Like most Americans, I reacted to the alleged attack on Jussie Smollett by alleged Trump supporters, who were allegedly screaming MAGA slogans, by asking one simple question: Who in the world is Jussie Smollet?
This just proves that I, like most Americans, am a racist. As we all know by now, Smollett is an actor on the once-highly rated FOX drama Empire, where he plays supporting character Jamal Lyon. Who is some sort of singer, I think? I’ve never seen the show, for which I of course profusely apologize. But I’m sure it’s a very good television program, and I’m equally certain that Mr. Smollett is a fine actor.
Smollett says he was attacked on a Chicago street around 2 a.m. Tuesday, on one of the coldest nights in the city’s history. Sandra Gonzalez, CNN:
Smollett was attacked by two people who were “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs” and “poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim,” police said.
One of Smollett’s alleged attackers also put a rope around his neck, according to police. Both fled the scene…
A dozen police detectives, with the assistance of the FBI, are working the case…
A dozen cops, with help from the FBI. I’ll bet they’d be putting twice as many guys on the case if Smollett were white. But it’s a good start.
It was originally reported that the alleged assailants yelled “This is MAGA country” during the attack. Then the Chicago PD said Smollett never told them that. Then the Chicago PD said oh wait, yeah, he did tell them that. So… that seems pretty weird, right?
As Patrick Poole notes, despite all the manpower being thrown at the case, there’s not a lot in terms of evidence. Even with all the surveillance cameras in the area, this is the closest they’ve come to a break:
Photos of people of interest who were in area of the alleged assault & battery of Empire cast member. While video does not capture an encounter, detectives are taking this development seriously & wish to question individuals as more cameras are being reviewed pic.twitter.com/xJDDygtocr
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) January 31, 2019
As you can see, the persons of interest are bipedal, possibly male or female, with no visible amputations. The police can rule out anybody who’s in a wheelchair or a coffin.
Then there’s this little detail:
A consideration regarding the “potential persons of interest” being sought by police in connection with reported hate crime incident in Streeterville: The men are walking *away* from the attack scene 15-30 minutes *before* the incident, per police timing of events.
— CWBChicago (@CWBChicago) January 31, 2019
Well, we all know how sneaky and underhanded those Trump supporters can be. Is it really outside the realm of possibility that they broke the rules of time and space to carry out this violent attack? Couldn’t they be MAGAcians?
Smollett is no Trump fan, which is no surprise for a working actor. What is surprising is that he’s been publicly seething about Trump even longer than most of his peers:
That first one is from December 2011. How many people were this angry about Trump all the way back in December 2011? Yeah, there was the birther stuff, but that was 9-10 months before. Maybe Smollett was still carrying a grudge about it? Now, that’s not to say he’s now making up an attack by Trump supporters, but he’s not exactly an unbiased observer of current events.
And the outlandish details of the alleged assault don’t inspire confidence either. Two Trump supporters were out for a walk in the middle of the coldest night in Chicago history. For some reason, they were armed with a noose and an “unknown chemical substance.” They saw Smollett, recognized him from TV, and decided then and there to attack him. And so far, there’s no evidence to support any of it.
I know it’s racist and homophobic of me, but I’m going to reserve judgment on this one.
Less than two weeks ago, we were all supposed to be outraged that some kids in MAGA hats attacked a Native American gentleman in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Then it turned out that nobody attacked anybody, but by then the Catholic school those kids attend had to shut down because of all the death threats. That was a MAGA hat in search of a crime, and now we have a possible crime in search of a MAGA hat.
Look, I don’t know what happened to Jussie Smollett. Maybe he’s telling us what he sincerely remembers happening. I’ve been assaulted on a city street — moving away from Washington, D.C., is the best decision I’ve ever made — and I know how stressful and confusing the experience is. Even when the injuries heal and the physical pain subsides, it’s still traumatic. It’s awful, and I don’t wish it on anybody. I hope Smollett makes a speedy recovery.
But it seems premature to blame Trump supporters, or Trump, or anybody other than the alleged culprits. Where’s the harm in waiting for the facts to come in?
Or even a single fact at all?