America's dramatic rise in 'hate crimes' has a surprisingly logical explanation
is an author and social commentator. He is an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent in Canterbury. Author of How Fear Works: The Culture of Fear in the 21st Century. Follow him on Twitter @Furedibyte
At a time when the mere hint of a badly worded sentence invites accusations of racism, many race entrepreneurs feel incentivised to fabricate claims of incidents that can provoke howls of outrage.
This week’s election for the post of governor of Virginia saw just how the phenomenon of a race hoax works. Supporters of the Lincoln Project – an anti-Trump advocacy group – dressed up as Neo-Nazi white supremacists and, clutching tiki torches, photographed themselves next to the campaign bus of the Republican candidate, Glenn Youngkin. Chanting “we’re all in for Glenn,” they sought to promote the impression that a vote for Youngkin was a vote for racial hatred.
The hoax provoked the intended reaction of outrage. “To my fellow Virginia residents,” tweeted NBC’s legal analyst, Glenn Kirschner, “please vote against this blatant display of racism, hatred and intolerance. Please vote FOR a kind, welcoming, diverse Virginia. Please vote @TerryMcAuliffe for governor. Because #JusticeMatters.” The tweet was subsequently deleted.
The Lincoln Project’s dirty trick soon got the Jewish Democratic Council of America on board. It published a tweet – also subsequently deleted – demanding that Youngkin condemn the tiki torchbearers or risk being denounced for endorsing anti-Semitism.Also on rt.com Virginia should be a massive wake-up call for the Democrats… but they aren’t listening
More broadly, Democrats were quick to exploit the performance of the Lincoln Project as an illustration that their opponents’ political base was steeped in white supremacy. America’s cultural fixation with race means that they are primed to perceive episodes of racism in the most innocuous of settings. The race hoax perpetrated by the Lincoln Project was designed to feed the American media’s voracious appetite for sensational incidents of hate crimes.
In recent times, the most widely reported alleged race hoax involved the black American actor Jussie Smollett, who claimed he was assaulted in the early hours of the morning in Chicago by two men wearing MAGA hats. He insisted that he was subjected to homophobic and racial slurs and that some unknown chemical substance was poured on him and a noose tied around his neck.
Smollett’s account of this ‘lynching’ provoked anger, and numerous well-known public figures – including the now-Vice President Kamala Harris – lined up to demonstrate their support. Once the police discovered that Smollett apparently made up the attack – he is facing a criminal case – an embarrassed media moved on to find other instances of hate crime.
As it happens, the manufacturing of a race hoax is far from a rare event. Inventing victimhood is not uncommon, particularly within higher education. For example, in September 2017, five black students at the US Air Force Academy Preparatory School discovered racial slurs written on their doors. An investigation later found that one of the students supposedly targeted was responsible for the vandalism.
In his book, ‘Hate Crime Hoax: How the Left is Selling a Fake Race War’, published in 2019, Wilfred Reilly examined over 100 high-profile incidents of so-called hate crimes that never actually occurred. He pointed out that he was “able to rather easily assemble a data set of 409 hate hoax cases,” concentrated heavily in the previous five years. According to Reilly, his data set has since swelled to become a list of 608 unique hate hoax case studies, containing more than 800 individual incidents of hoaxes.
The fake reporting of hate crimes is encouraged by the singular focus of criminal justice agencies on this issue. In effect, hate crime has turned into a political weapon used to promote the dogma of systemic racism. The eagerness with which claims of hate crime are publicised to prove a point has created an incentive to present oneself as its victim. The proliferation of the phenomenon of race hoax is the inexorable consequence of cultural attitudes that perceive the world through the prism of racism.
The constant obsession with white privilege, whiteness, and systemic racism has created a cultural terrain that is hospitable to the flourishing of race hoaxes.
So, next time you hear that racism is on the rise and society is facing an epidemic of hate crime, take a reality check – because it may turn out that what is at issue is an epidemic of fake news.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.