Groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center make headlines by claiming hate crimes have surged since Trump’s election, but the real surge is in hate hoaxes, especially among college students.
The day after the 2016 election, Eleesha Long, a student at Bowling Green State University, also in Ohio, said she was attacked by white Trump supporters, who threw rocks at her. Police concluded that she had fabricated the story.
That same day, Kathy Mirah Tu, a University of Minnesota student, claimed in a viral social-media post that she’d been detained by police after she fought a racist man who had attacked her. Campus and local police said that they had had no contact with her.
Again that day, a Muslim student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette made up a story about being attacked and robbed by Trump supporters, who supposedly ripped off her hijab. For weeks after Trump’s election, America was fed a series of outrageous stories of campus race-hatred that fell apart upon examination.
This hate-hoax trend has continued unabated since. In May 2017, mass “anti-racism” protests roiled St. Olaf College in Minnesota, causing classes to be canceled. Authorities discovered that Samantha Wells, a black student activist, had left a racist threat — on her own car.
In September of that year, five black students at the US Air Force Academy Preparatory School found racial slurs written on their doors. An investigation later found that one of the students targeted was responsible for the vandalism.
In November 2018, students at Goucher College in Maryland demanded social-justice training and safe spaces after “I’m gonna kill all [n - - - - s]” was discovered written in a dorm bathroom. Fynn Arthur, a black student, was responsible for the hoax.
That same month, thousands of students at Drake University in Iowa protested after racist notes turned up on campus. Kissie Ram, an Indian-American student, admitted to targeting herself and others in the hoax. She later pled guilty to making a false report to a public entity.
And there are dozens of other examples. They all point to a sickness in American society, with our institutions of higher education too often doubling as “hate-hoax mills,” encouraged by a bloated grievance industry in the form of diversity administrators.
At Oberlin, in particular, this problem precedes the Trump era. In 2013, students at the elite liberal-arts college panicked after someone reported seeing a person in a Ku Klux Klan robe on campus. The administration canceled all classes for the day.
The phantom klansman was never found, though police did find someone wrapped in a blanket. This overreaction was preceded by a month-long spate of racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay posters around campus. These, too, were found to be hoaxes.
Obsessed with identity, privilege and oppression, our institutions of higher education increasingly promote a paranoid climate of perpetual crisis. Is it surprising, then, that young men and women caught in this hothouse environment would respond to an incentive structure that rewards manufactured victimhood?