Hillary and the Clitoridectomy hoax

Posted: Sep 18, 2002 12:00 AM
Being a feminist means never having to say you're sorry. Witness The Great Clitoridectomy Hoax -- brought to you by the unapologetic, estrogen-fueled brigade of Gloria Steinem, Julia Roberts and Hillary Clinton. In 1997, a West African woman calling herself "Adelaide Abankwah" entered the U.S. illegally. She was a perfect, politically correct poster child for the American feminist cause. Too perfect. "Abankwah" landed on our shores from Ghana. She told immigration authorities at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City that she was the daughter of the dead "Queen Mother" of a Ghanaian tribe, the "Nkumssa," which allegedly practiced female genital mutilation. The young "Princess Abankwah" said she feared she would be involuntarily subjected to a cutting ritual, known as a clitoridectomy, if tribal members discovered she had engaged in premarital sex. "If the elders find out I am not a virgin, they will never forgive me and they will cut my clitoris," "Abankwah" told The New York Times. When the Immigration and Naturalization Service challenged "Abankwah's" story and detained her, women's groups, churches and Marie Claire magazine rallied to the alleged princess' side. Steinem, Roberts, New York Democrats Charles Schumer and Carolyn Maloney, and then-first lady Hillary Clinton soon joined the campaign to "Free Adelaide" -- and to open the floodgates to every illegal alien claiming fear of female genital mutilation. A lower federal court rejected "Abankwah's" asylum claim, saying her personal fear did not constitute societal persecution. But the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan reversed the ruling in the summer of 1999 and set the "queen" free. At a triumphal press conference, Steinem lambasted "Abankwah's" doubters and praised her new cause celebre as a "wonderful woman who we should be grateful to have as a citizen." But INS investigators had gathered overwhelming evidence that this royal highness was a royal joker. "Adelaide Abankwah" was actually Regina Norman Danson, a Ghanaian hotel worker whom the INS concluded had stolen the real Abankwah's identity and cooked up her persecution story to increase her chances of gaining asylum. According to sworn INS affidavits and evidence, Danson's mother was alive and well when Danson made her asylum claim; she and her mom had never been members of the Nkumssa tribe; and there was no tradition of female genital mutilation in the region where Danson had lived and worked in Ghana. Although The Washington Post exposed the hoax in 2000 and Danson admitted falsifying her identity, no effort was made to deport Danson or charge her with fraud -- reportedly because of pressure from Hillary Clinton, who "was very helpful" to Danson's cause, according to the bogus royal's feminist cheerleaders. The Danson case languished until last week, when federal prosecutors filed fraud charges against her in the last days before the statute of limitations expired. Her lawyer, Kenneth Montgomery, told me that Danson will fight the charges and that she stands by her unbelievable story. Yet, Montgomery himself was not sure whether Danson's mother was dead or alive -- and he declined to say whether he knew if Danson was ever a member of the Nkumssa tribe. Montgomery argues that even if Danson wasn't a member of the razor-wielding Nkumssa tribe, "it would not be dispositive" (that's lawyer talk for "Who cares about the facts?"). Meanwhile, the feminist groups who championed Danson have now disappeared. A spokesperson for Hillary Clinton would only comment that it would be "upsetting" if the fraud charges stand. According to the real Adelaide Abankwah's lawyer, I. Jay Fredman, whom I interviewed in my book, "Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores": "Danson ruined my client's life, embarrassed her family, and ruined the credibility of all bona fide asylum seekers. Everybody -- Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem, Chuck Schumer -- got sucked in. They saw a good story and it didn't matter whether it was true." Female truth mutilation is, of course, nothing new. The outrage is that we continue to allow our asylum policies to be exploited by liars, cheats, terrorists and political opportunists at the expense of the truly oppressed.