The conservative backlash against the student protests at the University of Missouri has taken a strange form. Multiple conservative outlets have challenged the veracity of one of the galvanizing incidents for the protest movement that has led to the resignation of President Tim Wolfe: the Oct. 24 dorm vandalism in which someone drew a swastika using feces on a bathroom wall at the campus’ Gateway residence hall.
The Federalist’s Sean Davis wrote that “no evidence of the alleged incident … has been made publicly available” in an article on Tuesday titled “Was the Poop Swastika Incident at Mizzou a Giant Hoax?” Davis challenges the sources of the reporting of the incident by demanding photographic evidence and skeptically refers to the incident as a possible “immaculate defecation.” He published a follow-up post on Wednesday titled “Meet the Mizzou Student Responsible for Hyping the Poop Swastika,” that implies Residence Halls Association president Billy Donley might have concocted the story in order to further a political agenda.
Stephen L. Miller of National Review on Wednesday published a satirical story ridiculing the poop swastika, for which no photos “have yet emerged,” as a “triumph of conceptual art.” The skepticism continued with Jim Treacher in the Daily Caller, while Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos wrote that it “seems more likely that the swastika is a hoax.”
But an incident of vandalism did occur. Below is a portion of the police report from the incident, which shows exactly what happened: Resident life staff members discovered a swastika drawn in feces, reported it to police at around 2 a.m. on Oct. 24, and the police—upon entering the restroom—discovered “a swastika drawn on the wall by someone using feces [along with] feces on the floor located by the entry way to the restroom.” (Portions of the report below are redacted for privacy or issues related to the open police investigation, university spokesman Christian Basi, who provided Slate with the report, told me.)
So there it is: The poop swastika did exist, contrary to the claims of Davis.
In case you missed any of my eleventy million pun-filled tweets today, the Mizzou poop swastika incident was a hoax https://t.co/Iejw8FvCwZ— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) November 11, 2015
Davis et al. may yet stand by their hoax story. Even before the police report came out, Davis was essentially arguing that the vandalism may also have been an elaborate false flag operation perpetrated by the supposed victims: How could we know, he wrote, that it wasn’t “a public relations stunt meant to tar the university for failing to provide an environment free of racist invective?” In other words, perhaps the swastika was a carefully orchestrated attempt by liberal campus activists to—in this exact order—rile up the student body, inspire a student to go on a hunger strike and a group of the university’s black football players to threaten not to play until Wolfe resigned, generate national media attention, and ultimately depose the university president.
Or maybe it was a genuinely ugly act of racist vandalism. (It isn’t even the only swastika at the school in the past year: A student who burned a swastika in a Missouri dorm stairwell in April eventually pleaded guilty to second-degree property damage.)
This seems to me like the likelier scenario.