It’s been less than a week since Jussie Smollett’s tearful, righteously indignant appearance on Good Morning America to talk about the physical and psychic wounds inflicted on him by an uncaring world. While Robin Roberts nodded sympathetically, Smollett scolded everybody who doubted his harrowing tale of intersectional oppression. If you were skeptical that he was really assaulted on an upscale Chicago street at 2 a.m. in sub-zero temperatures by Trump supporters with a bottle of bleach and a noose — who attacked him on sight while screaming, “This is MAGA country,” because they recognized him from his once-popular show Empire and hated him for his anti-Trump tweets — that meant you were a racist and a homophobe. Shame on you!
That was just hours before Smollet’s world started to fall apart, and now he’s rapidly running out of defenders. Even the writers on Empire, who just a few days ago angrily rebutted the claim that they were writing him out of the show, are now writing him out of the show. Nancy Pelosi is deleting the evidence that she believed him. The presidential candidates who leapt to his defense are now leaping the hell back. And all the while, the cops are closing in on him. This is not working out as planned.
As if all that isn’t bad enough, now it turns out that Smollett could be in trouble for yet another alleged fake hate crime, and the consequences could be even worse.
The two brothers involved in the Jussie Smollett attack told police that Smollett was behind creating a racist letter that was sent to the actor on the set of his show, “Empire,” according to two sources with first-hand knowledge of the investigation.
And when that letter did not get a “bigger reaction,” Smollett orchestrated the attack a week later with the two men–Ola and Abel Osundairo, sources said…
The note was crafted with letters apparently cut out from magazines to form words. The pieced-together message contained racial and homophobic threats directed at Smollett. A magazine is one of the pieces of evidence retrieved from the brother’s home last week during a search conducted by CPD.
Here’s the note:
Latest in @JussieSmollett story:
• Threat letter called “enormous mistake” that is “certain” to bring federal charges
• Purported hate crime attack site determined — and it’s not where everyone thought
— CWBChicago (@CWBChicago) February 19, 2019
So, here’s a hypothesis: Let’s say you’re a fairly successful actor who happens to be black and gay. You write a fake letter to yourself, with “You will die black f*g” in letters cut out of magazines and a crudely drawn picture of yourself being shot, and you scrawl the return address “MAGA” on the envelope. You put in crushed aspirin so it looks like domestic terrorism. Then you send the letter to the address of the studio where your TV show is filmed.
You frame Trump supporters for attacking you because you’re black and gay. You know in your heart that it’s true, and you’re tired of waiting around for them to do something about it.
And… nobody cares. Yeah, the cops show up and do tests on it, all that stuff, but there’s no news coverage. There’s no outrage. This is how the lived experiences of black and gay people are dismissed in America, right? This is whiteness at work. They’re all so wrapped up in their privilege that they can’t accept that these things happen.
Well, okay, in this case it didn’t really happen, but it could have happened. Fake but accurate.
So then, hypothetically, it’s time to escalate matters. If a fake letter doesn’t get you the attention you deserve, if it doesn’t expose the people you hate most in the world, then it’s time to stage a fake hate crime. You hire a couple of guys you know from work, you send them on a shopping trip to get the appropriate supplies for a fake lynching, and you have them pretend to assault you.
And… success! This is what finally gets you the recognition and victimhood you crave. Celebrities and politicians line up to praise your bravery and condemn the sort of people who would commit such a horrible hate crime in [current year]. You’re the new face of the #Resistance. You’re a symbol of everything Trump and his racist, homophobic supporters hate. You’re what every woke American today aspires to be: a victim.
Then it all starts to collapse, over a few measly facts.
If Smollett faked this letter, he could face federal charges in addition to the almost-certain state and local charges in Chicago. Let’s hope it was worth the trouble, just to be a celebrated victim for a couple of weeks.