A black University of Iowa student who claimed he was beaten outside a bar by three white men who were hurling racial epithets at him has retracted his story. It now turns out that Marcus Owens of suburban Chicago was the instigator in three separate, drunken fights where he received a split lip and chipped teeth.
Apparently, the thought of having to tell his parents he was drunk led to the lie that whites had beaten him up.
His parents issued a statement apologizing for the “misunderstanding.” Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune wasn’t buying a lot of it.
From the parental statement: “Upon learning more details of the case, and while racial slurs served to fuel the violence, Marcus now knows that his account of events was inconsistent with police findings, in part due to alcohol being involved, his embarrassment at his behavior, as well as the injuries he sustained.”
He now knows this? No, he knew it all along, particularly after he sobered up. He now admits it. And “inconsistent with police findings” is an awfully convoluted way of saying “a lie.”
His parents summed it up as “a case of excessive underage drinking and extremely poor judgment on the part of many people, Marcus included.”
Marcus especially. Marcus primarily. He picked a few drunken fights, got his face beat and then chose to turn a routine rumble into a regional incident that slimed Iowa City and the University of Iowa while distressing many of his fellow black students.
Student and faculty supporters staged a protest on his behalf charging the university with insufficient urgency in response to a racially inspired attack (which did not take place on campus). They created a Twitter hashtag #explainiowa to whip up concern and anger.
“It is being applied to communicate moral indignation of Marcus Owens’ attack,” Cassie Barnhardt, an assistant professor of educational policy and leadership studies, told the Iowa City Press-Citizen. The hashtag was intended “to provoke a response from university administrators, and it is serving as an invitation of sorts to prompt others in the community to think about and pay attention to acts of racial aggression and bias.”
Good things to think about, of course. But not things to lie about, particularly where there are plenty of true examples to ponder. And not things for activists to believe reflexively whenever someone makes a claim.
False reports do more than just waste police time and excite needless alarm. They also make it that much harder for the real victims to be believed, and more difficult for concerned groups to generate moral indignation when it’s called for. They trivialize the very problem they hide behind.
Zorn nails it. Activists believing “reflexively” that blacks have the moral authority to be automatically granted believability isn’t rational. In fact, it’s unthinking lunacy.
When so much is at stake — not the least of which is the possibility of someone going to jail for a fake hate crime — there must be a realization on the other side that the possibility of a hoax cannot be dismissed.
This doesn’t mean that you should react any less intensely to real incidents of racial hatred, regardless if the hate is directed at black or white individuals. But like campus feminists screaming “rape,” the consequences of accepting at face value the accusation could be so terrible that much greater care than is currently being used should be taken.
It won’t happen, of course, It’s too much fun to gin up anger and outrage at others to care if any specific accusation of hate is true or not. But perhaps the brainless activists should read a story about a boy, a wolf, and a tragedy that occured when people stopped accepting the boy’s story at face value.