On Dec. 1. Yasmin Seweid, 18, told police and the media that she had been attacked on a subway by three white men, supporters of president-elect Donald Trump. The scene described was horrifying.
[Strangers] stood by and watched as three drunk white men repeatedly screamed “Donald Trump!” and hurled anti-Islam slurs Thursday at a Muslim Baruch College student before trying to rip her hijab off of her head on an East Side subway, the woman told the Daily News….
“It made me really sad after when I thought about it,” she said. “People were looking at me and looking at what was happening and no one said a thing. They just looked away.”
The story made the front page of the Daily News and provoked an outpouring of sympathy and rage on social media. It was the hate crime that launched, as Reason glibly put it, 1,000 memes.
The problem? On Wednesday Seweid admitted to police she made up the entire story. Turns out she didn’t want to get in trouble for missing curfew.
The many instances of “fake hate” following Trump’s election are well-documented. The fetishizing of victimhood in 21st-century America is a very real phenomena, and there seems to be a strong inclination by many to see Trump supporters as modern Brownshirts waiting for the opportunity to torment marginalized classes of people.
The New York Times editorial board has launched a page called “This Week in Hate” to track hate crime across America.
What struck me is that a brief perusing of the pages reveals that the vast majority of these hate crimes—graffiti in bathrooms, hate mail, harassment, etc.—pale beside regular crime taking place every day in America.
I covered the crime beat for a single year in Bay County, Florida, and I saw a dozen things more chilling than any of the hate crimes that appeared on the Times’ list last week. (The most serious hate crime involved a man who was stabbed outside of a mosque in Southern California. Police say the attack was not premeditated; the stabber remains at large, though an accomplice is in custody.)
FBI statistics show that crimes against Muslims were on the rise even before Trump’s election, so it’s important to make clear that all such crimes will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But law enforcement needs to make it equally clear that false reports of hate crime will also be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
The problem is that crime—like all things in modern America—is now politicized.
A stabbing at a local tavern doesn’t even make the back page of the city newspaper. But if the men were arguing about the president and one of the individuals is from a protected class, there’s a good chance it will become national news.
Does anyone else think this does not bode particularly well for national unity?
Jon Miltimore is senior editor of Intellectual Takeout. Follow him on Facebook.
Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writing/reporting has appeared in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Washington Times.