In a piece on CNN.com, titled, "Air Force Academy hoax doesn't change overall picture on hate crimes," CNN contributor Frida Ghitis (identified as a "former CNN producer and correspondent") used the revelation that an infamous incident of racist harassment against Air Force Academy cadets was revealed to be a hoax as a springboard to attack "bigots" and "racists" on the "far right" who were too glad that the troubling incident turned out not to be a bonafide example of a racially motivated hate crime.
Although the biggest lesson from the affair should be that, when someone engages in such behavior anonymously and the perpetrator has not yet been identified, it makes sense to not jump to too many conclusions about the motivations of the guilty party; Ghitis used the story to attack conservatives, and even worked in a jab at a Virginia GOP state legislator who was defeated last week by a transgender Democratic candidate, as the former CNN reporter called the Republican a "bigot."
Ghitis began her article:
Americans on the far right could hardly contain their excitement, judging from their effusive comments on social media. A widely publicized incident, which appeared to have been a hate crime, turned out to have been a hoax. It was time to celebrate for extremists, and for others who have joined President Donald Trump in claiming that anyone whose message they dislike is a purveyor of "fake news."
After she recalled that Lieutenant General Jay Silveria gave an impressive speech in reaction to the incident -- as she correctly noted that the speech is still worthy of attention since there will likely always exist some portion of the population who will harass others -- the former CNN reporter then noted some of President Donald Trump's more controversial moments from the past, and ended up rejoicing over Republicans losing elections last week in Virginia.
Referring to Virginia Republican Delegate Bob Marshall, Ghitis declared:
Across the country, bigots lost. The man who called himself "Virginia's chief homophobe," who wrote an anti-transgender "bathroom bill," lost the seat he had held for 13 terms to Danica Roem, who became Virginia's first openly transgender elected official.
After noting a New Jersey Republican who lost an election after making sexist comments, she turned her attention to the issue of an "upsurge" in hate crimes in the U.S.:
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The backlash against prejudice was predictable, but so was the upsurge in hate crimes. Statistics show a sharp rise in hate crimes since Trump's election, targeting African-Americans, LGBTQ people, Jews, Muslims, and others. The experts say hoaxes make up a minuscule amount of the cases. In fact, the vast majority of hate crimes are never reported.
The CNN contributor linked to an article recounting reports of an increase in the reporting of hate crimes in some major cities, but it should also be put into context that there has been a general increase in violent crime in the past few years -- possibly as a result of police departments coming under greater scrutiny. And estimates over the past decade suggest that, in general, only about three or four percent of all violent crimes are categorized as hate crimes while only about one percent of property crimes are considered hate crimes.
Additionally, the most recent FBI annual statistics on hate crimes in the U.S. for 2016, released a couple of days ago, finds that, of all hate crimes whose perpetrators could be identified by race, 43.5 percent were committed by racial minorities -- with 32 percent identified as black -- undermining the stereotype that hate crimes are committed by whites against minorities.
After noting that General Silveria's speech is still worthwhile, she concluded: "Racists may rejoice in the discovery of a hoax. The rest of us can rejoice in seeing the message of tolerance and civility winning the battle of ideas."
Given the history of some on the left to use high-profile individual incidents of alleged hate crimes to try to portray conservatives as inciting or being sympathetic to such behavior against minorities, it is quite understandable that one would be glad to discover when an alleged racially-motivated incident turns out not to have been motivated by racial hostility at all.
It is also noteworthy that, in contrast with the tone of Ghitis's article, a couple of months ago after a white man fabricated a story claiming that a black man had stabbed him in a racially motivated attack, right-leaning publications reported that it was a hoax without fretting that they were losing a talking point by the discovery that it was a bogus story. Breitbart News, the Daily Caller, the Daily Mail, the Daily Wire, The Washington Times and MRCTV (sister publication to NewsBusters) all informed their readers that the incident was a hoax.