The current identity-politics hysteria was launched about a year ago (conveniently enough for the Obama reelection campaign) with the news that an angelic black baby named Trayvon Martin had been gunned down by white racist George Zimmerman.
In the latest brouhaha, Oberlin, a (very) liberal arts college outside of Cleveland, immediately shut down all classes Monday to hold a frenzied, Cultural Revolution-style rally against the rising tide of racism because one student claimed to have spied a one-man Ku Klux Klan rally on campus in the wee hours of the morning.
The past year reminds me of a similar frenzy in the early 1990s that Bill Clinton rode to the White House. Do you remember the “Year of the Woman,” in which Clinton (of all people) ran as the nemesis of bosses who make passes at the women who work for them? No? Well, since nobody else seems to remember the recent past, it’s worth mentioning how these manias seem to start up in conjunction with Democratic presidential campaigns, then sputter on for years.
The Year of the Woman was kicked off 13 months before the 1992 election when the Democrats trotted out Anita Hill to accuse Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexually harassing her back when they were bachelor and bachelorette. As far as I could tell, the two well-educated blacks would have made a well-suited couple, and, indeed, Anita remained on friendly terms with Clarence until after he married a white woman.
But to everybody else, Anita Hill’s office gossip was apparently the biggest news in world history. Or at least it was long enough to help get Bill and Hill into the White House, at which point the media’s interest in sexual harassment evaporated.
I pointed out back then that if sexual harassment consisted of making “unwanted sexual advances” to underlings, the Arkansas governor was surely–by the Law of Large Numbers–guilty and would eventually run into a scandal. Eventually he did in the Paula Jones lawsuit, which led to Monica Lewinsky and his impeachment. But by 1998, the press had forgotten all about Anita and the Year of the Woman.
Similarly, Oberlin’s ghostly KKKer is reminiscent of scores of campus hate fiascos of recent years. But who can remember anything?
While the college administration’s story of the campus Klansman has excited the national media, only two newspapers so far have bothered to call up the local cops to find out what really happened. One is the local North Coast Chronicle-Telegram of Lorain County, Ohio, which reported:
Oberlin College’s “Day of Solidarity” on Monday was sparked by a student who reported seeing a person wearing what appeared to be a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe near the college’s Afrikan Heritage House while driving through campus between 1 and 2 a.m.
College security officers responded to the area, but weren’t able to find a person wearing the infamous KKK garb.
Oberlin police Lt. Mike McCloskey said that authorities did find a pedestrian wrapped in a blanket. He said police interviewed another witness later in the day and that person also saw a female walking with a blanket.
Oddly enough, the other is the leftist Guardian of London, which noted:
Lt Mike McCloskey of Oberlin police told the Guardian on Monday that officers were still following up the KKK sighting, but suggested that the only witness may have been mistaken.
In other words, KKK is the new UFO.
After the 1950s, the press slowly figured out that it shouldn’t get too worked-up over flying-saucer sightings. But Klansmen on the campus of what is perhaps the most frenetically liberal college in America? How couldn’t it be true?
Seeing racists under the bed is the latest manifestation of the adolescent hysteria that triggered the Salem witch trials in 1692.
But nobody much cares whether this horrifying hate crime went through the formality of taking place. This non-event has received enormous publicity (here’s Matt Lauer talking it up on Tuesday’s Today Show), just like all the other campus hate hoaxes and hysterias, because so many people want it to be true.
The racial atmosphere in America is starting to resemble that bizarre 1980s-1990s frenzy over Satan worshippers purportedly molesting preschoolers. We live in an era in which hate-porn movies such as Django Unchained and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo win Oscars.
There is such a hunger in 2013 to sniff out racists and punish them that the actual shortage of racists is leading people to imagine that a girl in a blanket is a lone lynch mob.
It’s typical for the kind of incidents that create media furors to turn out to be hoaxes perpetrated by minorities. For example, Oberlin already had one of these tumults, complete with an official Two Minutes Hate rally, back in the 1990s. The coed who wrote an anti-Chinese slur on an Oberlin monument turned out to be Chinese.
Every so often, perpetrators of these hoaxes annoy the cops enough to get sent to jail, such as Claremont McKenna professor Kerri Dunn, who tried to frame her white male students after she painted anti-Semitic slogans on her own car.
But is anybody in the press ever held accountable for hyping the hysteria?
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