Jussie’s folly: Fitting the narrative
Jack Zinsky | Wednesday, February 20, 2019
“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett claimed to be attacked by two white Trump supporters in Chicago on Jan. 29. The outcry, as always, was immediate, as is the case in all incidents that cast conservatives in a poor light. The attack was recently exposed as a likely staged incident set up by Smollett himself, who was angry that a racist letter sent to him did not get more exposure. Instead of casting the letter, a real instance of racism, to the forefront, Smollett chose to furnish an elaborate hoax that fooled the identity politics watchdogs of the media.
Smollett’s mistake was crafting the hoax to fit the left’s narrative too perfectly. A pair of white men in Make America Great Again (MAGA) hats and ski masks beating a black man and leaving him with a noose around his neck? Too good to be true. Some knew immediately that something was suspicious. Rational thinkers decided to wait for all the facts to present themselves. Police had no suspects and Jussie did not want to talk to police. It was good enough for the media, though, who rallied in support of Smollett just as they did for Nathan Phillips, the Native American from the Covington Catholic incident. Despite the media’s conclusions, the investigative work of Chicago police revealed that Smollett paid two Nigerian men to carry out the attack. Such desperation can only be found in today’s political climate. A justifiably disgruntled Smollett wanted retribution for a wrong. However, instead of bringing to light a very real racist letter, he decided to create a spectacle, jeopardizing the credibility of any future high-profile hate crime claims.
In the process of perpetuating his lie, Smollett interviewed with Robin Roberts. During the session, he masterfully concocted some tears and self-pity. When asked why he was targeted, he cited his willingness to harshly criticize President Trump. This was the point at which everyone should have discovered that this was all a play to further an agenda. An appeal to the emotions of a nation stirred up by every single claim, every single unsubstantiated report. Jussie was dealt an excellent hand, but his heavy-handedness, unwillingness to cooperate with police and the far-too-convenient story made him the current face of everything wrong with outrage culture.
This is not the first incident where the media immediately assumed that the perpetrator of a hate crime was a white Trump supporter. In early November, after the horrific anti-Semitic shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue, a different synagogue was vandalized in New York with despicable phrases like “Jews better be ready” and “Die Jew rats, we are here.” The media initially jumped onto this act of cowardice and blamed white conservatives, per usual. After evidence was finally collected, the perpetrator turned out to be a young African American man who worked on the Obama campaign. He was even profiled at one point by the NYT for his help in the 2008 election. The initial claims of angry MAGA hats attacking the Jewish community could not have been further from the truth.
Parallel to the issue of manufactured hate is the left’s refusal to acknowledge actual anti-Semites, such as Democratic leaders Louis Farrakhan and Ilhan Omar. Farrakhan, hailed as a great figurehead and spiritual leader in the African American community, is very open about his anti-Jewish sentiments and has claimed, “The powerful Jews are my enemy,” and “White folks are going down. And Satan is going down. And Farrakhan, by God’s grace, has pulled the cover off of that Satanic Jew and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through.” Farrakhan’s continued relevance despite the hatred in his heart and words is astounding. Ilhan Omar’s recent comments have cast a shadow on her tenure in office, originally hailed as a great win for diversity. Sadly, it appears that Omar does not hold the same love of inclusion as most Americans. While she did “apologize” for implying that the government was being controlled by so-called “Jewish money,” her comments immediately following her apology doubled down on her original statement. It is incredibly disappointing to see that anti-Semitism on the left is either ignored or repaired with a half-hearted apology, while those on the right are accused of violent, fictional hate crimes.
While the public knows that the accountability of the media (on both sides) has been questionable, the handling of the Jussie Smollett hoax is particularly disturbing. Hate crimes should never be used as a spark to create more hate for the perpetrators, but should instead be seen as a call to help the oppressed. If the U.S. hopes to see a future without racism, people will need to set aside their prejudices. On top of this, they must stop their search for oppression that simply is not there. Only then will unity be possible.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.