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Manhattan Institute

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Hate Crime Hoaxes Are More Common Than You Think

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Hate Crime Hoaxes Are More Common Than You Think

The Wall Street Journal June 26, 2019
OtherCulture & Society
RaceOther

A political scientist found that fewer than 1 in 3 of 346 such allegations was genuine.

When I asked Wilfred Reilly about last week’s appointment of a special prosecutor in Chicago to take up the Jussie Smollett case, he was cautiously optimistic. Mr. Reilly is author of a new book, “Hate Crime Hoax,” in which he details how the initial publicity for supposed hate crimes tends all but to disappear if the allegations are exposed as fake.

So does the sustained press coverage of Mr. Smollett—the television actor who was accused of staging an attack on himself back in January, only to have all 16 felony counts against him abruptly dropped for reasons that prosecutors have never made clear—represent progress of sorts?

“It’s the archetype of a hate crime hoax. It’s one of the most flamboyant examples of the genre,” said Mr. Reilly, himself a Second City native. An openly gay black man residing in one of the country’s most liberal and diverse metropolises is set upon by two white Donald Trump supporters who brandish bleach and a noose while shouting racial and antigay slurs? “It was a situation so extreme and bizarre that I think we would have had to look at how much racial progress the U.S. had actually made had it really occurred.” The appointment of a special prosecutor, and the possibility of bringing new charges against Mr. Smollett, is a good sign, Mr. Reilly added, “but will we see the same amount of coverage when the hoax involves a less famous person?”

Continue reading the entire piece here at The Wall Street Journal (paywall)

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Jason L. Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, and a Fox News commentator. Follow him on Twitter here.

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

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