What should be next to Trayvon Martin's hoodie in the Smithsonian?
I have a suggestion. How about an exhibit on Tawana Brawley? If the purpose of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian is to remember racial controversies, as the proposed Trayvon exhibit seems to confirm, then how about an honest look at the phenomenon of hate crime hoaxes? Particular attention should be paid to the role of the media in both the Trayvon and Tawana materials. Unquestionably, the media stirred up racial animus, and these incidents both contributed to raising racial tensions.
One exhibit should be a copy of Tawana Brawley's first paycheck with hundreds of dollars garnisheed from it, to pay off a lawsuit for having defamed prosecutor Steven Pagones. After delivering 10 checks to him for $3,764.61, she still owes him 430 grand, according to Michael Gartland writing in the New York Post.
Brawley's advisers in the infamous race-baiting case - the Rev. Al Sharpton, and attorneys C. Vernon Mason and Alton Maddox - have already paid, or are paying, their defamation debt. But Brawley, 41, had eluded punishment.
She's now forced to pay Pagones $627 each month, possibly for the rest of her life. Under Virginia law, she can appeal the wage garnishment every six months.
"Finally, she's paying something," said Pagones' attorney, Gary Bolnick. "Symbolically, I think it's very important - you can't just do this stuff without consequences."
Pagones filed for the garnishment with the circuit court in Surry County, Va., in January, a few weeks after The Post tracked down Brawley to tiny Hopewell, Va.
The Smithsonian is funded by all taxpayers for all Americans. The new Museum of African American History and Culture must serve all Americans and be devoted to the truth, not to special interest advocacy. We should pay close attention to the way the Museum decides to display the famous hoodie, and demand that it present the truth about the controversy, including the many systematic media distortions, and the role of the Justice Department in ginning up protests.