Here is what one would need to believe to conclude that someone other than the Royall Asses was responsible for this incident.
A white racist lurks the halls of Harvard Law School.
Late at night on November 18, while boiling mad at a march by black protesters earlier that evening which virtually no one on the law school campus even noticed (it was centered at the undergrad campus, a quarter mile away, and the turnout was perhaps only a tenth of the turnout for the “Black Lives Matter” marches last year), the white racist happened to walk through the lobby of Wasserstein Hall near midnight, when very few students are around, shortly before the building closed.
For some reason, while walking through the lobby, the white racist was carefully scanning the floor, and examined the mat in front of the door. Because you never know when some black protesters might want to use a floor mat for an “educational art action.”
He or she had to look very intently, because the lobby of Wasserstein Hall is very large, and the door mat is very small:
(Note: Before this incident, it did not consciously register in our minds that there even was a mat in front of the door, much less that it bore the Harvard Law School crest. Perhaps we’re unusually oblivious to our surroundings, but we submit that normal people tend not to notice door mats, and even when they do they do not study what’s on them.)
Seeing the black tape on the door mat, the white racist was seized with a brilliant idea: risking ruining his or her life, by being caught and branded as a racist, he or she would pull some black tape off the mat, cut it into neat segments (apparently he or she had a pair of scissors handy, so that the edges of the tape placed on the portraits would be neat, rather than torn by hand), and then run up and down the hall putting tape over the faces of all the black professors.
Well, not all the black professors. You see, this white racist, although consumed by hatred toward black people due to the recent protests on racial issues, somehow neglected to put black tape over the face of the most controversial black professor on campus. He or she missed the portrait of Lani Guinier, which was unscathed.
Perhaps the white racist, in a hurry, failed look at the area of the portraits where Prof. Guinier’s portrait appears? No. For this was a thoroughly incompetent angry white racist. He or she put black tape over the face of a boring and uncontroversial black professor (Scott Brewer), but didn’t notice Prof. Guinier’s portrait, inches to the left.
So let’s sum up, with some statistical analysis, just how incredibly improbable it is that an angry, but thoroughly incompetent, white racist stumbled on the scene late at night shortly after the Royall Asses left, and decided to vandalize their “educational art action,” using the tape to cover the faces of black professors, but skipping the portrait of the black professor most friendly to black activists on campus, and most hated by white racists.
A series of unlikely, completely independent events would have had to occur for a white racist to create the facts on the ground that are most easily explained as simply another in the tiresome litany of black protesters staging hoaxes.
Suppose 5 percent of the roughly 2000 students at Harvard Law school (including graduate students) are white racists who might conceivably have been tempted to do this (0 to 1 percent is a more likely figure).
Suppose 5 percent of all students — 100 in all — walked through the lobby during the window of opportunity (1 or 2 percent is a more likely figure).
So of the 100 students who would have had the opportunity, only five of them are white racists.
What are the odds that one of these students, walking through the lobby, would even notice that there the door mat had black tape on it? Studying door mats is just not something normal people do. We submit that there’s at most a 1 in 10 chance that any of the five white racist students who conceivably could have walked through during this narrow window of vulnerability would even notice the black tape.
So now there’s only a 50/50 chance that a white racist even noticed the black tape.
Even having noticed the black tape, what are the odds that it would occur to the white racist that the black tape was part of some “educational art action,” or had some connection to the march by black students which occurred earlier that evening? The connection hardly seems obvious. But possibly there’s a 50/50 chance of such a connection being made.
So now there’s only a 1 in 4 chance that a white racist saw the black tape, and realized it was placed by black protesters, and started thinking about how the black tape might be used in a counterprotest.
What are the odds that this white racist would come up with the idea of pulling black tape off the floor mats, walking far down the hall, and putting tape over the faces of black professors? And what are the odds that he or she also had a pair of scissors handy, to cut the tape into neat, short strips? We submit at most 1 in 5.
It would not occur to relatively normal people on the spur of the moment to pull tape off a floor mat and run around and put it on portraits. This is an idea far more likely to occur to black protesters angry that no one’s paying attention to their agenda, with substantial time on their hands to brainstorm about how best to create a “hate crime” hoax (especially if, as seems to be the case, black protesters came up with the idea last year of putting black tape over the faces of the black professors).
So now there’s only a 1 in 20 chance that a white racist stumbled onto the scene and even thought of the idea of vandalizing the art exhibit and using the black tape in an act of hate speech against black professors that would be a godsend to the black protesters he or she hates, and certainly doesn’t want to help.
What are the odds that this white racist Harvard law student would be idiotic enough to actually follow through on this ridiculously stupid idea, and wouldn’t realize that such a stunt would totally backfire? Harvard law students are pretty smart (particularly those not admitted under affirmative action, and the “hate crime” hypothesis is that the culprit was such a person). We submit the odds that even the most racist white Harvard law student would do something this colossally stupid are only only 1 in 5.
So now we’re down to a 1 in 100 chance that a colossally stupid white racist Harvard law student stumbled on the scene and, equipped with the pair of scissors he or she happened to have handy, and heedless of the risk he or she was taking, if discovered, of completely ruining his or her life, snipped the black tape on the art exhibit into short strips, and put them over the faces of black professors.
But what are the odds that this angry white racist would put black tape over the face of an utterly uncontroversial black professor (Scott Brewer) and not notice the portrait, inches to the left, of the most controversial black professor (Lani Guinier)? We submit that Prof. Guinier’s portrait would be a white racist’s #1 target, making it inconceivable that a white racist did this. But even assuming there’s a 1 in 10 chance that a white racist would miss the chance to “deface” her portrait, that further reduces the odds that a random, angry, colossally stupid and incompetent white racist created the facts on the ground as they existed on the morning of November 19, down to 1 in 1000.
But we’re not yet done. There’s one final point. Recall that if second-year law student Derecka Purnell hadn’t picked that day to arrive at least an hour and a half before her first class, we would never have learned about this supposed “hate crime.” A law professor was about to rip down all the black tape, before anyone took photos of the “hate crime,” when Ms. Purnell arrived as the second student on the scene and stopped the law professor, telling him: “We must call the police.”
If a colossally stupid white racist Harvard law student did put up the tape, what are the odds that a racial-justice community organizer and committed black activist such as Ms. Purnell would just happen to pick that day to show up at school an hour and a half early, just in time to be the second student on the scene, so she could play a pivotal role in the event by insisting that the tape not be pulled down — and then could immediately get photos of the “hate crime” on Facebook, which she did at 8:31 a.m.?
If Ms. Purnell can offer a good explanation for why she was there that morning, as she put it, “so early,” we’ll be happy to reconsider our calculations. But barring such an explanation, we submit that the odds are at least 10 to 1 against Ms. Purnell having simply happened along at the exact time she needed to be there to preserve evidence of a “hate crime” carried out by a white racist. That means the odds are only 1 in 10,000 that this was a “hate crime” carried out by a white racist.
So it turns out that even making ridiculously conservative assumptions (obviously five percent of Harvard law students aren’t racists willing to risk their careers to do something like this; there probably isn’t even one such student at the law school), we’ve demonstrated that there’s at least a 99.99% chance that, as campus security concluded within an hour of “Tape-Gate” being discovered, this was nothing more than a totally inept hoax carried out by black protesters.
And probably also Derecka Purnell.