Smollett: The pursuit of victimhood
When Empire actor Jussie Smollett claimed last month that two Trump supporters assaulted him on a Chicago street, said Charles Sykes in TheBulwark.com, leftist partisans “seized on the narrative with both hands.” Ignoring warning signs that Smollett’s account was shaky, the “woke” crowd immediately pointed to the alleged attack on a black, gay actor as further proof of the racism and homophobia in President Trump’s America. “This is MAGA country,” Smollett claimed his attackers shouted as they put a noose around his neck. Now it seems the whole episode was “a hoax.” Chicago police sources say Smollett knew both assailants, a pair of Nigerian-American brothers, and paid them to stage a phony assault to gin up sympathy for him. You’d think “prominent media figures” and Democratic politicians would have learned not to jump the gun, said Steve Cortes in RealClearPolitics.com. After all, it was only a month ago a similar rush to judgment wrongly labeled MAGA hat–wearing Catholic high school kids from Kentucky race-baiters. But as long as a story fits “preconceived negative narratives” about Trump and his supporters, the media and the Left can’t resist.
This is a tragedy, said Nana Efua Mumford in The Washington Post. If Smollett is, indeed, proven to be a fraud, his con will have caused “irreparable damage” to real victims of hate-driven violence against blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, and members of the LGBT community, which is actually up sharply during the Trump era. The FBI says hate crimes jumped 17 percent in 2017, and the Anti-Defamation League noted a 57 percent surge in anti-Semitic incidents the same year. Now, Smollett’s hoax will be cited to cast doubt every time Trump’s hateful rhetoric incites real attacks on real victims. The damage Smollett has done will be “deep and long-lasting.”
Times sure have changed, said Matt Lewis in TheDailyBeast.com. Not long ago, “fakers posed as heroes and winners.” Rosie Ruiz claimed she’d won the Boston Marathon; U.S. Rep. Richard Blumenthal said he was a Vietnam veteran; con man Frank Abagnale “pretended to be a pilot and a doctor.” Now frauds claim “victim status”—the most coveted status of all. Victims instantly get both sympathy and “moral authority,” so why bother pretending to be a hero or a champion? What this says about our society is unclear, “but it can’t be good.” ■