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Wolf, They Cried

Lifted from the comments following this, here’s an item that may have been missed. Roger Kimball takes a look at the “thriving cottage industry” of staged “hate crimes” and pantomime victimhood: 

Last month the Daily Caller reported on an incident at the ostentatiously “progressive” Oberlin College in Ohio. This time the anti-black messages circulating around campus were joined by anti-Jewish and anti-homosexual messages. It turns out that one of the two principle culprits was a vociferous supporter of Obama who belonged to such groups as “White Allies Against Structural Racism” and who describes himself on Twitter as an “atheist/pacifist/environmentalist/libertarian socialist/consequentialist.” As William A. Jacobson reports on his website Legal Insurrection, “School officials and local police knew the identity of the culprits, who were responsible for most if not all of such incidents on campus, yet remained silent as the campus reacted as if the incidents were real. National media attention focused on campus racism at Oberlin for weeks without knowing it was a hoax.”

Jacobson’s timeline of the Oberlin saga makes for interesting reading, not least for the credulity and rush to judgement in the supposedly progressive media and the obfuscation – one might say complicity - of Oberlin’s President. Other fabricated “hate crimes” are mentioned in Kimball’s piece, including a sixteen-year-old student sending himself racist and threatening text messages warning him to drop out of running for presidency of the Student Council, and leading to the involvement of parents, school officials and the police. 

As regular readers will know, feigning racial abuse, whether to justify more “diversity” measures or simply to indulge in some personal psychodrama, has, for some, become a fashionable strategy. As when a 19-year-old freshman ransacked her own room and scrawled racial slurs across its walls before curling into a foetal ball, supposedly “traumatised and mute.” When the invented nature of the incident eventually came to light, Otis Smith of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People showed a remarkable indifference to what had actually happened: “It doesn’t matter to me whether she did it or not because of all the pressure these black students are under at these predominantly white schools. If this will highlight it, if it will bring it to the attention of the public, I have no problem with that.” Despite Mr Smith’s nonchalance, it isn’t clear to me how activist theatrics of this kind – ranging from email sock-puppetry to hanging nooses in campus libraries - will help any students feel welcome and at ease.

Update, via the comments:

Mr Smith’s willingness to excuse malicious disinformation is shared by other activists. Among them, black law student Johnathan Perkins, who in 2011 told the University of Virginia’s student newspaper that while walking home he’d been taunted and intimidated by two white police officers. Perkins’ letter to the paper claimed that “most Americans are raised in racially sterilised environments,” and that “black people are accused of… playing the victim.” The student’s stated hope was that, “sharing this experience will provide this community with some much needed awareness of the lives that many of their black classmates are forced to lead.” A subsequent investigation involving dispatch records, police tapes and surveillance video from nearby businesses revealed the student’s story to be entirely untrue. In a written statement Perkins later admitted, “I wrote the article to bring attention to the topic of police misconduct... The events in the article did not occur.”

Archives of similar hoaxes can be found here, here and here. The latter includes a psychology professor at Claremont McKenna College who slashed her own tyres and defaced her own car with abusive and racist messages. The professor, Kerri Dunn, protested her victimhood to faculty and police despite being seen vandalising the vehicle, thereby setting an example for youngsters everywhere. Meanwhile classes were cancelled in support of Professor Dunn and students held rallies for “tolerance and diversity.” But spare a thought for the professor, our self-imagined heroine. After all, if you’re going to tell students there’s a “crisis of hate” on your campus, as Professor Dunn did, and if the campus you’re talking about doesn’t match that rhetoric at all, then certain measures will have to be taken. And by measures I mean liberties. Like slashing your own tyres then blaming someone in your class. Or walking over to the people who’ve just watched you do this and asking if they’d seen who was responsible.