Hate Crime Hoax

How the Left is Selling a Fake Race War

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Back in 2014, George F. Will observed that when colleges "make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate." A lot of people got mad about that observation, including the guy in charge at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who yanked his column from their pages forevermore.

But this book, by Wilfred Reilly, illustrates Will's point from another angle: when you're the victim of a "hate crime", you get sympathy, publicity, and (who knows) you might even get cash via the GoFundMe route.

And sometimes that's deserved. Reilly goes out of his way to point out that a lot of "hate crimes" aren't hoaxes. But—geez—a significant fraction of them are.

And some have unknown status, but smell bad. I remember the Stoke Hall Stairwell Swastikas which caused a furor back in 2017 at the University Near Here. This was widely publicized as a racially-tinged incident. Wouldn't "antisemitic" have been a more plausible speculation? But never mind that: if you check the first link above, you'll notice the swastikas were all drawn backwards. You'd think Nazi students bent on defacing a stairwell wall would have a better grasp of their symbols.

Reilly fills the book with anecdote after anecdote of fake hate crimes. University stories make up a lot, as George Will might have predicted. And generally follow a pattern: the initial claims are taken uncritically as true by administration, faculty, and students; in response, programs are instituted, meetings are held, speeches are given; news media play it up as another example of America's fundamental bigotry; further investigation (usually by the cops) raises doubts; eventually the truth comes out; nobody learns anything.

Not that all hoaxes are promulgated with a leftist slant. (The book's subtitle is misleading about that.) Reilly devotes a chapter to detailing whites making false claims about blacks, alt-righters making false claims against lefties, and the like. When you're of a certain mindset, never mind your race, sex, or religion, the appeal of fake victimhood can be seductive.

Reilly is an academic, at Kentucky State U. But this is not an academic book; Reilly writes more like an acerbic in-your-face blogger. (I sympathize.) And he can be genuinely funny, when not being outraged. When telling the story of the teenage Israeli hacker who made thousands of fake threats against Jewish institutions: "This kid seems to have been one lab accident away from becoming a super-villain."

This book was published back in February 2019. Jussie Smollett's "hate crime" was in January of that year, meaning it was too late to be included. But it's fascinating to see how closely the story of Jussie's hoax followed the arcs of previous hoaxes. (Too bad that he didn't read this book first, he might have avoided some obvious blunders.)

Last Modified 2024-01-16 4:56 AM EDT