Why is there any sympathy for Jussie Smollett?
The television star’s incendiary allegations that he’d been the victim of an ugly racial attack imploded yesterday. His story fell apart. It was apparently, all an act.
Smollett had claimed he was assaulted on a downtown Chicago street by pro-Trump racists wearing red MAGA hats while walking late at night. His allegations sounded implausible from the start. That’s the reason so many of us sympathetic to the victims of hate crimes took a “wait and see” approach to the alleged incident. Not that racially-motivated and homophobic attacks like the one described by the TV actor don’t happen in America. Yes, they do. It’s just that so many pieces of Smollett’s case didn’t seem to add up.
Admittedly, I’d never heard of Jussie Smollett until this controversy. He’s the co-star of a popular hit television show, Empire. Based on a persistent and often feisty social media presence, Smollett, who is a gay Black man, has been described as an outspoken activist.
Investigators now believe the attack on Smollett was a fabrication. It was staged. If this proves to be true, he’s about to become the new Tawana Brawley. Recall, she’s the despicable young girl who accused multiple police officers of a brutal gang rape thirty years ago, sparking national outrage. Eventually, a thorough investigation found that she made the whole thing up.
Although there are clear parallels in the two cases, there are also significant differences. Brawley was a poor Black girl with little education. Not that she deserved any slack but let’s also remember: Brawley was a minor, just 15 when she claimed she’d been raped by four men. At least there were grounds for understanding what happened in the Brawley case. The girl lived in an abusive household, feared severe punishment for staying out late one night, and made up her story as an excuse.
Smollett has no excuses for fabricating his criminal conspiracy. He’s a relatively affluent, seemingly intelligent man, with a highly-successful career and — until this moment — a very bright future. Inventing such a far-fetched story makes absolutely no sense, nor has any justification whatsoever.
Accordingly, Jussie Smollett should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
The Chicago Police Department spent a countless number of hours on this case which began three weeks ago. Law enforcement dedicated considerable manpower to their investigation. Dozens of people were interviewed. Businesses with surveillance cameras were summoned to provide any evidence of a crime. Hence, police wasted considerable time and effort chasing an invisible rabbit down a hole. These pointless efforts reduced the precious resources available that might otherwise have been allocated elsewhere in Chicago, which does have a serious crime problem. If dozens of police officers were out rabbit hunting Smollett’s false claims, that’s less law enforcement on the streets, and by consequence, more incidents of unsolved crime. Smollett has done a terrible thing, and now he should pay for it.
But the real victims of Smollett’s deception (if eventually proven), are all those people from lesser backgrounds with little money, fame, or power who must live in constant fear and have to endure pervasive racism and homophobia in their daily lives. They don’t have Smollett’s easy access to media nor talent for playing the convincing role of a crime victim, so they won’t get on TV to tell their stories. The casualties of this contrived canard are future victims of hate crimes. Now, because of doubts and discord and the lingering impossible-to-ignore memories we all have, they’ll face even more doubts. They must meet higher, perhaps impossible thresholds, to prove when racially-motivated crimes actually do happen. The movement Smollett purportedly wants to help shall ultimately pay the highest cost for his blatant deception.
That’s the real crime.
If evidence is found to implicate Jussie Smollett in a conspiracy, then he must be prosecuted. Then, if he’s found guilty — lock him away. For a long time.
We must make an example in this case and send a clear message: There’s more than enough racism and homophobia in America already, without having to make things up.