A year before the siege of Oberlin, a twenty-one-year-old junior at the University of Wisconsin, Parkside, was the focus of national attention when she discovered a “hit list” with her name on it, along with the names of a dozen other African-American students. The incident sparked outrage and fear on campus, resulting in a college-wide awareness campaign and a series of student body meetings to address public concern and flush out racist sentiment on campus. It was all a lie. Police confronted the hoaxer, who confessed that she had made the list after another attempted hoax—involving nooses made from rubber bands—failed to elicit a properly panicked response. Bad spelling proved to be her downfall. According to the sheriff, she had misspelled every name on the list but her own.
Even as Alexandra Pennell was addressing an anti-hate rally at Central Connecticut State University organized in her honor with the school’s cooperation, police were eyeing her with suspicion. “All I have to say is that I’m not going to be run out of my home, and I will not be intimidated by hate,” she declared to hundreds of supporters. Pennell claimed to be the target of harassment, routinely discovering notes attacking her for being a lesbian. The university took the allegations seriously and involved the police, who installed a recording device in her dorm room to identify the culprit. When that device was mysteriously disabled twice, police set up another recorder without Pennell’s knowledge. That camera discovered that the source of these harassing letters was Pennell herself. Eventually confessing her fraud, the nineteen-year-old was expelled from her program and criminally charged.
In mid-2013, Vassar College changed the name of its Campus Life Response Team to the Bias Incident Response Team, since the most urgent matters related to student life on campus had become episodes of racial intolerance. Over three months, there had been a number of incidents of vandalism targeting transgender and African-American students. In December of that year, that reign of terror was ended. Vassar’s dean of college life revealed in a campus email that they had caught the culprits. Unmentioned in that email, however, was that one of the guilty parties was the school’s vice president of student life; black and transgender herself, and a member of the vaunted Bias Incident Response Team. Nearly a week later, the school’s vice president admitted that the students behind these episodes of alleged racial intolerance also “falsely reported these as anonymous messages.”
On April 29, 2017, a racist, threatening, and anonymous note was found on the windshield of a black student’s car at Minnesota’s St. Olaf College, touching off a firestorm. Classes were canceled. Marches were organized. Demonstrations rocked the school for days, the target of the threat “tearfully relaying the discovery of the note and how unsafe it made her feel on campus.”26 Neither administrators nor law enforcement could thoroughly investigate the note because its recipient had, in a dramatic display of defiance, burnt it. By now, you know the drill. According to St. Olaf’s president, the hoaxer’s noble intention was “to draw attention to concerns about the campus climate.”
The examples above were in Noah Rothman’s, Unjust: Social Justice and the Unmaking of America. The recent alleged attack on Empire actor Jussie Smollet is becoming to look like a fraud as well.
The satirical website Babylon Bee issued a headline, Snopes Introduces New ‘Factually Inaccurate But Morally Right’ Fact Check Result. The Bee like The Onion are geniuses at headlines that are preposterous yet close to believable. These fraudulent hate crimes, however, are disturbing. It is a byproduct of an ‘ends justify the means’ mentality that is dangerous. Such fraud undermines their objective and it casts a suspicion over claims that may be legitimate. If there really is a hate problem why must we ‘create’ examples.
Two of Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers lied and are being pursued for making false statements to the Senate. Yet these disreputable souls were allowed the forum to disparage a judge and possibly influence the midterm elections.
Hate crime legislation were deemed appropriate because the perpetrators sought to harm more than the victim. Fraudulent hate crimes should reap the same punishment as the ghost perpetrators would have received.
Rage makes you stupid, and makes you do stupid things. These acts are more than stupid, and the authorities should deal with them severely. Our political leaders and reporters are guilty of jumping to believe what confirms their hostility and rage. This is unprofessional and self defeating.
PS Kevin Williamson in National Review, Regular Order
The fake hate crimes tend to crop up in the places where real ones are least likely to happen but where people are most eager to have them happen in order to affirm their own petty hatreds, which means the socially segregated spaces occupied by the social-justice Left, college campuses prominent among them. In November, Goucher College was convulsed by a series of threats against black students and racist graffiti, which turned out to be the work of a hoaxer, Fynn Arthur, a black student and member of the lacrosse team who was charged with a criminal offense in the matter.