Note: this column contain language that may be offensive to some readers.
Ever since self-defacing teenager Tawana Brawley smeared feces all over herself, scrawled "KKK" and "nigger" on her skin, climbed into a trash bag, and blamed it on racist cops in New York, America has been victimized by wannabe victims -- warped publicity-seekers so desperate for attention that they'll fake the hate by any means necessary.
Brawley (who now calls herself Maryam Muhammad) is all grown up. But her psychologically stunted heirs continue to soak up public sympathy and squander police resources. Recent media attention has focused on the pathetic case of Audrey Seiler, a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who reportedly faked her own abduction and sent 150 cops on an intensive manhunt. The search ended when law enforcement authorities discovered Seiler in a marsh two miles from her home. A store surveillance tape revealed that Seiler herself had purchased a knife, duct tape and rope found at the "crime" scene.
Experts have compared Seiler to Brawley, but the analogy does not quite fit. There will always be lone troubled hoaxers like Seiler who abuse a community's compassion for bizarre personal gratification. What made the Brawley case truly distinct and despicable, however, was its underlying political agenda. Brawley and her race card-playing patrons, Al Sharpton, Alton Maddox and C. Vernon Mason, maliciously smeared innocent white men to falsely reinforce the notion of America as an unredeemable oppressor of females and minorities. This vicious strain of Tawana Brawleyism is alive and well on college campuses. In these educational temples of the perpetually aggrieved, rationality and truth have been recklessly sacrificed at the altar of diversity.
I've reported before on the hate crime hoax phenomenon at Arizona State University (where Muslim student Ahmad Saad Nasim faked assaults against himself to exploit the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks) and at the University of Mississippi (where black students falsely blamed racist vandalism against fellow black students on whites). The latest case of apparently manufactured racism involves left-wing academic Kerri Dunn. On March 9, the Claremont McKenna College visiting professor of psychology claimed she discovered anti-Semitic, anti-black, anti-woman epithets ("kike," "nigger lover" and "whore") spray-painted on her 1992 Honda Civic. The car's windows were smashed and the tires slashed. Dunn had been a vocal critic of other alleged racist incidents on campus. After she reported the incident, administrators and students rallied around Dunn; classes were cancelled at all five of the Claremont Colleges; local and federal authorities launched an investigation.
Things started smelling funny when so many students didn't even know what "kike" meant that the campus rabbi had to put out an explanatory press release. Dunn, for that matter, isn't even Jewish. She is a Catholic "considering" converting to Judaism. So how did Dunn's purported assailants know this? She explained that the attack -- which she called "a well-planned-out act of terrorism" -- must have been committed by her own students, who knew of her plans to convert. More irksome questions arose. How did the assailants know which car on the campus parking lot was hers? The students must have followed her, Dunn said. And what about the $1,700 in property she told police had been stolen, which mysteriously turned up in Dunn's possession? No explanation.
The final blow to Dunn's credibility came when Claremont police and the FBI concluded that Dunn the victim was also the victimizer. Giving new meaning to the phrase "auto vandalism," two witnesses told investigators that they saw Dunn drive her car -- adorned with the offending graffiti -- into a parking lot and smash the car's windows and slash the tires herself. Investigators and administrators say the witnesses are credible and (unlike Dunn) have no agenda.
As is typical in these cases, the perpetrator and her loyal supporters are in denial. Dunn, who was involved in past tangles with the law over shoplifting charges, blames the police for being irresponsible and "irreparably damag(ing) her reputation and emotional health." Minority students shrug at the fraud. "I'm not concerned with whether it's a hoax or not," said Pomona College junior Adam Briggs of the Pan-African Student Association.
Of course not. When it comes to smearing America, as Tawana Brawley taught us all so well, the end always justifies the manufactured means.