fireThere was a report this morning of arson fires at several black churches
that gave me a flashback to the summer of 1996, when I was still managing editor of The Herald-Sun in Durham.

From June to September of that year there were hysterical reports of huge waves of fires set at black churches by white supremacists. All the predictable race-baiting organizations, and the media, got in on the act.

President Clinton gave a national speech about it, and talked about all the black churches that had burned during his childhood in Arkansas. But an Arkansas newspaper did some real reporting (rare even then) and found that there were no black churches burned at all during Clinton’s childhood, a period he claimed in his speech to “remember” with anguish.

Soon it became evident that this was largely a hoax pushed by groups that wanted to create a racial firestorm, so to speak, that would benefit Clinton at a crucial point in his presidency.

In reality, the incidence of church fires had not gone up. They were occurring pretty much at the same rate as they had for many years, and at black AND white churches.

Those who had claimed victimhood and accused white supremacists of the acts suddenly changed their story. One even said, after many irresponsible accusations, “We think that epidemic or not, even one church torched because of racial hatred is one too many.” A more accurate caricature of left-wing backfilling after being caught in a lie could not be imagined.

Keep 1996 in mind in the coming weeks. It’s likely the same divisive tactic will be tried again.