The Hate Crime Hoax Epidemic

The quickly-unraveling Jussie Smollett hate crime hoax in Chicago is just one of at least 13 high-profile frauds since the start of 2018, according to the online database at

In the most recent this past November, an 18-year-old woman admitted to writing four of the five racist notes found on the campus of Drake University in Iowa, sending one of them to herself.


That same month, a Goucher College lacrosse player perpetrated a similar hoax.


Also in November, the Kansas State University was rocked by a stunning hate crime—racist graffiti written on an apartment complex, eerily reminiscent of an incident almost two years to the day earlier.


Only both incidents were later proven to be hoaxes.

This past October, Anna Ayers, member of the Ohio University Student Senate, was arrested and charged with sending three threatening messages to herself—one at her home and two at the Student Senate office.

A month before that, a woman on Long Island, New York added an overtly political slander to her hate crime hoax.


Demonization of political enemies as violent bigots does seem to be a rather common thread running through many of these hoaxes, as they seem to spike in the fevered atmosphere of election seasons.’s database shows that the number of such documented frauds spiked in November of 2016, when dismay over Donald Trump’s election apparently prompted nearly two dozen people to pretend to be hate crime victims in just that month alone.

In fact, 2016 saw by far the most documented fake hate crimes since research on the phenomenon began in 1979, seemingly indicating that presidential politics played at least some role. The nature of the opposition to Trump in particular—including wild allegations of racism and bigotry against both him and his supporters—appears to have dramatically increased the number of hate crime hoaxes.

The three years that saw the highest number of such crimes were 2015, the year Trump declared his candidacy and rose to prominence; 2016, the year he won the Republican primary and then the presidency; and 2017, the year he was inaugurated and began his term in office.

The Jussie Smollett hoax is only the most recent in a long line of fake hate crimes designed to paint Trump and his supporters as so bigoted that they would engage in such attacks.

In just the first few days and weeks after Trump’s election, Philadelphia police arrested a 58 year-old man for writing racist graffiti along with “Trump rules” in what investigators called a hoax, a black man in Malden, Massachusetts admitted to filing a false report of two white men harassing him over his race, and a North Park University student lied about receiving a hateful note.

Only the Chicago media initially covered it totally uncritically. North Park University investigated and a week later deemed those notes to be fabricated. NBC Chicago, which ran that lengthy, rather hysterical report on the supposed hate on campus, relegated the revelation that it was a hoax to a short blurb on its website.

Sympathetic, uncritical media coverage helps spread these hoaxes and further the narrative that hate—supposedly egged on by President Trump—is on the rise, but the coverage itself is only serving to encourage more hoaxes.

Victimhood itself has become a status symbol on the activist political left, because when one is a victim, he or she can appeal to the emotion associated with victimhood instead of having to rely on crafting a compelling, logical, and fact-based argument to support whatever cause he or she is trying to advance.

“You have to listen to me, I’m a victim of X” has replaced “You have to consider my argument for Y,” thereby elevating the demographic or socioeconomic status of the speaker over the quality of his or her message.

As an added (and perverse) benefit, victimhood allows the speaker to paint his or her political opponents as vile monsters and thus unworthy of even being able to spread their message. Why bother with a debate when one side shouldn’t be heard because of their alleged bigotry?

Faking a hate crime and along with it victimhood status is thus seen as a shortcut to crafting a successful activist message and, in the process, earning sympathy and a certain modicum of reverence on the political left.

With each hate crime hoax, though, that message is not just diluted, but discredited, and serves only to victimize the true victims of bigotry, not to mention the innocent people dishonestly maligned as bigots in what can only be described as truly hateful character assassination on a grand scale.

Dan O'Donnell

Dan O'Donnell

Common Sense Central is edited by WISN's Dan O'Donnell. Dan provides unique conservative commentary and analysis of stories that the mainstream media often overlooks. Read more


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