The story from Athens, Texas, read like it was custom-tailored for anti-immigration propaganda: A 13-year-old white girl at Athens Middle School attacked and threatened with rape and murder by a gang of 21 Latino students, only because she completed a class assignment to “create a protest sign” of her choice by making a placard that read, “If you love our nation, stop illegal immigration.” The student displayed bruises and scratches to support her account, and her parents demanded a federal investigation.
You might think that nativist bloggers and leaders would be just a little gun shy after the embarrassing case of Angela D. Wilburn, the wife of the Ozarks Minutemen founder. Wilburn fabricated a story last December about being raped and shot by Mexican intruders after she accidentally shot herself.
But, true to form, as soon after the Athens story broke last Tuesday, the “deport-’em-all” Internet posse whipped out their rhetorical six-shooters and commenced blasting.
“I won’t be happy until all these kids are out of the country along with their illegal parents,” wrote “Mammaw” in a typical comment on FireSociety.org. “This just goes to show you the mentality of these third world people.”
William Gheen, founder of the influential political action committee Americans for Legal Immigration (ALI-PAC), described how the 13-year-old victim was “surrounded by a mob of Latino students that either were illegal aliens, in illegal alien families, or supportive of illegal immigration, and attacked.” ALI-PAC’s website called upon members and supporters to blitz the media, local police and school administrators and regional Immigration Customs and Enforcement officials with E-mails, letters and phone calls.
But their protest campaign careened off the rails less than 48 hours later when the alleged victim admitted her story was a hoax. The truth, it turns out, is that while three Latino students ripped the poster from her hands — and those students have since been suspended — a school security camera captured the supposed victim punching and scratching herself to forge evidence. She now faces disciplinary action at the school and is expected to be charged with filing a false police report. She and her parents have issued a formal apology to the school and law enforcement investigators.
Still, some ALIPAC members refuse to let it go. “I am not convinced that Melanie did lie about the attack. She was probably intimidated into recanting by some Latino scumbag,” opines “Reno_Raider.”
Over at Liberty Post, another popular repository of nativist extremist screeds, “IItzlzha” wrote, “My point, if the girl faked it, there are still 3 ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT scum allowed in that school… grab their Family and toss them OUT of the country!”
And just how does “IItzlzha” know that the three students who grabbed the poster are “ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT scum?”
Because they’re Latino, presumably.
Just to make sure, Hatewatch contacted Athens school superintendent Fred Hayes, who doubtless has faced more than his fair share of tiresome queries this month. Hayes was a bit terse, but gracious enough to respond: “There is no indication that these students are not citizens of the United States of America.”