posted at 5:21 pm on May 5, 2017 by John Sexton
Shortly after the election last year the media became obsessed with a rise in reported hate crimes. One incident which was widely reported at the time involved a church in Bean Blossom, Indiana which had been spray-painted with a swastika and the phrase “Heil Trump.” A slur for gay people was also painted on the church. This week police revealed the crime was actually a “false flag” carried out by the church’s own organist, who is himself gay. From WTHR:
The Brown County prosecuting attorney’s office issued a statement Wednesday saying they had charged 26-year-old George Nathaniel Stang of Bloomington with institutional criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. Stang was the man who originally claimed to have found the graffiti, and works as the organist at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Bean Blossom…
In a three-page, handwritten statement, Stang, according to court records, wanted to “mobilize a movement.”
“I suppose I wanted to give local people a reason to fight for good, even if it was a false flag,” he wrote. “To be clear my actions were not motivated by hate for the church or its congregation. I of course realize now, this was NOT the way to go about inspiring activism.”
In its initial report on the incident, the Washington Post quoted Rev. Kelsey Hutto on her decision to leave the graffiti in place for a few weeks. “It’s no secret that the atmosphere of hatred has kind of permeated the nation right now,” Hutto told the Post. According to the Daily Caller, the Post mentioned the incident in 15 separate stories.
This is far from the only post-election hate incident which turned out to be bogus. Just hours after the election, a Muslim college student in Louisiana claimed she had been assaulted by two men who cursed at her and knocked her down. One of the men allegedly wore a white Trump hat during the assault. A few days later, police announced the student had admitted the entire story was bogus.
There was a similar hoax at the University of Michigan. A female, Muslim student claimed a man had demanded she remove her headscarf or be set on fire. In December, having thoroughly investigated the claim, police determined it “did not occur.”
In New York, another college student claimed she was harassed by Trump supporters on the subway. Police investigated and later arrested the woman for making a false report.
There are more examples, but suffice it to say there have been numerous well-publicized hate crimes which turned out to be false. Though the motive wasn’t put in writing in every one of those cases (as it was in this one), it’s a safe bet most of the hoaxers were also hoping to “mobilize a movement.”