As the case of Ashley Todd reminded us again last week, racial bias crimes are almost always hoaxes. Todd is the Republican volunteer who claimed that a black man in Pittsburgh had pummeled her and carved a "B" into her cheek after spotting the "McCain-Palin" bumper stickers on her car.
A lot of people suspected the case was a hoax from the outset, including Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, who immediately said: "It could be bogus. I'm a little skeptical about this, but our duty ... is to report everything to you."
The claim was bogus, but on MSNBC, instead of citing the Todd case as further proof of the maxim "Never believe claims of racial bias until proved," the hoax hate crime led to somber discussions of -- you guessed it! -- racism in America.
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann histrionically described Todd's hoax as "a narrative straight out of Reconstruction-era, race-based fear-mongering: a black man, 6-foot, 4-inches, attacking, sexually assaulting, fondling, mutilating a young white woman."
His expert pontificator on race was The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson, who said the Pittsburgh hoax was "the blood libel against black men concerning the defilement of the flower of Caucasian womanhood. It's been with us for hundreds of years and, apparently, is still with us."
Robinson was last heard from on the subject of race crimes in his famous April 25, 2006, Post column melodramatically saying of the Duke lacrosse rape case: "It's impossible to avoid thinking of all the black women who were violated by drunken white men in the American South over the centuries. The master-slave relationship, the tradition of droit du seigneur, the use of sexual possession as an instrument of domination -- all this ugliness floods the mind, unbidden, and refuses to leave."
Note to Mr. Robinson: There's a pill you can take for that now. Makes those endless, incessant thoughts of interracial rape just go away. Ask your doctor if this new pill is right for you.
As is now well-known, the alleged gang rape of a black stripper by white lacrosse players never happened. At least Ashley Todd's hoax didn't almost ruin an actual person's life.
Meanwhile, back at Hoax Interpretation Central, Olbermann spent most of October issuing blistering denunciations of John McCain and Sarah Palin based on the claim that someone had yelled "Kill him!" in reference to Obama at a Palin campaign rally.
"There's a fine line between a smear campaign and an incitement to violence," Olbermann lectured. "If Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin have not previously crossed it this week, today even, they most certainly did."