It is no secret that a disturbing number of alleged incidents of “hate” on campuses around the nation have been frauds of one kind or another, many of them designed to demonstrate the need for constant vigilance against hate. Googling “hate” and “fraud” or variations will return more information than you will want to review, but a useful Associated Press article last year summarizing some of it last year begins by noting:
More than 20 hate crime hoaxes have been suspected or confirmed at college campuses nationwide in the past seven years as students draw on the socially conscious atmosphere of a college campus to perpetrate their fraud.
There is still no way to know whether the Daisy Lundy and Amey Adkins incidents at the University of Virginia over the past several years (written about extensively here), as well as others, were fraudulent or not, although the suspicion is widespread if largely unspoken. As the AP article noted:
“A person who is a victim of a hate crime can probably expect to get almost universal sympathy on a college campus. Out in the world at large, that’s not necessarily true,” said Mark Potok, who has researched hate crime for the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“But on a college campus, you are very likely to get the support of the administration, the faculty and virtually all the students. It tends to put you in the limelight very quickly.”
UVa is certainly a case study of the above, complete with presidential exhortations, candlelight vigils, black armbands, etc. A striking case in point is an editorial, “Sustaining the Fight Against Hate,” that appeared in the Cavalier Daily yesterday. I’m sure it was written in good faith by some earnest student who means well, or at least to do good. Still, someone whose purpose was less noble, whose avowed intent was to write an editorial designed to enoourage the fraudulent reporting of hate incidents, would write an editorial that looks very much like this one.
First, as is very clear in the first two paragraphs, there is almost tangible disappointment that there have been no hate incidents lately, or at least no reported ones:
As midterm season hit, a funny thing happened around Grounds: A lot of people seemed to forget about the barrage of hate incidents which consumed the University during September. The lack of reported events has no doubt contributed to the energy being sucked out of the movement for change, though it’s hard to believe that such acts have stopped altogether. If this semester is to be different from all the others in which early uproar petered to futility, we must reinvigorate the community and turn momentum into concrete action before the outrage runs out of gas.
In September, it was hard to walk through a dining hall and not hear mention of various reprehensible incidents of bias. There was a palpable air of concern that manifested itself in black ribbons and “I will not tolerate intolerance” flyers. Yet Grounds today very much resembles the Grounds of April, and with a few exceptions, a newcomer would hardly know that anything had happened
“This is not unusual,” the author, who is obviously well versed in life cycle of hate crime incidents.
Following both the Daisy Lundy attack and the Amey Adkins vandalism of the previous two years respectively, short-term furor rapidly died down except among the activists. While some positive shifts came about as a result, the current situation is a testament to relatively meager progress. If we want to recapture this year’s momentum, the conversation cannot be allowed to dissipate in either reporting or ideas.
Well, we certainly wouldn’t want the conversation about race — or rather, racism and racists — to dissipate, would we? How do we keep this from happening? Your editorialist knows:
There is no better way to keep the community involved than vigilantly reporting acts of hate. For better or for worse, people are largely reactionary; for a sustained University-wide effort, it is important to remind the community why we are fighting and what we are fighting for. This means that affected students must report their experiences — to the police, to the administration, to The Cavalier Daily.
The edit then peters out into a plea for “concrete” proposals, and provides an almost humorous discussion of “dorm choice” as one of these (in one set of dorms inhabited by first year students “minorities made up just 12 percent” of the students, while in another set minorities were 30 per cent), but the author refrains from taking a stand on this festering problem.
By then, however, the point has been made: keeps those reports of hate rolling in to prevent yet more energy being sucked out of the movement for change, to prevent the conversation from dissipating.
Increasingly, intense diversiphiles remind me of intense audiophiles: they are both so intent on the imperfections, on the static, on the sometimes almost inaudible scratches on the surface of things that they can no longer hear the music.