When the initial reports came in on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett’s alleged attack in Chicago, I was immediately skeptical. No. I’ll take that back. I was about 98.7% percent sure it was bullshit. But I acted like a good little boy and kept my suspicions to myself and waited for the facts to come out. Now they have.
Chicago Police now believe Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate the assault.
Why the initial skepticism? Oh, nothing. Except for the fact that the victim’s statement read like a serendipitous collision of stereotypical tropes. The only thing missing was allegations of a white hood floating around.
The openly-gay actor claimed he was beaten by two white males at two in the morning on one of the coldest nights ever in Chicago. They placed a noose around his neck and poured bleach on him. They called him homophobic slurs and assured him, “This is MAGA Country!” If this screenplay had been submitted to a Hollywood producer it would have been rejected as too trite and formulaic.
It had all of the ingredients of previous attack hoaxes we have endured in recent years. Cartoonishly-evil bad guys with the right skin color and chromosomal arrangement spewing loaded comments…all while attacking someone with the right skin color and sexual orientation. One-dimensional characters with clearly defined white hats and black hats.
And this son of a bitch had the Chutzpah to fake cry this week in an interview on Good Morning America, saying people doubt him because “the attackers” were not black or latino.
“It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more,” Smollett said. “And that says a lot about the place where we are as a country right now.”
Jussie Smollett will now rightfully take his place alongside Tawana Brawley, Crystal Mangum, the Rolling Stone UVa accuser, Christine Blasey Ford and so many others. It is my fervent hope that he is charged and punished—although that rarely seems to happen in these cases. That is endlessly frustrating. We are offering little in the way of disincentive to coerce people to NOT create fake hate crimes. So they will undoubtedly continue. Plus, we have made it possible to turn victimhood into moral and literal currency. So we will see much more.
Smollett will now claim depression or some other such malady. There will be a tearful Oprah-worthy interview, blaming everyone but himself. Indeed, he may even take the route that passively blames hetero white males for creating a culture that made him live a life where hostility was constant.
The Media, Hollywood and all of the rest of the usual suspects will rally to his side. Once again we will be assured that his lie is less important that the fact that it “started a much-needed national conversation” on a problem that (in this instance) didn’t exist. None of the high-profile celebrities or politicians who used this fiction to pigeonhole people based on their race and politics will ever be called on the carpet. They will talk of Smollett’s “bravery” for admitting to his mistake. Then they will jump like a starving wolf on a three-day old pork chop the next time allegations are made by someone that buttresses their worldview.
Hell, since it happened on a bitterly-cold night, don’t be surprised if some creative apologist works a Climate Change excuse in somehow. Yes…we are now THAT stupid.
And for all of you who used this as a thin pretense to judge an entire swath of people based on immutable characteristics…I will not offer an olive branch. I instead wish you discomfort. It is clear that you have no desire to bring people together.