Posts Tagged ‘Zachary Tennen’

The Mysterious Case of Althea Bernstein

August 1, 2020

[Spoiler Alert! The latest developments in the Bernstein case can be found here (October 4, 2020]

Early on the morning of June 24, 2020, 18-year-old Althea Bernstein claims she was stopped at a red light in downtown Madison, Wisconsin, when she was allegedly approached by four white men, (described by Bernstein as “classic Wisconsin frat boys”), who “shouted the N-word” at her and sprayed her face and neck with lighter fluid and “allegedly tossed a flaming lighter at her,” igniting the fluid. Bernstein claims that she then “patted out the flames and eventually drove home,” where her mother “encouraged her to go the hospital.”

Such an unprovoked attack would be heinous enough to begin with, but because Althea Bernstein is bi-racial the case is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Add in the fact that Bernstein’s father is Jewish and you have a hate crime two-fer on your hands.

Bernsteins

Althea Bernstein and her father in 2017

While we at Watching the Watchdogs are willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and take their allegations as true until proven otherwise, the Bernstein case has been exhibiting many signs of being a potential hate crime hoax from the beginning. Far from “blaming the victim,” a closer look at the claims and reporting of the incident are in order.

  1. The alleged attack took place at 1:00 a.m. in the morning during a violent BLM “protest” in downtown Madison.
  2. Bernstein says she was on her way to visit her brother in nearby Middleton at 1:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning.
  3. Despite driving downtown in a large city in the middle of the night, during a riot, Bernstein reports that she had her driver side window down while stopped at the red light.
  4. When the “four white frat boys” approached the window of her car, one of them produced a “spray bottle” of lighter fluid and proceeded to spray Bernstein in the face, miraculously missing the young woman’s eyes.
  5. Bernstein says that one of the boys “threw a lit lighter” at her to ignite the fluid. Since disposable butane lighters go out when released, one must assume that this lighter must have been of an old-time Zippo-like design. The cheapest Zippo lighters on Amazon.com retail for $16.95 and tend to pick up the user’s fingerprints, making them both rather pricey and incriminating to be thrown away in an arson attack. No lighter was found in Bernstein’s vehicle.
  6. Bernstein says that despite being the victim of an alleged hate crime, she continued to her brother’s house and then went home, where her mother “encouraged her to go the hospital.” Bernstein finally called the police at 5:45 p.m., nearly 17 hours after the alleged attack, on the police department’s non-emergency phone line.You can listen to the full call here.
  7. Bernstein drove herself to the Emergency Room.
  8. After an initial spate of media reports, including an interview with Good Morning America, and a high-profile call of support and solidarity from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Bernstein and her family have been silent on the alleged attack ever since, on the advice of their family attorney.
  9. A GoFundMe site, approved by the Bernstein family, has raised nearly $10,000 for the victim, but the family has directed that the money be turned over to charity.
  10. Despite allegedly taking place within a block of the Wisconsin State Capitol building, during a “violent protest,” the four attackers, two dressed all in black and two in flowered shirts, have yet to appear on any security or surveillance camera footage, as of this writing.

Granted, all of the above is circumstantial evidence, neither proving nor disproving Ms. Bernstein’s claim, but there certainly is a significant amount of it.

Naturally, the Media, smelling a potential hate crime, jumped on the story with gusto, and, before the police investigation had even begun, had determined that every word of Bernstein’s allegations were true. Google “Althea Bernstein” and see how many times the word “alleged” appears in the hundreds of results. 

Interestingly, even Ms. Bernstein’s own mother seems to be in favor of exaggerating the story. While Bernstein’s appearance on Good Morning America clearly shows burn marks on the left side of her face, the side facing the driver’s window, a Facebook post by Rebecca Bernstein shows (identical) burns on both sides of Althea’s face!

 

althea-bernstein-gma2-1593448141

Bernstein on Good Morning America

Bernstein mother

Any 10-year old with a smart phone can reverse an image but you have to do it intentionally. Why would the mother of an alleged double hate crime attack deliberately alter photos of her daughter’s injuries?

In another interesting coincidence, also occurring at 1:00 a.m. in downtown Madison, a group of “peaceful protesters” were fire bombing the Madison City-County building just a few hundred yards from the intersection where Ms. Bernstein claimed she was burned by four racist frat boys.

Madison City-County building

Unlike Ms. Bernstein’s case, this arson attack was captured by surveillance cameras. Also captured sometime later was 26-year-old Marquon Clark, a “person of interest” in connection with the attack on the municipal building.

Madison Arson Suspect

REWARD: @ATFStPaul is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for info leading to the ID/arrest a man believed to be responsible for the fire-bombing at a downtown Madison government building early this morning. Call (608) 266-6014 @madisonpolice @MadisonWIFire @USAO_WDWI

[Update, 8/4/20. A June 24 tweet by the ATF included the closeup image of the “person of interest” spraying the Madison City-County building with what appears to be charcoal lighter fluid.]

Marquon Clark

Marquon Clark

Ironically, the Molotov cocktail lobbed into the building forced the evacuation of Madison’s 9-1-1 response center, so it’s probably a good thing Ms. Bernstein waited seventeen hours to report her attack on the non-emergency line and eventually drove herself to the hospital.

[During the “peaceful protests” that night, two statues were pulled down and a Wisconsin state senator, 60-year-old Democrat Tim Carpenter, was violently attacked by the mob.

Ironically, (there’s that word again…) one of the statues was a likeness of Col. Hans Christian Heg, a Norwegian immigrant and vocal abolitionist, who died leading his Union regiment into battle against evil Confederate troops in 1863.

The other statue, actually an allegory of Progress titled “Forward,” was of a woman, sculpted by a woman artist, Jean Pond Minor, and was paid for by local women’s groups.

Sen. Carpenter describes himself as a Gay Progressive. “Sad thing is I’m on their side for peaceful protests,” Carpenter later observed.

Apparently, they don’t make “social justice” like they used to anymore.

When Madison officials held a press conference on the afternoon of the 24th to decry the senseless violence and vandalism social media and the Blogosphere pounced, accusing them of caring more about statues than for Althea Bernstein. The press conference was held at 4:00 p.m. Ms. Bernstein didn’t get around to reporting her alleged attack until 5:45 p.m. (8/11/20)]

Again, this is more circumstantial evidence, and as we always remind our readers, correlation in no way implies causation. Just because youthful “protesters” were lobbing flaming liquids around in the vicinity does not necessarily mean that Ms. Bernstein got splashed there and made up the “frat boy” story to cover her actions, but it sure seems like we’ve heard this song before.

Of course, the Jussie Smollett case from 2019 comes to mind. The gay Black actor claimed that he was attacked at 2:30 a.m., on the coldest night of the year (in Chicago!), by two white men (pictured below), who beat him up, poured bleach on him and put a noose around his neck while shouting “This is MAGA country!” (in Chicago!). Smollett’s case is still pending as of this writing. Smollett was allegedly hoping to create some favorable, or at least sympathetic, publicity to bolster his acting career.

Smollett Brothers

Smollett’s confessed “attackers”

Also in 2019, 12-year-old Amari Allen swore that three white boys held her down on the school playground and cut off her dreadlocks, calling them “nappy,” except it never happened.

In 2017, 21-year-old Dauntarius Williams, of Manhattan, Kansas, reported to police that his car had been vandalized with racist slurs. It had been… by Dauntarius Williams.

In 2016, 18-year-old Yasmin Seweid told police she had been attacked on a New York City subway platform by three white men who yelled “Donald Trump!” while attempting to pull off her hijab head scarf. Seweid later confessed to making the whole story up to cover her late night out drinking with her Christian boyfriend. While the court sentenced her to counseling, her father, who apparently didn’t want his underage daughter drinking alcohol or dating Christians, forced her to shave her head.

Seweid

Seweid and her father appear in court, 2016

Long-time Watching the Watchdogs readers may recall our post concerning 20-year-old Sharmeka Moffitt from 2012, who claimed that she was walking alone in Louisiana park one night when three white men in hoodies doused her with a flammable liquid and set her alight, causing third degree burns on her body. Her car was vandalized with “KKK” and the “N-word” written on it… in toothpaste.

Moffitt

Ms. Moffitt

Police responded to Ms. Moffitt’s 911 call in less than a minute and found no suspects matching her description. After completing their investigation, police report finding only Ms. Moffitt’s fingerprints on a cigarette lighter and lighter fluid container. The toothpaste was determined to contain evidence of female DNA only. A year later, Moffitt pleaded guilty to one count of terrorizing and one count of false swearing, receiving a ten-year suspended sentence. No reason for the hoax was given.

Also from 2012, we reported on one of the most heinous hate crimes of the century. Michigan State University student Zachary Tennen, 19, was at a college party one night, minding his own business, when two white males, with shaven heads, approached him and asked him if he was Jewish. When Tennen replied that he was, the two bald men informed him that they were with the local Ku Klux Klan, then “made Nazi gestures” and proceeded to beat poor Zachary senseless, breaking his jaw in the process and… stapling his mouth shut after the attack! And the crowd of party-goers stood by and did nothing.

Tennen

Zachary Tennen

Naturally, the Media was all over this story. It had absolutely everything a news editor could wish for. Nazis, Skinheads, the KKK and anti-Semitism galore. Plus they stapled the boy’s mouth shut!  Tennen’s father threatened to call in high-powered lawyers from the Anti-Defamation League to help him sue MSU if the evil Nazi-Klan-Skinheads were not brought to justice immediately.

And then the real story came out. Young Mr. Tennen admitted to being “drunk and high” at the party that night. Several female students attending the party reported that Mr. T. was being obnoxious, making unwanted advances and “getting grabby” (every woman reading this description knows exactly what was going on). One of the women complained to a male friend, who explained to Mr. Tennen that if he did not cut it out he was going to regret it.

Mr. Tennen did not heed the advice. He put his hands on another woman and the other male, who was not a Nazi, or a skinhead, or with the KKK, kept his word and with one single punch knocked Zachary out cold, fracturing his jaw in the process. The crowd failed to intervene in “the beating” not because they were inherently anti-Semitic, they did not intervene because the whole thing was over in the blink of an eye.

To date, no explanation has been given for the piece of wire found in Tennen’s mouth, but it was most likely part of a retainer or other dental device. Zachary Tennen’s mouth was never stapled shut.

Like many teenage hoaxers who panic and play the hate card, Tennen found himself in over his head with no way out.  In the photo above, Tennen is shown in the hospital with his jaws wired shut, recounting the fictitious “attack’ in a television interview, literally lying through his teeth. Tennen stuck with his story until it finally collapsed under its own incredulous weight.

When Zachary Tennen finally came clean about the events of that evening the silence was deafening. Because he was actually punched in the face at the party, the Lansing Police Department still considered it an assault, regardless if the hate crime details were fabricated, yet no charges were filed against the student who punched Tennen.

Michigan State University decided that since the assault occurred off-campus that it suddenly had no role to play in the proceedings and the Tennen family called off the ADL lawyers at the last minute, stating that “…justice will be best served by closing this investigation at this time.” The end. Nothing to see here. Move along.

The point here is that hate crime hoaxes happen, and when they do happen the usual suspects rush in to capitalize on the initial claims and then going silent on the matter, as with the Althea Bernstein case, or making up some lame justification (“Yeah, well, it could have happened. Racists!”).

The Media and the Hate Industry players could care less if a story is true or not. They’ll make their money peddling the initial fear and outrage and there is a LOT of money to be made from that golden goose. After that, they will lie low until the next hoax comes along. It’s just business, folks. Very, very profitable business.

One final note, even the millionaires at the Southern Poverty Law Center, who have never met a “hate” claim they could not monetize, are staying clear of the Bernstein case. To date, the company has not said a word about the matter.

In all fairness, though, even the NAACP and Al Sharpton, who rose to fame propagating the Tawana Brawley hate crime hoax in 1987, have made no comments on the Bernstein story so far. Coincidence?

Stay tuned for updates on this mysterious case.

[Update — 9/22/20 — It has been 90 days since Ms. Bernstein claimed she was attacked by “four white frat boys” but Madison Police and the FBI have yet to turn up a single clue. No video. No witnesses. Nothing.

“As of Wednesday, [August 12, 2020], authorities confirmed that there is no new information to report concerning the alleged attack,” reported The Daily Wire website. “There is nothing new to release at this time,” [Madison Police spokesman Joel DeSpain] said, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Two weeks after those reports were published, Ms. Bernstein turned up at another Madison protest, doubling down on her attack claim and addressing the crowd. “Does my skin color offend you? Does my success scare you? Does the fact that I’m a Black woman make you worried that change in [sic] going to happen?”

That quote came from an unnamed Associated Press reporter who made the entirely unverified claim that “One of the demonstrators was Althea Bernstein, the 18-year-old Black woman who was lit on fire as she sat in her car at a Madison intersection…” The term “allegedly” never appears once in the report, and it was reprinted by US News and World Report, who really ought to know better. Such is the sorry state of “journalism” today.

The media madness spilled into September, with The Clarion, school newspaper for the Madison Area Technical College, using the same attack-as-fact language in a highly sanitized story about a September 2 student protest on behalf of Althea Bernstein. Apparently, Ms. Bernstein was otherwise engaged that day and unable to attend the march and fundraiser in her honor.

On September 11, the National Football League released a list of approved “names of victims of police violence and systemic racism…” that NFL players could wear on their helmets to signify their virtue. The second name on that list (no doubt because she’s a woman) is Althea Bernstein.

One final note, the GoFundMe fundraiser we mentioned earlier was mysteriously closed on August 18, by its organizer, Linda Rogalski, having stalled at $9,818 dollars, meaning that no one had contributed since July.

The mysteries are several:

  1. Despite requiring ongoing medical attention for Althea’s burns, the Bernstein family, who approved the fundraiser, did not want to use the money to pay for medical costs. Instead, they wanted the money to go to charity.
  2. Ms. Rogalski writes that the money will actually be used to help Althea Bernstein purchase a “farmette” where she can rescue animals. The farm will be called “Timberdoodle Meadows.”

    And this applies to Ms. Bernstein’s alleged hate crime status how?

  3. The fundraiser fell short of its $10,000 goal, but only by a fraction. They raised 99.2% of the money, but strangely, Ms. Rogalski has included a link on the site where donors can ask for their money back, “Since it did not reach the goal amount for the campaign.”

    Really? “You only raised 99.2% of the money earmarked for a hate crime victim so I want a refund,” said nobody, ever.

  4. GoFundMe donations are available to the beneficiaries almost immediately, even during ongoing campaigns, and there is no deadline for closing a campaign, so why would you close it at all, especially when you are within spitting distance of the goal line?]

“Curiouser and curiouser.”

The Mysterious Case of Sharmeka Moffitt

October 25, 2012

**** UPDATE – April 20, 2013 **** In the same month that saw convicted hate crime hoaxer Charlie Rogers sentenced to a week in jail and two years of probation, Sharmeka Moffitt was arrested on April 2 and booked on charges of terrorizing and false reporting.

Released on $20,000 bail,  Moffitt was appointed an indigent defender and her trial was scheduled for December 12, 2013. Stay tuned for updates as they become available.

**** UPDATE – December 20, 2012 **** After spending nearly two months in the hospital being treated for her severe burns, Sharmeka Moffitt was released from the hospital in good condition on December 20. Surprisingly, the article reports that “Fifth District Attorney Mack Lancaster has said Moffitt will likely face criminal charges.”

As reported earlier, Nebraska lesbian Charlie Rogers did face criminal charges in December and was found guilty of filing a false report. Rogers will face sentencing in February.

Unfortunately, neither woman has the resources or political connections of young Zachary Tennen, an alleged victim of “Nazi-Klan-Skinheads.” The impetuous youth walked away from his August hate crime “prank” scot-free.

Tennen’s daddy, who invoked the ADL and threatened to sue the city of East Lansing for incompetence, quietly asked the Prosecutor’s Office to “just drop the whole thing” once he found out that his boy got punched in the face for being drunk and feeling up girls at an off-campus party.

And for some reason, that Prosecutor said “Okay! It never happened. No harm No foul.” Sorry, ladies.

***************************************************

[Original post] In what appears to be yet another hate crime hoax this year, police in Winnsboro, Louisiana, are reporting that all evidence in a gruesome burning incident now points to the victim herself.

20-year-old Sharmeka Moffitt told police that she was walking alone on a trail in a local park on Sunday, October 21, when she was approached by “three men wearing white hoodies” who “doused her with a flammable liquid and set her on fire.” Police also found the initials “KKK” and the infamous “N-word” scrawled on Ms. Moffitt’s car, in toothpaste(?)

Police responded to Ms. Moffitt’s 911 call in less than a minute and found no suspects matching her description. After completing their investigation, police report finding only Ms. Moffitt’s fingerprints on a cigarette lighter and lighter fluid container. The toothpaste was determined to contain evidence of female DNA only.

Ms. Moffitt suffered third-degree burns on at least 60% of her body, with some reports saying as much as 90%. Given the severe nature of her injuries and the record-breaking response of the police to the crime scene, it sure looks like Ms. Moffitt, or an accomplice, must have smeared the toothpaste smears on her car well before the alleged attack. This was premeditated.

Within hours of the report, the Blogosphere and social media were decrying yet another alleged attack by evil white men, once again, before the police had even had time to examine the evidence. Within hours, it was being reported that Ms. Moffitt had been raped and burned because she was wearing an Obama t-shirt, two claims that her family have declared to be completely unfounded.

This is the same pattern we’ve seen in the Zachary Tennen and Charlie Rogers hate crime hoaxes we’ve reported on in  just the past few months. Naturally, the Huffington Post reported unequivocally that “A Louisiana woman was the victim of a horrific attack during which she was reportedly set on fire and had her car defiled with the letters “KKK,” only to follow it up with a sheepish update regarding the dubious nature of Ms. Moffitt’s claims, just as they have done with both the Rogers and Tennen stories.

To his credit, even the Southern Poverty Law Center’s public relations chief, Mark Potok, has come out against Ms. Moffitt and several other hate crime hoaxers, claiming that lately, “Bogus hate crimes are all the rage.”

Of course, for Mr. Potok, these hoaxes are personal. When you work for an organization that takes in tens of millions of tax-free dollars a year claiming that “hate is everywhere,” false claims like these are bad for business.

Mr. Potok has a highly lucrative brand name to protect.

Unfortunately, neither Mr. Potok, nor the Anti-Defamation League (who were prepared to pull out all the stops over Mr. Tennen’s non-existent hate crime attack), nor any of the other Hate Industry major players are calling for stiffer legal penalties for these deliberate hoaxes.

Ms. Rogers is facing a misdemeanor charge, the Winnsboro police chief seems to feel that Ms. Moffitt’s severe burns are punishment enough and Mr. Tennen will walk away from his “boyish prank” scot-free.

We can expect to see more and more of these hoaxes, which needlessly inflame tensions and passions, while tying up valuable law enforcement resources, as long as the price for crying wolf is negligible. Hate crime charges are among the most serious that can be leveled in this country, and with that power comes the highest level of responsibility.

False hate crime charges should be met with federal repercussions. They won’t go away until the price becomes too high to pay.

Mr. Potok claims his self-appointed group is “tracking domestic terrorists,” well, if the definition of “terrorist” is “one who employs illegal methods to affect political change” then these criminals should be at the top  of his list.

The Mysterious Case of Zachary Tennen

September 5, 2012

***** UPDATE — 9/30/12 ****** According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency the Tennen Family has asked that the hate crime investigation be officially closed:

The family wrote in a Sept. 24 letter that “justice will be best served by closing this investigation at this time,” according to reports. “The Tennen family is cognizant of the fact that substantial resources were expended to investigate these allegations and that there is insufficient evidence of a hate crime to go forward with a criminal prosecution,” the letter said.

How exactly will “justice be best served” by covering up such a heinous hate crime? Tennen’s father had already lined up “high profile lawyers” and had complained personally to the Anti-Defamation League. What justice is there in letting those evil Nazi-Klan-Skinheads get away with such blatant anti-Semitism?? Isn’t this exactly the way the Nazis got started to begin with?

Well… not so much.

A couple of days earlier several news outlets released the missing details from all other reports to date. Statenews.com reports that Mr. Tennen was, in his own words, “drunk and high” at the party that night, and he began to make unwanted sexual advances on several female party-goers:

According to the report, several female students told police Tennen made advances on them at the party, touched them inappropriately, asked them to make out with him and invited them back to his apartment.

One woman said after trying to avoid Tennen several times in the backyard, she was approached by him while she was sitting outside. Tennen came up to sit next to her and began touching her in a way that made her feel “extremely uncomfortable and scared,” she told police, the report reveals.
“I looked at my phone and ignored him in hopes that he’d walk away,” the witness said. “Instead he … placed his right hand across my chest and on my upper right thigh and then began to move lower to my private parts.”

The witness said Tennen was pushing against her so she couldn’t stand up or get away and asked her to make out with him.

After slapping his hand away, she went to get help from one of her friends — the man police identified as the suspect who punched Tennen.

Chivalry, it seems, is not dead after all, even among Nazi-Klan-Skinheads. Good for them.

So, what charges will be brought in this case? Will the Nazi-Klan-Skinhead face charges for the assault? It seems unlikely: “As of Thursday, no charges have been filed. In addition, no arrests have been made, and the case is not considered a hate crime.”

Will Zachary Tennen be charged with underage drinking, public intoxication and attempted sexual assault? Not likely.

Will Mr. Tennen be charged with filing false charges and promoting a hate crime hoax?

Despite some inconsistencies between the story Tennen gave police and witness accounts of the assault, Dunnings said there is no chance Tennen could be charged with filing a false police report.

“He believed he was assaulted, and he was, in fact, hit,” [Prosecutor Stuart]Dunnings said. “The fact that there may have been some erroneous reporting around the events does not make it a false police report.”

Apparently not. “Hate crime” laws aren’t about crime, after all, are they?

As for the “erroneous reporting,” here’s a link to an ABC News report featuring Mr. Tennen literally lying through his teeth, twice.

***** UPDATE — 9/17/12 ****** And the final word from the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office:

“There is no indication at all that this was a hate crime. None. Zero,” Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III said Monday. “I think it’s a shame when one person makes an allegation and everyone takes it as the truth and gets up in arms about it.”

It is a shame, Mr. Dunnings, and hopefully your office will hold Mr. Tennen responsible for this reprehensible hoax. If societies are going enact subjective “hate crime” laws based on what the perpetrator was allegedly thinking at the time of the crime, then people who abuse those laws should be held to the same standards and punishments.

Maybe that would make the hoaxers think twice.

***** UPDATE — 9/14/12 ****** The Anti-Defamation League, (ADL), has issued a press release noting that “East Lansing Police have apparently concluded that while the student was the victim of a serious physical assault, the evidence does not support his claim that the assault involved anti-Semitic hate speech or gestures, nor does it indicate that the incident was motivated by his religion.”

The ADL then concludes that:

The story is a very sad one, on many levels.  However, based on the best information currently available, ADL does not believe this incident should be treated as a hate crime.

The story is indeed a very sad one. If the ADL, the creators and promoters of many current hate crime laws on the books, believe that this is not a hate crime, they should be among the first and the loudest to call for the most severe legal penalties under the law to be brought against an intentional hate crime hoaxer.

Will the ADL do the moral thing, the right thing, by demanding justice? Will they circle the wagons around one of their own and cook up some cockamamie excuse for the alleged hoaxer, as so many special interest groups are wont to do in these situations? Will the ADL and the Media simply allow this case to case to drop down the Memory Hole and never speak of it again?

Only time will tell. Stay tuned for further updates, if and when they occur.

***** UPDATE — 9/6/12 ****** Andrew Silow-Carroll, Editor-in-Chief of the New Jersey Jewish News, offers some good advice on allowing the police investigation to proceed before making the very serious charges of anti-Semitism or “hate crime.”

*******************

Another horrific hate crime story was in the news last week that bears watching for further developments. Like the violent attack reported by Lincoln, Nebraska, lesbian Charlie Rogers in July, the early media reports on the attack on 19-year-old Jewish college student Zachary Tennen have evolved into an entirely different scenario.

Charlie Rogers claimed she was attacked because of her sexual identity. Early media reports determined that “three white men”  had undoubtedly committed one of the most heinous hate crimes in Nebraska history. Lincoln police investigated her report as a hate crime, but after examining the evidence they have since arrested Ms. Rogers and are charging her with faking the attack and filing a false report.

Early reports on the Tennen attack say that the MSU journalism student was at an off-campus party early on the morning of August 26 when two males with “shaved heads”  approached and asked him if he was Jewish. When Tennen replied that he was Jewish, the two men allegedly made “Nazi and Hitler symbols and they said they were part of the KKK,” according to Tennen’s report.

At that point, according to the media, the Klan-Nazi-Skinheads proceeded to “knock” or “beat” (depending on the source) Tennen into unconsciousness and then “stapled his mouth shut.”

Hate crimes don’t come much clearer than that (unless it comes to “carving” slurs into the flesh of a lesbian) and the media had a feeding frenzy.  Once again, before the police had even begun their preliminary investigation, the usual special interest groups weighed in to register their “horror” at this obvious anti-Semitic hate crime.

At least the ADL had the common sense to deplore an “alleged attack,” and the Southern Poverty Law Center seems to be watching and waiting on this one, having been singed by the Charlie Rogers incident.

East Lansing Police have since painted a slightly different picture of the events that don’t quite line up with Tennen’s version.

  • Witnesses at the party did not see or hear any “Nazi symbols” prior to the attack.
  • Tennen was knocked to the ground by a single punch (There’s a difference between being kayo’d by a single punch and being “beaten,” just as there is a significant difference between “carving” and “scratching” words on a person’s skin.)
  • Witnesses who saw the punch said the two men left immediately afterward and there was no stapler or stapling involved. (Do Klan-Nazi-Skinheads carry Swingline staplers nowadays?). Photos and a video interview with Tennen show no puncture wounds to his face or lips.
  • Tennen did not report the incident to police until a good 12 hours later.
Click image to enlarge

In the days following the attack, the media backed off from the hate crime angle, and like the East Lansing police, are now suspecting that Tennen was one of countless college students across the country that night who had a few drinks at an off-campus party, said or did something to offend a fellow guest and found themselves lying in a crumpled heap on the ground shortly thereafter.

“Two witnesses said they saw the victim having an argument with two other males in the front yard and one  punched him (Tennen) in the face,” [Police] Capt. Jeff Murphy said.

“There was nothing about anti-Semitic statements or about his face being stapled,” Murphy said.

“It appears to be a one-punch-to-the-face type assault,” Murphy said

Tennen’s parents aren’t giving up on their son’s account, however. It was they who notified the ADL of the attack and they have since made several public allegations that the witnesses and police may be covering up the true anti-Semitic nature of the crime.

Tennen’s father, Bruce Tennen, is determined to play the hate crime angle to the hilt:

We are in the process of engaging a high-profile governmental attorney,” Bruce Tennen said in a statement Wednesday. “It’s my hope that the assailants will be apprehended soon by the East Lansing Police Department, brought to justice and prosecuted to the fullest extent under applicable state and federal criminal laws.

Mr. Tennen may be disappointed if there turns out to be very few state and federal statutes regarding a punch in the face.

Just as in the Rogers case, though, some special interest groups are hedging their bets so that even if this case does turn out to be another hate crime hoax the perpetrator’s actions will be justified.

Shortly after Charlie Rogers was charged with making a false report a coalition of Nebraska LGBT groups noted that “It is important not to focus on the actions of any single individual,” the statement read. “As residents of Lincoln we must continue to bring our community together to declare that violence and hate are not the values of our city.”

Oddly enough, up until Rogers was charged, these same groups were very much focused on the alleged actions of three white male individuals. If they had committed these heinous acts these groups would have done everything in their power to extract the most severe penalties under law.

Now that it looks like Ms. Rogers fabricated the entire crime they’re willing to look the other way and there is no cry from them to charge Ms. Rogers with anything more than the misdemeanor of filing false charges. How exactly does this double standard “bring the community together”? Where’s the outrage now?

In a similar vein, Alex Waldman, president of MSU’s Jewish Student Union, seems just as willing to turn a blind eye in the event that Mr. Tennen might have exaggerated the events of that night.

Regardless of what the outcome of this incident is, this is an opportunity for our campus to evaluate hate toward groups, whether it’s cultural, racial or religious; hate is always there, and (for) students our age, as young adults, it is our responsibility to eliminate that.”

Hopefully, Mr. Waldman means that it is also the community’s responsibility to eliminate the irresponsible misuse of hate crime laws in the furtherance of anyone’s personal agendas.

Police have since identified and interviewed two suspects, though no arrests have been made as of this writing. We don’t know all the facts yet. Maybe the suspects really are Klan-Nazi-Skinheads so this case is still open.

As with the Charlie Rogers case, it will be worth watching this one to see just what actually happened that night.

Stay tuned for details as they come in.


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