One of the oldest rules in psychology and economics is that if you reward a behavior, you can expect to see it more often.
In America, we reward victimhood.
That makes us feel good about ourselves and in some cases, it helps improve the lives of the people who've been victimized, but there's a dark side to it as well. It creates perverse incentives for people, it helps legitimize a victimhood mentality, and it also encourages people to fake hate crimes.
Under normal circumstances, that would seldom happen. However, in a society where we celebrate victimhood and savagely attack people we decide are “bullies”, being a "victim" can potentially be the high point of someone's life. It can mean getting attention from the media, being showered with sympathy, and even making thousands of dollars.
Is it any wonder that there are unscrupulous people who take advantage of the situation?
1) The Tawana Brawley Hoax: This was the case that made Al Sharpton's career and surprise, surprise, it was all a lie.
In a healthy society, Sharpton might be on parole now — not the must-get guest for “Meet the Press” and “Today” on issues of racial justice. He was a ringleader in perpetuating the evil Tawana Brawley hoax in which he and two corrupt lawyers (now disbarred) falsely accused Assistant District Attorney Steven Pagones and others of gang-raping a 15-year-old girl in a racist attack (Brawley claimed that she’d been smeared with feces and had racist epithets written on her body). No person of any ideological stripe could doubt it was a fraud — except, that is, for the unrepentant Sharpton, who recently insisted “something happened.”
2) She wasn’t even Jewish: On the very day that College professor Kerri Dunn was supposed to speak at a campus forum on racism, she announced that she’d just been a victim of racism. That would have made for a great story....if it were true.
Dunn, a visiting psychology professor (at Claremont McKenna College), was scheduled to speak at a campus forum on racism. During her talk, she shocked the audience by announcing that she had been — that very day — the victim of a hate crime. Ta da!
Her car had been vandalized, its windows smashed, tires slashed. And profane, anti-Semitic graffiti covered the wreckage.