March 7, 2003
Faking the hate?, contd.
Last week Daisy Lundy, a sophomore candidate for student council president at UVa, was the victim of a hate crime. According to Lundy, she was attacked by a heavyset white man at 2 am while rummaging in her car for her cell phone. Lundy alleged that the man slammed her head into the steering wheel, threw her to the ground, and informed her that "No one wants a nigger to be president." The press--and the UVa community, and even the FBI--have been all over this incident.
But as the days pass, more and more people are beginning to express doubts about Lundy's story, and wondering out loud whether the real story is not that Lundy was the victim of a hate crime, but rather that UVa has been the victim of a hate crime hoax. John Rosenberg reports that the skepticism about Lundy's allegations is heating up in Charlottesville. Check out this comment board and see for yourself how local residents and UVa students are identifying the holes in Lundy's story and the tactical advantage the alleged incident gives her in her campaign.
Such concerns may seem harsh. But they aren't far-fetched: in recent years, American campuses have become the scenes of frequent hate crime hoaxes.
In 1998, a lesbian student at St. Cloud State University faked a hate crime against herself by cutting her chest and battering her face. She claimed two men attacked her as she came out of a vigil held for Matthew Shepard.
Also in 1998, members of Duke's Black Student Alliance faked a symbolic lynching to enhance support for their agenda. Hanging a black doll from a tree at the site of a planned protest, they had the campus in an uproar about the depth of hate that must reside there: "Maybe it won't be a doll next time," opined the student newspaper.
In 2001, a gay student at the College of New Jersey was arrested for sending death threats to himself and a gay student group--but not before the campus community banded together to fight homophobia on campus, devoting an entire semester to a campus-wide focus on "hate crimes" and sinking both taxpayers' money and student fees into the cause.
In 2002, an Arizona State student was caught faking anti-Muslim hate crimes. He had the campus up in arms after reporting that he had been pelted with eggs by students shouting racial epithets. But then he was found lying on the floor of a men's room, in the very act of faking another hate crime against himself. There was a plastic bag over his head, the word "Die" was written on his face and chest, his mouth was stuffed with paper upon which racial slurs had been written--and it had all taken place inside a stall that was locked from the inside.
There are countless similar examples. There are also countless examples of students, faculty, and administrators acting as apologists for the hoaxers.
After the New Jersey hoax was exposed, the campus remained committed to the student's trumped-up cause. "I would not want anyone to trivialize the seriousness of harassing and threatening behavior as a result of this case," the college's president said. "Whatever the source, such threats undermine our sense of safety and community." "It was a wonderfully teachable time to talk about what we face," said a college advisor who was not at all deterred by the news that the proof of campus hate had been disproved. "I hope the student body's attitude is a bit more enlightened than it was before."
At St. Cloud State, the campus lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender student organization was unwilling to give up the political edge they had gained in the wake of the alleged hate crime. Proudly touting the fact that the event had led to "a giant step forward" for campus awareness of homophobia, the group refused to credit the student's confession that she had faked her own assault, and even issued a press release stating that "We believe that the homophobic hate crime that occurred Oct. 20 at St. Cloud State University did in fact take place."
Duke's fakers had defenders, too. "The idea behind the act," one apologist explained, "is being overlooked (as is usually the case). The idea is that the University has not changed. Blacks are allowed to be enrolled here, but the idea is the equivalent of the transition from field slave to house slave."
The list goes on, and the agenda is clear. Hate crimes on campus--whether real or faked--are wonderful boons. They facilitate an agenda. They prove that racism, sexism, and homophobia really are the defining issues of our moment. They justify throwing money at campus advocacy groups, hiring minority faculty, establishing ethnic studies departments and creating diversity course requirements. They are useful tools for demanding universal mandatory sensitivity training on campus; useful, too, for convincing administrators to institute speech codes and draconian harassment policies. Student activists may be misguided at times, but they are not stupid. They see very clearly that a hate crime on campus equals a powerful lever for them. They understand that it does not matter whether a given "crime" is real or imagined, actual or staged: both are rewarded equally, sometimes even after a hoax has been exposed. Campus administrators love to mouth the platitudes of tolerance; they do so cynically, often without regard to fairness or facts. And in so doing, they have created a strong motive for student activists to produce the appearance of the hate they want so badly to fight.
Daisy Lundy's assault was either the work of a dumb bigot or a clever provocateur. The facts remain to be seen, and her story remains to be disproved: just as it would be wrong to leap to the conclusion that she is faking, so, too, is it wrong to assume automatically that her situation is simply the inevitable result of the festering racism of UVa campus culture. All that's fair to say right now is that her case is worth watching closely. And if that seems to add insult to Lundy's injuries, Lundy has the long list of campus hoaxers to thank for it.
You are inviting the inference that a particular individual engaged in entirely unethical and dishonest, perhaps criminal, behavior. Under those circumstances, it would seem to be appropriate to stick to the ascertainable facts of this particular case, rather than citing as putative "evidence" the misbehavior of other people at other times and places. What those people did or didn't do has no bearing on what Ms. Lundy might or might not have done. Your reluctance to turn loose of your prey is embarassing.
When and if evidence of duplicity emerges, then trumpet it as loudly as you want. If on the other hand, it turns out that Ms. Lundy has simply been telling the truth, then not only are you obliged to point this out, but to apologize as well.
Until there is some real evidence in this matter, silence would seem to be the most gracious and responsible course.
Norman, I disagree.
Thanks, Erin. While we don't know the facts, the story certainly stinks.
Somebody else is also the "victim" of the hate crime hysteria. Notice that the purported attacker is always that dreaded white male.
So, if this women did fake it, she's committed a kind of hate crime, hasn't she? She's contributed to an environment in which condemnation of white men is tolerated, and in the college environment this is throwing fuel on the fire.
White men do not exist to be sacrificial icons to the great crusade for diversity. White men have rights, too, believe it or not.
Watch it, Steve. You're treading awfully close to a "hate" crime. You may be forced to attend "diversity" sensitivity training and to have you mouth washed out with soap.
Reapeat after me: "White males are evil and have no rights. White males are evil and have no rights"
This isn't a court of law. It's a public forum for opinions. Erin hasn't accused anyone of anything. She's merely setting the context that there have been many such hoaxes on campuses accros the country and that this story sounds suspect.
If, in fact, this does turn out to be a hoax and everyone was "gracious and responsible", the public would never be made aware of it.
And not to pile on Norman, but I think that the other important point Erin is making is that to the extent there is typically a "rush to judgment" in such cases, it is to automatically assume that the allegations are true. And that, of course, quickly leads to grandstanding and opportunism and commitments to address the problem through sensitivity training, or speech codes, or some such. I think simply pointing out that these claims don't always bear scrutiny is a worthwhile endeavor. It's not implying that this person is or isn't lying -- it's just making sure that before the inevitable rush to weed out the perceived root cause of such attacks, someone takes the time to actually confirm that there is a problem.
As I have written in a number of published articles, the demonization of "white males" by fashionable campus loudmouths is neither accurate nor ultimately of any use to the cause of justice. In particular, I have written in very sarcastic terms about one case at Rutgers where an absurdly trivial "crime" (albeit one that really happened) triggered an official and mandatory program of thought-reform.
But in this case, one is demonizing a complainant in an assault case on no grounds other than a rather-too-gleeful sense that the demonization will prove politically useful. I daresay that if the young lady turns out to have been telling the simple truth, that would hardly constitute valid grounds for a campus thought-reform campaign. But that possibility should at leave give one pause before one jumps all over this case on the basis of nothing more than rumor-mongering.
Why not just leave it alone until the factual situation is reasonably clear?
I think the concern is that without attention being brought to this case (and others like it), if it does turn out to be a hoax, very little publicity will be brought to bear that it is a hoax, that such hoaxes are wrong, politiclly motivated, and are racially fueled and designed to impugn white males.
Even years after the Tawana Brawley non-incident, Al Sharpton still refuses to acknowledge that he was wrong.
And again, this is an opinion forum. As long as no one actually accuses anyone of a crime with the intention to defame or slander, we are free to discuss our opinions on the merits of the complaint. No witnesses have been identified to corroborate the claim; there are inconsistancies in the story - seems like reasonable interpretations can be made that do not agree with the woman's version.
Norman, I think that you are being a bit disingenous.
The diversity crowd at the university has already made up its mind and is busy making hay of the incident. The university is already at working discovering the "deeper meaning" of the incident.
So, the public vetting of the case was already begun.
You tactic reminds me of a favorite of feminists. Since I own a home in Woodstock, NY, a feminist haven, I've observed this tactic many times. Feminists make our personal lives into a political issue. They assert that domestic violence is a crisis in our community, based on some purported incident.
Respond to that issue, and those same feminists assert that you are hurting poor (insert a female name) by refusing to consider her sensitive feelings. You are, of course, "blaming the victim," which we are assured is a thoroughly reprehensible thing. So, it's a political issue when one side wants to make it into one, but not when the other side replies in kind.
I am not accusing you of anything, nor am I standing in judgment of the woman who has made this charge. Such charges were long ago made expressly criminal and public by the feminist/diversity crowd. Thus, such charges must bear the burden of critical scrutiny and even (gasp) cynical disbelief.
Walking home from work, I realized just how clear this issue is.
Casting certain alleged crimes as "hate crimes" makes those crimes political issues. Had this woman reported a simple assault to the police, and had the police treated the issue as simple assault, no political issue would be involved.
Hate crimes are political crimes. How can you detach the political controversy from this alleged crime? Better that the student had been treated as if she had reported a simple assault. No one would be doubting her veracity.
The point is this: suppose that the young lady in question is telling the absolute, unadorned truth, and that the motives of her attacker are those of a political and racial terrorist. Nothing in tis hypothesis would add weight to calls for ritualistic displays of collective guilt, such as many schools are wont to favor, nor would anything be added to the notion--silly and even dangerous in my book--that there ought to be a special category of "hate crime," which compounds an otherwise illegal action by attributing a certain kind of motive to it.
The situation is, however, symmetrical. If she is, hypothetically, lying, this adds no particular force to objections to pious campus rituals designed to show unanimity around the proposition that mean people suck. Neither does it buttress arguments against the category of "hate crime." These positions derive from general principals, not from nose counts of notorious incidents. If, hypothetically, this or any other similar incident was faked, it impeaches the culture and atmosphere created by some academics and some administrators, and their tendency to let cliches do their thinking for them. But that of course merges with a far larger point: nobody should let anyone's cliches do their thinking for them. And this includes cliches about clever fanatics faking atrocities in order to exploit the supposedly PC atmosphere.
So far as I'm concerned, what we have here is a complaint about a crime. If there's evidence of it, put the perp in the slammer if you can, without any hysteria about collective guilt. If for some reason (and I haven't seen any evidence that points this way) the complaint is phony, then deal with that as a criminal matter, which it is. (I.e., no post-facto rationalizations a la Patricia Williams.) End of story, pretty much.