Unraveling the Harvard Law School Hate Crime

I wrote here about the supposed hate crime that has roiled Harvard Law School: someone put small pieces of black tape over the portraits of black law professors that hang in Wasserstein Hall. This incident is somehow related, we are told, to the fact that the law school’s crest includes three sheaves of wheat, taken from the arms of a man named Isaac Royall, a slaveowner who donated money with which the law school was founded 200 years ago:


A student group called Royall Must Fall has been campaigning to get rid of the law school’s crest. With the discovery of the pieces of tape (coincidentally, by a Social Justice Warrior), the school went into full hysteria mode. Dean Martha Minow told students that racism is a “serious problem” at Harvard Law School, which she has led since 2009, apparently without noticing the “serious problem” until now.

Almost all campus hate crimes turn out to be hoaxes, and this one probably is too. That argument is made by a group of Harvard Law students who have anonymously set up a web site called Royall Asses. The linked page is titled: “Relax: It Was a Hoax, Not a ‘Hate Crime,’ at Harvard Law School.” Other pages include “What the Royall Asses Did”, “The Evidence Inculpating the Royall Asses”, “Who Are the Royall Asses?” and “Chance of Harvard Law ‘Hate Crime’ Hoax is 99.99%”.

I won’t try to summarize the evidence; suffice it to say that it is highly persuasive. I will merely note that not all of the black professors’ pictures were defaced: the photo of Lani Guinier, the most radical of Harvard’s black law professors, was untouched.


Oh, one more thing: black protesters did exactly the same thing–placed tape over the portraits of black law professors–a year ago. I suspect that the authors of Royall Asses have understated the probability of this event being a hoax.

Things seem to have quieted down a bit at the law school, and there hasn’t been any news about the hate crime investigation for a few days. If it becomes obvious that it was a hoax, the school will likely let the whole thing fade away, while nevertheless adding a diversity sinecure or two to the school’s staff to counter its serious racism problem. The most recent fallout I can find is an op-ed in the Boston Globe by a “diverse” third-year scholarship student, urging law school alumni to stop supporting such a racist institution–a singularly ungrateful act, ill-timed for the season of Thanksgiving.