For the second time this semester, a controversy at GW was all the talk of the blogosphere. Freshman Sarah Marshak’s confession of drawing swastikas on her own residence hall door provoked responses from bloggers nationwide.
Conservative blogs were up in arms about what they perceived as Marshak’s attempt to be seen as a victim.
“It’s the ‘American Idol’ syndrome: Everybody wants their 15 minutes of fame, and faking a hate crime against yourself is a quick shortcut to the limelight,” wrote Robert Stacy McCain on the Washington Times blog.
“If hate crimes did not exist, it would be necessary to invent them,” added Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.
Ace of Spades HQ questioned Marshak’s claim that she only drew the swastikas on her door to raise awareness of anti-Semitism.
“Apparently now hate speech has more nuance than we used to think,” Ace wrote. “If you can claim you were just trafficking in hateful symbols and statements to raise awareness, you get off scot-free. Even if your hoax winds up tearing up a university over the false allegations and costs tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in investigations.”
“Why I Hate D.C.,” a popular local blog, attacked Marshak for detracting from the real issue of hate crimes.
“Marshak has made it harder for real victims of hate crimes to come forward,” the blog post read. “Every swastika and noose will now be met with an unfair dose of skepticism. Much like the Durham woman who made those false rape allegations against the Duke lacrosse team, Marshak has made it that much harder for people being terrorized to come forward. Was that really worth it, Sarah?”
Some blogs directly attacked Marshak with profane and explicit insults.
“Sarah Marshak What a Bitch,” read the headline on bu.bulicio.us. Another blog was equally direct, calling her a “fucking dunce.”
Clarence Page, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist at the Chicago Tribune, discussed the incident as part of a national obsession with finding any kind of hate crime, whether real or faked.
“The young woman’s sad case might have passed without much off-campus notice if these were not times in which any knucklehead with a rope or a felt-tipped pen can make national news by hanging a noose or scrawling racist graffiti in a conspicuous location,” he wrote on Real Clear Politics.
Jewish blogs were also condemnatory in their response to the incident. Arjewtino discussed Marshak’s devotion to her faith, before writing, “Sarah Marshak is probably a better Jew than me. Except I never drew swastikas on my own door for attention.”
“Whether or not she was responsible for the original drawings is irrelevant,” he continued. “As a Jew, she must have realized the backlash she would receive if she were ever discovered.”
Added one commenter, “I think she misunderstood the term since it doesn’t mean what she implied it to mean. Still, yeah, I hope she can live with herself, which I’m sure she will once she’s expelled.”