When the national press trumpets its tales of white hate crimes, are the underlying realities more likely to turn out to be genuine examples of white racist criminality, Jussie Smollett-like hate hoaxes, or something in between?
I’ve finally come up with a fair methodology for answering this question that’s at the heart of the National Conversation we are finally having on just how honest is the purported White Terror we’ve been hearing about since 2016.
The New York Times, for example, in a rare admission that fake hate even exists, recently reassured its shaken readers:
Despite the headlines that have dominated the news cycle since, fake hate crime reports are uncommon. Hoaxes are not tracked formally, but the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, said that of an estimated 21,000 hate crime cases between 2016 and 2018, fewer than 50 reports were found to be false. The center believes that less than 1 percent of all reported hate crimes are false.
In other words, the Times assumes, the burden of proof should be on their skeptics, not on them.
On the other hand, those of us of a less credulous turn of mind long ago noticed that a striking percentage of the hate stories that the national media obsesses over don’t quite pan out. Many aren’t full-blown false-flag conspiracies like Jussie’s, but the facts, when finally revealed, often don’t support The Narrative of White Hate.
Hoaxes as elaborate as the Empire TV star’s are rare, but it’s hardly uncommon for, say, the perpetrator to turn out to be nonwhite, or the act, such as posting a flyer mentioning “It’s okay to be white,” to be not (yet, at least) a crime, or for the motives to be murkier than you’d imagine from reading Southern Poverty Law Center fund-raising junk mail.
Egged on by the moneyed SPLC (endowment recently up to $432.7 million), the prestige press in late 2016 launched a vast campaign of hate about how hateful straight white male Trump voters were carrying out countless hate crimes against minorities.
But what percentage of these press allegations have since been validated?
The methodological issue is, how do we keep advocates from memory-holing contrary data?
My solution is to use The New York Times’ own “This Week in Hate” columns. I let the pinnacle of Establishment respectability take their best shot, curating their own list of hate crimes from across the country. I then evaluate how The New York Times did.
On Nov. 29, 2016, the NYT began running “This Week in Hate” under the announcement:
This Week in Hate tracks hate crimes and harassment around the country since the election of Donald Trump. The Southern Poverty Law Center and other groups are keeping detailed counts of harassment and abuse. We will regularly present a selection of incidents to show the scope of the problem.
Keep in mind that The New York Times didn’t try to be fair in selecting items for its “This Week in Hate” column. For example, the mob of leftist ski-bum Middlebury students who attacked Charles Murray and put a woman professor in the hospital didn’t qualify. Nor did the Berkeley Antifa assault on a female fan of Milo Yiannopoulos. And philosophy instructor Eric Clanton banging seven Trump supporters on the noggin with his heavy bike lock never made “This Week in Hate.”
No, the contents of “This Week in Hate” were instead chosen to make it appear that pro-Trump whites were running amok.
With the advantage of hindsight, how well did the NYT do at its self-assigned task?
For the purposes of this essay, I analyzed all 21 incidents in the second (12/6/16) and third (12/13/16) weeks of “This Week in Hate,” looking for pro and con evidence that has accumulated in the 26 months since on the validity of the NYT’s accounts. (I skipped the first week, assuming it was better to let the NYT get into its stride. I encourage other researchers to check out the rest of “This Week in Hate,” which finally petered out in July 2017.)
How many of the 21 incidents have resulted in hate-crime convictions? How many have been shown to be a complete hoax? How many are unconfirmed by the justice system but seem plausible? How many unconfirmed occurrences are dubious?
I shall count through the 21 cases from the most valid to the most embarrassing for the NYT.
By early 2019, only two of the NYT’s 21 cases have so far worked out exactly as readers were led to expect. Here’s possibly their best example:
(1) When an interracial couple returned to their rental property in Cincinnati after Thanksgiving weekend, they found it badly damaged and defaced with swastikas, a racial slur and the words “white power.”
The white man responsible later pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime, so I count this one as correct for the NYT.
Nonetheless, the Times spun the story to make it sound like random white terrorism solely due to the perp being outraged by the victims’ interracial marriage.
In reality, the victims had been the criminal’s landlords. They had just evicted him for not paying his rent. He quickly came back to get classic Bad Tenant vengeance on his former place, pouring concrete down the toilet.
Perhaps this example suggests that we might distinguish between “hate crimes” motivated solely by demographic characteristics and “anger crimes” that start off in a personal beef and merely incidentally proceed on to disgraceful racist insults?
Also, the criminal had already been convicted for similar graffiti in 2013, so it’s hard to attribute his 2016 crimes to Trump.
Finally, it’s difficult to square this case with the fashionable doctrine of White Privilege. The bad guy here is not a Great White Defendant, such as a UVA fraternity leader or a Duke lacrosse player, he’s just some loser who can’t pay his rent.
A second crime of the NYT’s 21 was fairly similar:
(2) On Saturday, a Muslim police officer and her teenage son were accosted in Brooklyn by a man who yelled “go back to your country” and shoved the boy. The officer had received a medal in 2014 for saving a baby from a fire. A man has been charged with a hate crime in the case.
The arrested man was a blue-collar white neighbor walking his pit bull. (He was also charged with letting go of the leash and telling his beast to “sic ’em.”)
Unfortunately, I can’t find any accounts of the outcome of legal proceedings, nor of how the shoving match between the arrested man and the 16-year-old youth began.
Was this a true hate crime carried out at random against Muslims, or another anger crime that started out more personally?
The arrested man appears to have died at home recently.
While some mysteries remain, I will chalk it up as legit.
Another twelve of the NYT’s 21 cases do not appear to have led to arrests. I will list those in order of shrinking plausibility, with five striking me as likely supporting the NYT’s Narrative and seven likely undermining it. Your evaluations, however, may differ.
To begin with the most plausible-sounding unproven allegation:
(3) A dead pig was dumped in the parking lot of a mosque in Lawton, Okla., last Tuesday night. Islam prohibits pork consumption, and the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is asking the F.B.I. to investigate the incident as a hate crime.
As you may have noticed, purported hate crimes tend to be reported the most often in the most anti-Trump parts of the country. For example, Jussie is said to have instructed the Nigerian weightlifting bros to shout, “This is MAGA country,” even though Hillary beat Trump 84–13 in the Windy City.
Lawton, however, is a small city of about 100,000 in central Oklahoma. That really is MAGA country. Trump carried Lawton’s Comanche County 59–35 over Clinton.
Nobody has been arrested for this incident. But it was caught on grainy videotape. And it seems unlikely to have been a false flag because devout Muslims wouldn’t touch a pig carcass. More likely than a hoax, perhaps an anti-Muslim nonwhite carried it out, since 40 percent of Lawton’s population is nonwhite.
Overall, though, my best guess is that a white Trump supporter did it.
Here’s another red-state case that also doesn’t set off my plausibility alarms:
(4) A resident of Greenwood, Ind., notified police on Tuesday that a racial slur had been spray-painted on the side of his house. He had also received a note stating that his family were not welcome and that this was “Trump country.” The incident has been reported to the FBI as a possible hate crime.
A number of similar cases have turned out to be self-inflicted hoaxes, but this doesn’t seem to be one of them. I found online reports from local newspapers of similar-sounding cases of graffiti appearing on the homes of nonwhites in Greenwood, ranging from before the election through early 2018. Greenwood is 92 percent white and Trump won the county 68–28. So my assumption is that a few white vandals are picking on minorities in Greenwood.
(5) A uniformed MTA worker wearing a hijab was called a “terrorist” by a man while riding the 7 train in Manhattan. The man followed her into Grand Central Terminal and pushed her to the ground; she was treated for leg injuries.
The NYPD released a police sketch: It’s the usual picture of a hoodie-wearing youngish man with cruelly handsome high cheekbones who is not black. But whether he is white, Latino, Middle Eastern, or whatever is indeterminate.
There aren’t as many crazy people in Manhattan as there were in the late 20th century, but there are still some. I’d call this one a definite possibility for being valid, but we’ll likely never know for sure.
Then there are the two letters:
(6) Brandon Marshall, a Denver Broncos linebacker who had knelt during the national anthem at games this season, received a threatening letter full of racial slurs last week. “We are ‘channeling’ a devastating hard hit for you,” the sender wrote. “Something to make you an invalid in a wheel chair.” The security staff of the Broncos is investigating the letter.
Nothing more has come of this since.
As Jussie Smollett’s letter showed, it’s easy to fake a racist letter. On the other hand, the Colin Kaepernick kneeling stunt got all sorts of people all worked up, so I can easily believe this actually happened.
(7) A mosque in Providence and one in Wayland, Mass. received letters saying Donald Trump is “going to do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews.” The same message was sent in November to several other mosques.
A local newspaper reported:
The letter is a photocopy of letters sent to mosques around the country, said Wayland Police Lt. Patrick Swanick. If the letter had been addressed to the mosque specifically, or if the person had made a direct threat, the letter would be more serious, he said. “There was no genuine threat, it wasn’t specific as to what the person planned to do,” he said. “It looks like the work of a crazy person.”
I find each of these first seven cases (two solved, five unsolved) more likely than not.
Next are seven unsolved cases that each seems more dubious than plausible. These include six swastika graffiti incidents, five in blue states and one on a college campus in a blue city.
First, graffiti is usually the product of low-IQ juvenile delinquents, so it’s questionable whether The New York Times should get itself worked up over examples from distant places.
Second, one problem is that if, say, the name “Trump” and a swastika are found together, it could be the work of:
—a pro-Trump neo-Nazi,
—or a false flag,
—or, perhaps most likely, the work of an anti-Trumpist accusing Trump of being Literally Hitler.
(8) A swastika and the word “Trump” were found on a blackboard in a middle school classroom at the William H. Lincoln School in Brookline, Mass. last Wednesday.
First, it’s a middle school, so the graffiti artist was likely about 13 years old. Is this truly national news?
Second, Brookline makes Chicago look like MAGA country. Hillary carried Brookline 88–12. The hometown of JFK, Brookline has always been wealthy, Jewish, and liberal. Wikipedia notes:
“Serving as a residential zone for nearby academic and medical institutes such as Harvard Medical School and Boston University, the town of Brookline was reported as the city with the most doctoral degree holders (14.0% of the total population) in the United States…. Brookline…is a cultural hub for the Jewish community of Greater Boston.
Another similar case in the NYT:
(9) Last Tuesday and Wednesday, the staff at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, a public high school in Cambridge, Mass., found three swastikas drawn in boys’ bathrooms.
Hillary beat Trump 89–7 in Cambridge, home of Harvard and MIT. Famous graduates of this school include movie star Ben Affleck, NYC mayor Bill de Blasio, and the Tsarnaev Bomb Brothers.
(10) A faculty member at the University of Nebraska at Omaha found a swastika, an anti-Semitic slur and the words “make America great again” carved into a bathroom wall on campus last Thursday.
Nebraska is a red state, but Omaha is the seat of Douglas County, which went narrowly for Clinton in 2016. Moreover, leftist hate hoaxes on college campuses have been fairly common over the past fifteen years.
(11) On Saturday morning, police were called to a Korean Presbyterian church in Buena Park, Calif., to investigate swastikas painted on a wall.
Orange County used to be Republican, but demographic change tipped it solidly for Hillary. Buena Park High School is only 8 percent white, so the odds are that graffiti in modern Buena Park is the hobby of Hispanic hooligans.
(12) Surveillance video captured in downtown Los Angeles last Tuesday shows a man spray-painting a swastika on a building. Residents of the area say they have found swastikas on multiple buildings nearby.
This is on a tenuously gentrifying street on the scruffy east side of downtown. The swastika was spray-painted on top of other gang graffiti.
Unlike the previous examples, I could imagine that this event could have modest news value. For instance, it might have been carried out by an adult political activist. But the notion that a white-power gang member would drive in eighty miles from, say, Hemet to spray-paint a swastika on a dead-end downtown street seems doubtful.
For example, last year, Mexican protesters tried to drive out of Boyle Heights a new kosher café opened by a Trump-supporting Israeli. So, the notion that local Chicanos might use Nazi symbols as part of their ongoing campaign against affluent gentrifiers (often Jewish) seems no more outlandish than the respectable implication that a Nazi gang stalks downtown L.A.
(13) On November 29, a visitor to Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg, Md., found a swastika drawn on a bathroom wall. Local police are still investigating a previous incident at the school, in which the football field was vandalized with a swastika.
The school is half white, half minority in liberal Montgomery County, which went 75–19 for Hillary. A student was caught a half year later drawing a swastika on his desk with a pencil, but his name was not released. Once again, this doesn’t sound like national news.
And then there is this colorful anecdote:
(14) The home in Moonachie, N.J., of Nikita Whitlock, a fullback for the New York Giants, was vandalized last Tuesday night with swastikas, the phrase “KKK” and the word “Trump.” Police are investigating the vandalism as a hate crime.
The NYT leaves out the relevant detail that Whitlock, a scrappy undersized marginal player who filled in at special teams, fullback, and defensive tackle for the 2015 Giants, was serving his second suspension from the NFL for using Performance Enhancing Drugs. His ten-game layoff was costing him $205,000 in salary and he was headed toward the end of his NFL career.
I don’t know what the true story is (my commenters speculate extensively here), but I sure don’t believe Whitlock’s original claim. However, unlike Kaepernick, Whitlock clearly loves football, so he’s currently playing in the Canadian league, where he recently signed a contract through 2020. I kind of hope it works out for him.
And the last seven of the NYT’s 21 are complete disasters for the NYT’s Narrative.
In three, the victims were Trump supporters. In two cases, the NYT tried to obfuscate to confuse readers into assuming they were pro-Trump crimes.
(15) In Burtonsville, Md., three cars in a driveway were vandalized with swastikas and the words “Trump” and “racist.” Police, who were called to investigate last Wednesday, said the vandalism was probably motivated by the homeowner’s political beliefs.
A local newspaper reported, however:
The homeowner’s political affiliation may be the motive for the vandalism, officers said. “There was no Trump signs or paraphernalia prominently displayed in the yard, but detectives believe, based on their initial investigation, that the homeowner’s political affiliation was well known without the need for signs being posted,” Officer Rick Goodale with Montgomery County Police told WTOP.
Similarly, the NYT reported:
(16) In Pasco, Wa., last Wednesday, a man was stabbed in the throat after a conversation about Donald Trump turned violent. The victim had allegedly called the suspect a racial slur.
But the victim of the stabbing was the Trump supporter and the suspect was a Latino who was booked on first-degree assault.
In the third such case, the perp was so notoriously anti-Trump that even the NYT had to admit it:
(17) The actor T.J. Miller was arrested on Friday after allegedly hitting an Uber driver in an argument over Donald Trump. Mr. Miller has been critical of Mr. Trump in the past; during an October television appearance, he attempted to burn a Trump-brand tie.
Interestingly, the Trump-hating actor (formerly of Silicon Valley) is white, while the assaulted Trump-supporting driver, Wilson Deon Thomas III, sounds like he might be black. (Miller has since been arrested again, for allegedly phoning in a bomb threat against an Amtrak train.)
And then there were three cases in which the perps were nonwhite.
In one case of a nonwhite stabber, the initial reports were confused and the NYT shouldn’t be blamed too much for being misleading:
(18) A man was stabbed near a mosque in Simi Valley, Calif. on Saturday night. One man has been arrested on suspicion of a hate crime in the incident, and police are looking for another suspect. The victim was reportedly in stable condition on Monday.
Ultimately, a Latino ne’er-do-well was sentenced to sixteen years for the stabbing in a drunken brawl. His white running mate received a misdemeanor conviction. The Latino stabber was not convicted of a hate-crime charge because his attorney convinced the jury that his regrettable behavior was due to anger, not hate. The Ventura County Star reported in 2017:
But the jury exonerated De La Cruz of a hate crime….
Prosecutors said De La Cruz and a friend, John Matteson, 30, also of Simi Valley, began arguing with members of the mosque after Matteson was denied the use of a restroom inside the center.
In a second Wrong Race case, the NYT first confidently announced:
(19) Last Friday, a student at Nassau Community College on Long Island notified security of swastikas and the words “Germany” and “Heil Hitler” drawn in a men’s restroom. A security guard had found separate swastikas in a stairwell and on a wall last Wednesday, and three other incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti were reported in October.
But shortly afterward, a cretinous-looking Punjabi named Jasskirat Saini was arrested for the graffiti. The NYT grudgingly followed up in January 2017 with an uninformative admission:
On Dec. 20, This Week in Hate reported on swastikas found at Nassau Community College in Nassau County, N.Y. A 20-year-old man has been charged with aggravated harassment in connection with the swastikas and many other anti-Semitic drawings. Police said they caught the man drawing swastikas at the college.
The third example from late 2016 of a nonwhite malefactor involved future political star Ilhan Omar, the Somali Muslim Democrat who was later elected to the House in 2018:
(20) Ilhan Omar, a newly elected Minnesota state representative and the country’s first Somali-American legislator, was harassed last Tuesday by a cab driver in Washington, D.C. He called her “ISIS” and threatened to remove her hijab. Ms. Omar was in Washington to attend a planning session for Democrats at the White House.
True believers in the NYT’s Narrative can instantly picture some Archie Bunker-like straight white male cabbie swearing Fascist allegiance to Trump and viciously threatening the stunning and brave Muslim woman. Except…how many white Trump-voting cabdrivers are there in Washington, D.C., these days?
First, Hillary defeated Trump 91–4 in D.C. Second, I don’t recall ever having a white American cabdriver in D.C. Most seem to be African immigrants.
Indeed, as Omar later admitted, her angry cabbie was “East African with a thicker accent.” His not very Middle American name is Uka O. Onuma. Omar got her fellow East African’s license suspended for 45 days.
But, no doubt, in some higher moral sense, the fact that East African immigrants are carrying on their ancient sectarian and tribal vendettas in America has to be Trump’s fault. I mean, we can’t blame immigrants for anything, can we? After all, they are who we are.
Finally, one of the 21 was later admitted by the Times to be an utter hoax:
(21) Last Thursday, a Muslim woman was attacked on the 6 train in Manhattan by three men who called her a terrorist, mentioned Donald Trump and attempted to rip off her hijab. “No one said a thing,” she said of her fellow subway riders. “Everyone just looked away.”
Update: This story has been updated to include new information about a woman who said she was attacked on the 6 train in Manhattan.
As I count them, of the 21 incidents carefully curated by the NYT to demonstrate that white Trumpists are waging a war of hate on the true Americans:
Two are more or less proven.
Five are unproven but more likely than not.
Seven are unproven and more unlikely than not.
And seven are disproven.
So, the nation’s Newspaper of Record got at least an average of one out of three of its “This Week in Hate” stories right. On the other hand, the facts in another one out of three cases undermine the NYT’s Narrative.
For the Times to be right on merely a simple majority (11 of 21) of its handpicked stories of white Trump criminality, four of the seven unlikely incidents would have to turn out to be true.
Therefore, the Times probably failed to reach even 50 percent accuracy.
Doing this kind of research is slow. I spent close to an hour on each incident. So I stopped after two editions of “This Week in Hate.” But future researchers wishing to extend my work will have rich pickings, such as this jaw-dropping paragraph from the Jan. 11, 2017, “This Week in Hate”:
Four people have been charged with a hate crime, among other charges, in the beating in Chicago of a teenager with mental disabilities, which was broadcast on Facebook Live on January 3. The video shows one of the suspects shouting about Donald Trump and “white people.”
But The New York Times believes its subscribers should not have their delicate racial prejudices about who are the Good Guys and who are the Bad Guys challenged by too much truth.
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