After weeks of absolute chaos, actor Jussie Smollett has been arrested by the Chicago Police and charged for disorderly conduct in the wake of new evidence that has convinced both the public and law enforcement that Smollett concocted the attack himself in order to further his career. At a news conference Thursday morning, police Supt. Eddie Johnson said, “Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career. This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn, and certainly didn’t deserve.”
Jussie Smollett hired two black men to wear ski masks and red “Make America Great Again” hats and choreographed the entire “attack,” including instructing them to put a noose around his neck once he signaled for them to stop. He told police that the men were white, among other blatant lies. Of all the components of this elaborate plot, many believe that this lie is the most disturbing of them all. An African American civil rights activist, Najee Ali, has said that faking this attack could very well have triggered the “outbreak of a race war.” The noose that Smollett instructed the men to place around his neck, symbolic of the lynching of African Americans throughout some of the darkest parts of America’s history, is purposefully antagonistic and divisive among the public. It was included for the shock factor and to incite memories of pain and suffering. In this time of political unrest and resentment, those added feelings can become extremely dangerous.
The turmoil surrounding fake police reports, especially those having to do with race, gender, or religion, are an ongoing problem in America. Due to the sensitive manner in which the public and the media typically treat victims of discrimination, it has become far too easy to take advantage of both that inherent human desire to believe a victim and the law enforcement system. Public opinion continues to play a crucial role in how perpetrators are dealt with in American society—and in cases like this one, the public usually responds in angry mob form. Below are a few tweets following the attack from some especially outraged current congressmen and women, although the outpouring of support came from fellow celebrities, businesspeople, and the general media as well:
With 2019 being such a tumultuous year for politics and social justice, many Americans on both sides of the aisle are constantly upset and looking for ways to bring attention to their cause. Jussie Smollett, an identified angry anti-Trump actor, saw his opportunity to do so by faking an attack on himself and claiming it was motivated by hatred against African Americans and homosexuals. Smollett had his hired hitmen dress up in red “Make America Great Again” hats and yell disgusting racist and homophobic slurs at him in order to get the media to report it. He hoped that would cause everyone watching and listening to associate that red hat with hate crimes. One of the goals was to smear Trump supporters and contribute to the unfair stereotype that “this is just how they are”—homophobic, racist, and, as a result, violent. He is using a new practice we’re seeing more and more as the political atmosphere grows hostile. Victimhood and oppression are the new privilege. At this point, the woes Smollett frequently lectured and continues to lecture the public about as a black and gay man became so bad that he actually had to hire people to oppress him so he could achieve that coveted status and all the benefits that come with it—public support and sympathy being the most potent of them all. By using the plights of groups who sincerely face discrimination each day simply to further his career, he has insulted thousands of Americans who lie in that demographic and millions more who sympathize with them.
Jussie Smollett used real problems in America and within his demographic to advance a morally wrong political agenda and to get attention for himself and his career. He has slighted millions of people around the world who are attacked daily because of their race, sexual orientation, or one of the other thousands of things that make humans different from one another. He has discredited them. Much like a fake rape accusation, Smollett has created an atmosphere of suspicion among Chicago Police and around the country that now will cause real problems. Because the case has become so high profile, everyone will remember the time that a celebrity paid some thugs to beat him up and cast it off as a hate crime.
Smollett is facing one felony charge for disorderly conduct which covers filing a false police report. His bail was set at $100,000, and he was released on Thursday, February 21st. If convicted, he will face one to three years in prison and substantial fines. With that nice break from filming Empire, maybe then he’ll have some time to think about the dangerous and destructive impact his greediness and self-obsession could have had on the American political and social scenes—after all, he’s clearly quite passionate about social change if he’s willing to put his body on the line for it.