Did you see that story last week about the Muslim waiter in Texas who said a customer stiffed him on the customary gratuity and scrawled “We don’t tip terrorist (sic)” on the receipt? You probably said to yourself, “That’s awful! I can’t believe somebody would do that. Is this really where we are as a society?” Then you congratulated yourself on being so much more enlightened and sophisticated than such people.
Or, maybe you’ve paid attention to the news at some point in the past few decades, and you saw a story like that and remembered that these things are almost* always hoaxes.
BREAKING: Saltgrass COO says employee fabricated entire story about receiving note “We don’t tip Terrorist.” https://t.co/CFSuJvU37k
— OdessaAmerican (@OdessaAmerican) July 23, 2018
The Odessa waiter whose story about being called a terrorist by a customer spurred national attention last week now admits it was all a hoax.
The waiter, Khalil Cavil, 20, admitted he wrote the racist note himself in a Monday interview with the Odessa American, where he apologized to a reporter “because I did lie to you.”
“I did write it,” Cavil said, refusing to explain why. “I don’t have an explanation. I made a mistake. There is no excuse for what I did.”
The restaurant even banned an innocent customer over this false accusation. (I know the feeling!)
Now, keep in mind that this young man did own up to his mistake. He didn’t try to excuse what he did. He didn’t blame Trump, or the NRA, or Fox News, or any of the other convenient demons in today’s America. So I’m glad to see that. But Cavil is wrong that there’s no explanation. The explanation is obvious: He did it to get attention. And why did he think it would succeed? Because it always does.
Race hoaxes can take different forms. Sometimes, as with the “Bigoted note on the restaurant receipt” genre that’s become popular in recent years, the hoaxer will make him- or herself the victim. Other times, the hoaxer seizes on minor slights or aggravations committed by others, and exploits them to make him- or herself the victim.
A few months ago in my home state of Indiana, the brave students at DePauw University stood up for themselves against… well… against some kids who rearranged rocks in a nearby park to spell a bad word, a bit of racist graffiti found in the restroom of a nearby bar, and a sorority girl who went out one night with purple glitter on her face. It was a terrifying echo of the days of Bull Connor, and these leaders of tomorrow refused to be silent about it:
— FOX59 News (@FOX59) April 18, 2018
As a result, the university has been bending over backward to accede to their demands. The last thing they want is for these students to feel unsafe as they scream incoherent gibberish in the faces of the faculty.
In 2018 America, victimhood is currency. If you want people to stop making martyrs of themselves, stop rewarding them for it. Stop spreading obvious hoaxes, just because you want to congratulate yourself on being better than somebody who would write a bigoted note on a restaurant receipt. Stop signaling your virtue to the other members of your tribe.
Or maybe you’re thinking about committing a hoax like this, or exploiting a hoax like this, to “raise awareness”? Please don’t. You’re only doing the exact opposite. You’re just raising awareness that too many people cynically exploit racism and bigotry for their own personal gain. You’re making things tougher for the real victims.
There’s enough hate in the world as it is. Why invent more?
*I say “almost always hoaxes” because I haven’t read every single news story in the history of the world. Something like this has probably happened for real at some point, somewhere. But every time I’ve seen it, it’s been a hoax. If you’ve got counterexamples, leave them in the comments where I’ll never read them.