Will They Retract? Pelosi, 2020 Dems, Liberal Groups Believed Jussie Smollett Hate Hoax
After Empire star Jussie Smollett claimed he was attacked in Chicago last month, liberals rushed to defend him and to connect his alleged attack to broad currents of "hate" directed at black and LGBT people. On Saturday, however, Chicago Police confirmed that new evidence has "shifted the trajectory of the investigation," as various outlets reported that police suspect Smollett paid two black men to orchestrate the hate hoax.
The Empire actor claimed to have been attacked by two masked white men who tied a noose around his neck, poured bleach-scented liquid on him, and chanted, "This is MAGA country!" Smollett, who is openly gay, also claimed the attackers shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him. The police statement confirmed growing suspicions about Smollett's story as more evidence has come to light.
If indeed Smollett's story is a hoax, and if police are on the verge of charging him with filing a false report, the liberals who defended his story will have to answer for themselves. Will they retract their statements about the trend of "hate" Smollett's attack revealed?
Here are nine prominent liberal politicians and organizations that spread the Smollett story.
1. Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the alleged attack "racist, homophobic," and "an affront to our humanity."
"The racist, homophobic attack on [Jussie Smollett] is an affront to our humanity," Pelosi tweeted. "No one should be attacked for who they are or whom they love. I pray that Jussie has a speedy recovery & that justice is served. May we all commit to ending this hate once & for all."
2. Joe Biden
Former Vice President Joe Biden, a likely candidate for president in 2020, expressed solidarity with the Empire star and condemned the "homophobia and racism" in the alleged attack.
"What happened today to [Jussie Smollett] must never be tolerated in this country," Biden tweeted. "We must stand up and demand that we no longer give this hate safe harbor; that homophobia and racism have no place on our streets or in our hearts. We are with you, Jussie."
3. Kamala Harris
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, praised Smollett and denounced the attack as an "attempted modern day lynching."
Jussie Smollett "is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know," Harris tweeted. "I’m praying for his quick recovery. This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate."
4. Cory Booker
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), another 2020 presidential candidate, used Smollett's story to push for federal legislation.
"The vicious attack on actor Jussie Smollett was an attempted modern-day lynching. I'm glad he's safe," Booker tweeted. "To those in Congress who don't feel the urgency to pass our Anti-Lynching bill designating lynching as a federal hate crime– I urge you to pay attention."
5. The NAACP
Derrick Johnson, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), connected the alleged attack to President Donald Trump.
"The recent racist and homophobic attack on acclaimed actor and activist Jussie Smollett is troubling. The rise in hate crimes is directly linked to President Donald J. Trump’s racist and xenophobic rhetoric," Johnson said in a statement. "It is dangerous for any society to allow a tone of divisiveness and hatred to dominate the political discourse. As this rhetoric continues to bleed into our everyday lives, dangerous behavior will continue to place many law-abiding individuals at risk."
As if that were not enough, the NAACP president compared Trump's rhetoric to "terrorism." He concluded, "We pray for a full physical and mental recovery Jussie Smollett and many unnamed victims of this forum of hate based terrorism."
As more evidence that Smollett's story may be a hate hoax came to light, Johnson condemned skeptical media reports. "It's unfortunate, the media is verging on demonizing a victim," the NAACP president told The Wrap.
6. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
Chad Griffin, president of the HRC, not only failed to question the Empire star's story, but described the attack as part of a trend.
"This shocking attack on our friend and tremendous advocate Jussie Smollett is, unfortunately, not an isolated incident," Griffin said in a statement. "There is an alarming epidemic of hate violence in our country that disproportionately targets Black people, LGBTQ people, and religious minorities — and particularly those living at the intersections of multiple identities."
Griffin used the story as an opportunity to push "state laws that protect LGBTQ individuals from hate crimes." Indeed, according to FBI statistics, 1,130 of the 7,175 hate crimes in 2017 targeted people based on sexual orientation, and 119 targeted people for their gender identity.
These attacks are horrific, and the crimes reported to the FBI are less likely to be hoaxes. Yet by tying these incidents to Smollett's story, Griffin may have detracted from their seriousness.
The LGBT activist group GLAAD said that it "stands with Jussie and against such hate violence."
"Our hearts are with Jussie Smollett as he recovers from a hate-motivated and repugnant attack in Chicago," GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. "Jussie has always used his voice and talent to create a better world, and it is disgusting that anyone, especially someone who has done such good for so many, would be targeted by undeniable hatred."
"GLAAD condemns these despicable acts as well as the racism and homophobia that drove them," Ellis added. Will she condemn the hoax just as vocally?
8. The ACLU
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also condemned the "racism and homophobia" behind the alleged attack on the Empire star.
"LGBTQ people of color live at multiple intersections of oppression, too often facing violence compounded by both racism and homophobia," the ACLU tweeted. "This isn't the America we want to live in. Our thoughts are with Jussie Smollett and all survivors."
Does the ACLU still consider perpetrators of hate hoaxes "survivors"?
9. The SPLC
Last, but certainly not least, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) seized on the story, using it to bolster its list of "hate groups."
"Hate crimes — especially against LGBTQ+ and black people — are increasing," the SPLC tweeted, believing his story verbatim. "Actor Jussie Smollett, who is both black and gay, was attacked by two men who allegedly shouted, 'This is MAGA country!' after they beat him and put a rope around his neck."
Later, the SPLC used the story to prop up its own smear campaign.
"We track hate. In 2017 alone we counted 51 anti-LGBT groups in the US," the far-Left smear group tweeted. "The violent attack on Jussie Smollett, albeit despicable, is not unique. POC & the LGBTQ community are most commonly targeted – especially those at the intersection of both identities."
The SPLC's "hate map," which plots the organizations it brands "hate groups" on a list with the Ku Klux Klan, inspired a 2012 terrorist attack against the Family Research Council (FRC), a mainstream Christian group the SPLC marked an "anti-LGBT hate group." Last year, the SPLC paid a settlement of $3.375 million to a Muslim reformer it falsely branded an "anti-Islamic extremist." The group is currently facing multiple defamation lawsuits.
Each of these politicians and groups has a chance to reverse their statements on the Jussie Smollett hoax. Will they?
Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.