Putting Out the Fire With Lighter Fluid

After race car driver Bubba Wallace’s NooseCAR debacle last week, it would have taken somebody truly dumb and publicity-crazed to breathe life into this week’s even more absurd hate-crime allegation: biracial 18-year-old Althea Bernstein’s assertion that four “classic Wisconsin frat boys” squirted lighter fluid on her and set her ablaze by tossing a lighter into her car in downtown Madison, Wis., during an Antifa riot.

While nobody in the national press has dared express any skepticism about this hilariously unlikely tale, it hadn’t been getting the giant push that would have been expected if anybody of any importance were convinced this whopper were true.

After all, if Bernstein’s yarn about roving racist frat boys in Hawaiian shirts randomly incinerating a Jewish-Unitarian Woman of Color actually happened, it would be gigantic news, far bigger than, as Joe Biden would say, what’s his name—Pink Floyd? Boy George?—that drugged-up bouncer who wound up dead while resisting arrest and suddenly became history’s greatest saint, or that drunk driver who got himself shot after stealing a cop’s Taser and lighting him up with it.

Hate Crime Hoax: How t... Reilly, Wilfred Best Price: $11.58 Buy New $17.27 (as of 07:00 EST - Details) But, c’mon… Frat boys setting a semi-black girl on fire in super-liberal Madison is, obviously, Tawana Brawley/Jackie Coakley-level hate hoaxery, a silly teenager’s attempt to improvise an excuse for being where she shouldn’t have been.

Showing more caution than is typical in these circumstances, the national press reported Bernstein’s claims with a straight face, but then did only the minimum to follow up on them. Most newspapers just ran an initial wire service report, then a brief article about Bernstein’s appearance Friday on ABC’s Good Morning America.

No progressive pundit has yet written up Bernstein’s tall tale yet, presumably in the hope that when law enforcement eventually debunks it, nobody will remember it the way too many citizens remember Jussie Smollett.

But then, just as the Althea Bernstein story was being allowed to quietly fade away over the weekend, that special someone—Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, wife of Prince Harry—stepped forward to make a really futile and stupid gesture to keep this latest Hate Hoax from being allowed to be forgotten the way the cooler heads in the media had wished.

By Monday, society, fashion, and Jewish magazines like Town & CountryELLECosmopolitan, and Forward were all over the story.

As I’ve often pointed out, progressive Madison has some of the biggest racial disparities in the country, in part because the U. of Wisconsin attracts smart whites, but also because Madison, like nearby Milwaukee, has unusually dysfunctional blacks due to Wisconsin’s high welfare in the 1970s having attracted single mothers.

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