"Hate Crimes"?—Or "Hoax Crimes"?

[Previously by Peter Bradley: Beltway Right Declares Bankruptcy]

With the unraveling of the Duke rape case, yet another Tawana Brawley-style hoax has been exposed. Another scheme to humiliate and scapegoat white people has failed, though many in the Duke faculty still hold out hope of finding an actual case of white racism.

Most articles and editorials expressed dismay over the original "incident". But those like me who follow hate crime hoaxes suspected a scam from the start. In fact, there were several hoaxes that occurred around the same time as the Duke case that received no national publicity:

  • In April 2006, a black 12-year-old from Ansonia, Connecticut claimed he was abducted and assaulted by white men in robes because of the color of his skin. He said the whites drove him to a local park where his face was sprayed with a flammable liquid and ignited.

Ansonia police brought in detectives and paid them overtime to investigate the case. It was soon discovered that the boy made up the story to hide the fact that he was lighting fires at a friend's house.

The young hoaxer was not charged with any crime. [ Boy falsely reports racist attack in Ansonia, WNTH.Com, Apr. 8, 2006]

  • In March 2006, racist fliers were posted in a Suffolk, Virginia apartment complex. Tenants complained to police about the fliers, which contained the headline "KKK congratulates gang bangers for slaughter of black people".

Police discovered the fliers were made and distributed by a black woman to "shock young black people in the area."

The woman was not charged with any crime. [ Black Resident Gave Out KKK Fliers, Police Say,  Daily Press (Hampton Roads, Va.), March 3, 2006]

  • In February 2006, two black firefighters in Jacksonville, Florida said they found nooses placed on their firefighting equipment. A Jacksonville fire chief told police he had a good source saying that the nooses were put there by the victims.

After a lengthy investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, the case was dropped. One of the black firemen refused to take a polygraph test and the other was found to be "deceptive" and refused to take a second test.

Neither were charged.

  • Also in February 2006, a black family in Powhatan, Virginia found spray painted anti-black slurs on their home as well as the phrase "white power." The FBI joined the Powhatan sheriff's department to investigate at the request of the NAACP.

The investigators found that the black family—not white racists—was responsible for spray painting the racial slurs.

No charges were filed. [ Police say hate crime may have been hoax, Associated Press Feb 18, 2006]

"Hate crimes" are tracked by the government and given prominent attention by the media. But no mainstream organization or journalist (let alone the government) keeps track of phony hate crimes—what we must call "hoax crimes". Even more alarmingly, Hoax Crimes are increasing and show no sign of stopping.

The first and only serious study of hoax crimes was conducted in1995 by independent scholar Laird Wilcox. In a self-published booklet titled, Crying Wolf: Hate Crime Hoaxes in America, Wilcox documented hundreds of hoax crimes and analyzed who commits them and why.

Wilcox found that blacks are the worst offenders when it comes to staging phony hate crimes. While some perpetrate hoaxes to get insurance money or to cover their own misdeeds, many, particularly on college campuses, stage them to generate sympathy for their racial agenda.

In the twelve years since Crying Wolf was published there have been a number of hoax crimes on college campuses that sound very similar to the Duke fakery.

Students organized a Say No to Racism march, and race activists demanded programs and procedures to instill racial sensitivity. A spate of national news coverage commented on how little Ole Miss had changed in 40 years.

Then the perpetrators were found to be black students. But Ole Miss chancellor Robert Khayat [send him mail] made it clear there would be no criminal charges—even though the students caused over $600 worth of damage and (obviously) harmed race relations at the school.

  • A similar incident happened at the University of Louisville in 2004. Students endured racial graffiti and racist fliers passed out on cars. Protesters held rallies and handed a list of demands to U of L president Jim Ramsey.

The incident quietly faded away when black students admitted to passing out the fliers as a prank. [ African-Americans Admit To Distributing White Supremacist Literature On UofL Campus, By Craig Hoffman, WAVE3.com, February 25th, 2004]

How common are Hoax Crimes? Since no one studies the problem it is hard to tell. The Los Angeles Times claims there were 20 phony hate crimes on college campuses from 1997-2004, but that number seems low and ignores Hoax Crimes that happen off campus. I counted over a dozen hoaxes from August 2004—August 2005, which indicates these incidents happen at least once a month.[ Colleges perfect milieu for hate crime hoaxes Associated Press April 20, 2004]

While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of hoaxes, there seems to be a similar pattern to them. A good example is a hoax that happened in 2005 at Trinity International University near Chicago. When the threatening letters were reported there was the usual flood of indignation on campus. Students at the mostly white school wore yellow shirts to symbolize solidarity with blacks who had received the hate mail. Jesse Jackson spoke on campus. The President of the college, Greg Waybright, was quick to (over)react:

"I chose to quickly evacuate all college students of color. Shortly thereafter I decided that we would 'strongly encourage' our graduate students of color to also be housed overnight at an undisclosed secure location. The evacuation began immediately. In all, nearly 70 college students and 55 graduate students, spouses, and their children were housed off-campus in undisclosed locations, including private homes." [ Important Update of Recent Events on the Trinity Campus May 2005 An Open Letter from Dr. Gregory L. Waybright President of Trinity International University]

Then the culprit turned out to be Alicia Hardin, a black student who wanted to transfer out of Trinity to be closer to her friends. The story—and the campus outrage—faded away.

President Waybright even announced that he felt a sense of relief because the incident was resolved. And he warned that the hoax should not reflect on any particular ethnic group. (Would he have said the same thing if a white student scapegoated blacks in such a way?

It's important to note that, as with other hoaxers, Hardin actually received a good deal of sympathy after she was found out. A dozen students even held a meeting to offer prayers for her.

The Trinity hoax did differ in one major way from most other hoaxes, however, as Hardin was actually charged with a hate crime. Most hoaxers get away with a slap on the wrist.

Whites have also been known to fake hate crimes. But like other groups they also tend to pin the blame on "white racists". For example, Claremont McKenna College professor Kerri Dunn, a white woman, staged a hoax crime in 2004 before she was to give a speech on racial tolerance. The leftist psychology professor spray painted anti-Semitic and racist slurs on her own car to make it look as if she was the victim of white bigots.

There are exceptions, of course. In a 1994 case that got national notoriety, Susan Smith, a white woman from South Carolina, killed her own children and tried to put the blame on a black man she said had abducted the kids. In another high profile case in 1989, Charles Stuart, a white man from Boston, shot and killed his wife and tried to pin the blame on a black man.

But a big difference is that neither Smith nor Stuart claimed they were attacked because of their race. Both portrayed the phony attacks as random acts of crime, not cases of racial hatred.

And significantly, the Smith and Stuart cases became even bigger stories after they were exposed as hoaxers. Most politically correct fakers fade from the headlines as soon as they are found out.

Writing in the Chicago Tribune following the Trinity International University incident, libertarian columnist Steve Chapman correctly noted that Jesse Jackson and other race activists have created a climate where Hoax Crimes can flourish. Chapman also claimed that the prevalence of Hoax Crimes proves that American racism is on the verge of extinction. [ Phony racism and the allure of victimhood, May 1, 2005]

But what if the races were reversed? What if whites were routinely staging hate crime hoaxes to scapegoat blacks? Would the media, politicians, academics and religious leaders ignore these incidents or conclude that racism is on the verge of extinction?

Not likely. They would insist that this type of racial scapegoating, whether to advance a racial agenda or for individual gain, is in itself "racist". And they would be correct. Hoax Crimes poison race relations and exaggerate the amount of real racism in society. There have even been cases where Hoax Crimes have caused revenge attacks against whites and harassment by the police.

Phony hate crimes like the Duke hoax will continue until they are treated as seriously as real hate crimes. That includes charging hoaxers. It also means some brave journalists, politicians and academics will have to go against the grain and speak out against these incidents.

But given the politics and racial dynamics, the Hoax Crime problem will get worse before it gets better.

Peter Bradley[email him] writes from Washington D.C.