Hate Crime Hoaxes in America

Jared Taylor, American Renaissance, March 1995

Crying Wolf: Hate Crime Hoaxes in America, Laird Wilcox, Editorial Research Service, 1994, 128 pp.

Any country that makes heroes out of victims of “hate crimes” is bound to produce some false heroes. Crying Wolf, by Laird Wilcox, is probably the only full-length study of these false heroes — people who pretend to be victims of “racist” aggression in order to benefit from the sympathy that ensues. This thoughtful, informative account is based on the author’s many years of observing radical groups, both left and right.

Hate crime hoaxes are a byproduct of America’s peculiar hysteria over “racism.” Some people who stage “racist” outrages simply cannot resist the payoff: “instant fame, instant sympathy, and often in some form or another, instant compensation,” as Mr. Wilcox puts it. Others invent hate crimes to “prove” that whites are evil and to heighten racial consciousness among their own group. One first-rate racial scandal can do the work of years of propaganda.

It is impossible to say how many “hate crimes” are hoaxes, partly because this is a problem no one studies. Governments, police departments, and “anti-hate” groups carefully collect statistics on every victimization claim, so hoaxes and staged events are counted along with the real thing. Mr. Wilcox cannot find evidence of any procedure to subtract even the proven hoaxes from hate crime totals, and he suspects that many of the most common unsolved incidents — anonymous graffiti and threatening telephone calls — may well be self inflicted.

Mr. Wilcox has done informal research by asking college administrators how many of the racial incidents on their campuses are fake. He reports that replies range from “a few, not too many,” to “damned near all of them.” Whenever the victim of a real attack gets the hero treatment, imitators are likely to spring up, hoping to share the adulation.

People of all races make false claims but Mr. Wilcox reports that blacks are responsible for the largest number, followed by Jews. Interestingly, the motives of the two groups are often different.

Although some black activists, especially students, fake racial incidents to “raise consciousness about racism,” the book’s findings suggest that blacks are more likely to use a hoax to cover up something. By contrast, Jews almost invariably stage an event for its own sake.

Tawana Brawley, who is perhaps the best known of all phony victims, is probably a typical black hoaxer. In 1987 she claimed to have been abducted and raped by white policemen — but not particularly because she wanted to stir up black hatred for whites. She invented the story to explain an unexcused absence for which she feared her step father would beat her. It was her handlers — Al Sharpton and Alton Maddox — who turned the incident into anti-white propaganda.

Mr. Wilcox writes of many blacks who invent a racial incident to cover up mistakes. A black who accidentally shot himself in the hand claimed that racists had attacked him. A young man playing with gasoline burned himself and then said whites set him on fire. A woman who accidentally spilled acid on herself at a summer job claimed that racists had thrown it on her. A young man damaged the family car when he drove it into a ditch but told police whites were responsible. Another had a smash-up in a stolen car and then pretended violent racists had broken his jaw and knocked out his teeth.

Sometimes when blacks commit crimes against other blacks they try to throw the police off their trails by making the crime look like a hate crime. One killer carved “KKK” on the leg of his victim. Other blacks have burned down their own houses to get insurance money but scrawled racial insults on the premises to make it look as though whites set the fires.

Sabrina Collins, another famous hoaxer, also used fake racial incidents as a diversion. In 1990, when she was a student at Emory University, she repeatedly vandalized her dormitory room but claimed that whites had done it. In the outpouring of sympathy and attention that followed, it was all but forgotten that she had just been accused of cheating on an examination.

Mr. Wilcox’s evidence suggests that Jews rarely stage “anti-Semitic” incidents to cover up accidents or embarrassment. A more frequent motivation is the desire to heighten what they see as insufficient Jewish vigilance in a hostile Gentile world. Jews who spraypaint swastikas on synagogues are usually fanatic anti-anti-Semites who need “proof” that the world hates Jews. In Israel, West Bank settlers have been known to fire-bomb Jewish installations in the hope of provoking greater hostility towards Arabs.

At a more prosaic level, some Jews concoct hate crimes to cover up insurance fraud. In 1991, in Germantown, Maryland, Susan and Curtis Klein found their townhouse systematically vandalized, and daubed with swastikas. In the wake of wide publicity, five hundred people volunteered to help the couple clean up. Businesses donated refreshments for the volunteers, and a hauling company offered to move the debris for free. Neighbors organized a raffle to raise money for the Kleins, and newspapers printed an address to which donations could be sent. Mr. Klein’s story eventually unraveled and he was charged with insurance fraud.

In one of the sillier recent incidents, Jewish television personality Mort Downey claimed in 1989 that skinheads attacked him in an airport men’s room and carved a swastika on his face. This fraud, apparently designed to boost disappointing ratings, was quickly exposed.

Attacks on Jews, with the evocations of Nazism that often follow, can be such effective attention-getters that non-Jews have resorted to them. Mr. Wilcox reports the strange case of a Gentile who set fire to his own house and then claimed that it was the work of unknown anti-Semites who thought he was a Jew.

In another curious case, the non-Jewish owner of a Los Angeles security company desecrated a Jewish cemetery in East Los Angeles. Not detectably anti-Semitic himself, he apparently wanted to discredit the cemetery’s current security company so that his own firm could get the job.

Whites sometimes accuse blacks of imaginary crimes but it is usually for a straightforward reason: to cover up their own crimes. They implicate blacks because blacks are plausible perpetrators; they do not claim to be victims of racism. Mr. Wilcox has not found a single case of a white who implicated a black for any other reason, nor is he likely to. White victims of black crime do not become heroes, so there is no psychological payoff. Also, since white racial consciousness is largely unaroused by even the most blatant anti-white crimes, white activists have little reason to be agents provocateurs.

Although it happened too late to be included in Mr. Wilcox’s book, Susan Smith of South Carolina became famous just last year for a typical fraud: She appears to have murdered her two children and then claimed that a black man abducted them. In a similar incident in 1989, Charles Stuart of Boston shot his pregnant wife and then wounded himself, later claiming that a black had attacked them. His motive was to collect on his wife’s life insurance, and he killed himself when his story fell apart. At the outset, both hoaxers got sympathy, but not the hero treatment deserved for victims of “racism.”

Another difference between black (or Jewish) and white hoaxes is the media reaction. Coverage only intensified when Susan Smith and Charles Stuart were exposed as frauds, and they are almost as famous for “racism” as for murder. Plenty of whites agonized in print over the terrible damage these false accusations had done to race relations.

This does not happen when hoaxers seek to pin the blame on whites. They cease to be news as soon as their game is discovered — unless the original coverage was so lavish the denouement cannot be ignored. As Mr. Wilcox observes, newspaper editors downplay hoaxes to avoid “giving ammunition to racists.” Also, non-white and Jewish spokesmen almost never apologize to the community on behalf of the hoaxer.

Instead, anti-racists often try to milk a fake incident as if it were real. The lawyer William Kunstler said of the Tawana Brawley case:

It makes no difference anymore whether the attack on Tawana really happened . . . a lot of black women are treated the way she says she was treated.

When a series of well-reported “anti-Semitic” crimes was found to be the work of the “victim,” a representative of the Anti-Defamation League said:

The tragedy of Nathan Kobrin [the perpetrator] in no way discounts or diminishes the reality of increased anti-Semitism and the increase throughout society in hate crimes.

Otis Smith of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP could not help pointing out how useful Sabrina Collins’ hoax really was:

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.

Moreover, when hoaxers are caught they are usually found to be “troubled youths” who deserve leniency. A good example of this was the case of a young man who set a series of fires in synagogues and Jewish community centers in West Hartford, Connecticut in 1983. This “anti-Semite” so terrorized the community that the mayor offered a $50,000 reward for his arrest. When he was finally caught and found to be Jewish, the monster quickly became “a troubled and alienated 17-year-old,” and editorials called for understanding. The arsonist was given a suspended sentence and five years probation.

Bona fide racial vandals and arsonists get different treatment. They go to jail rather than to the psychologist. As Mr. Wilcox points out, hate crime laws have now piled so many additional penalties onto racist acts that a white who paints “nigger” on a black man’s store is likely to be more severely punished than a black who burgles it.

Mr. Wilcox argues that provocations by real racists and anti-Semites never do the perpetrators any good. The community always supports the victims and mounts a crusade for “tolerance” and “sensitivity.” Mr. Wilcox recounts the strange case of a genuine anti-Semite in Salem, Massachusetts who was caught painting over anti-Semitic graffiti on a synagogue. He said the graffiti would create a false impression of anti-Jewish hostility, which Jews would use to their advantage.

After years of observing both the radicals and the anti-radicals who combat them, Mr. Wilcox concludes that there are far fewer “racists” and other bad guys than either side would have us believe. The “hate group” haters, such as the Anti-Defamation League, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Center for Democratic Renewal have no reason to exist unless America is awash with dangerous bigots. These groups invariably magnify the threat, and their opponents happily play along.

Mr. Wilcox writes of something called the Farmers’ Liberation Army that, after national media attention in 1984, was found to have one member. As Mr. Wilcox explains, “A creative trickster with access to a photocopy machine can create havoc in a community with the help of a properly ‘sensitized’ local media on the watch for witches to burn.”

A study like Crying Wolf was long overdue. For obvious reasons, it is not published by a mainstream press, but is being distributed privately by the author. Unfortunately, it looks it. The book has a spiral binding and although it is perfectly readable, it is not typeset but printed in a typewriter font. Twenty dollars is a lot to pay for a book in this format, but the information it contains can be found nowhere else.

[Editor’s Note: For specific instances of hate crime hoaxes, see here. Also check out our map of hate crime hoaxes across the United States here.]

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