basis for regarding the incident as a “race-related” crime. Nevertheless, the NAACP and its allies have insisted that the shooting be regarded as racist in origin and prosecuted as a hate crime.

Under the standards employed in the Layton skinhead incident and the shooting of Rodney James, Aaron Chapman’s murder should be regarded as a hate crime. Clearly, the actions of the Tongan Crips were intended to “terrorize” and “intimidate” people; furthermore, the assailants were all Tongan and the victim was white. But the beating murder attracted little interest from Utah’s “social justice” activists. Jeanette Williams, who chairs both the state NAACP and the “William Andrews Committee on Social Justice” (Andrews was a black man executed in 1992 for a multiple torture-murder), said that she was concerned only that Asi Mohi receive a sentence no more severe than a white criminal would receive for the same offense.

The Utah “Martin Luther King, Jr., Human Rights Commission” also treated the Chapman murder with indifference. Created by gubernatorial executive order in 1991, the King Commission is an adjunct to the state economic development board. The commission’s purpose is to persuade politically correct corporations that Utah “values diversity.” To that end, the commission sponsored Utah’s hate crimes law and has inflicted various reeducation schemes upon public school students. An early priority of the commission was realized last summer when Salt Lake City’s busiest street was renamed “Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard.” The commission had no interest in the murder of Aaron Chapman, a genuine human rights abuse by any standard.

The media’s soft-focus treatment of Asi Mohi helped minimize criticism of a social-engineering program in which the young recidivist had been enrolled. Called “Colors of Success,” the program was designed to “lower social barriers” among high school and junior high school students in Salt Lake. Mohi had been the program’s poster boy: a frontpage story in the December 29, 1992, Deseret News displayed Mohi as the program’s most notable success story.

According to the Deseret News, the “Colors of Success” program brings “at-risk” students together with “privileged” students under the guidance of adult “case managers.” Participants become involved in discussions about “racism, problem-solving, goal-setting, peer pressure, and how to improve the school and community.” According to “Colors” alumna Emma Wharton, “We [would] talk about problems in the school, this teacher being unfair, racism, or why there are more kids in upper-level classes.” In addition to nurturing class and race resentment in students, the program’s “case managers” would conduct “conflict-resolution” sessions involving rival gangs.

“Colors of Success,” which is funded by tax-exempt foundations and government agencies, has been a hard sell, and much of its marketability depended upon Mohi. The Deseret News reported that Mohi “hopes a college athletic scholarship is in his future—and it won’t be as a Prop. 48 athlete [an academic hardship case].” After two and a half years in the “Colors” program, Mohi had become, according to the Tribune, “a role model for troubled teens.” During a spring 1993 “Take Back the Streets” event sponsored by Salt Lake gang caseworkers, Mohi was introduced as a “reformed gang member.” Robert Sawyer, Mohi’s case manager, said that Mohi had been active in “Colors” right up to the night he shot Chapman.

Duane Bourdeaux, the founder of “Colors,” was in the crowd outside the Triad Amphitheater when Chapman was murdered. His first instinct, to judge from his published remarks, was to defend Mohi and the “Colors” program: “If he could have made it through this year, I really think things could have changed. Whether the kid did go out and take a life, I know what the kid did in this program. . . . I know what I see in this individual.” Bourdeaux was obviously concerned that Mohi’s actions would provoke criticism of the “Colors” program: “It’s devastating for a program like ours to get this kind of press.” But the program may prove impervious to the negative publicity. According to the Tribune, Mohi’s crime has inspired “police, prosecutors, teachers and parents [to call] for more programs like ‘Colors of Success.'”

While Utah’s intellectual elite contemplated an enhanced entitlement for the state’s youthful criminals, Monica Vigil became another crime victim. In late October Miss Vigil was killed in her sleep by an intruder who crept into her bedroom and shot her point-blank. As of this writing no suspect has been detained. Police briefly questioned Vigil’s former boyfriend, against whom Vigil had obtained a restraining order; however, the young man provided an alibi. Just prior to her death Vigil had testified against Asi Mohi, and many in Utah reasonably suspect that her murder was an act of retribution by Mohi’s gang allies.

Aaron Chapman’s death was worthy of broader publicity—and it would have gotten it if the victim had belonged to a politically correct ethnic group. On the day of Chapman’s murder, the Associated Press nationwide carried a story about the flight of black people from the tiny town of Vidor, Texas, because of racial tensions—an ugly situation, to be sure, but no more inherently newsworthy than the Chapman story. The Florida trial of two white men accused of burning Jamaican tourist Christopher Wilson, which was concluded just shortly after Chapman’s death, also earned worldwide attention. Wilson had been abducted and burned on New Year’s Day 1993, surviving with burns on 40 percent of his body. The two white defendants were convicted of kidnapping, robbery, and attempted murder despite abundant weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. Wilson suffered horribly and his assailants should be punished to the limits of the law. However, Wilson—unlike Aaron Chapman—is alive.

The opinion cartel’s curious disinterest toward the Chapman murder redundantly illustrates this fact: under the victim hierarchy recognized by America’s social engineers, white Americans can be the perpetrators—but never the victims —of racially motivated crimes.