The general narrative about the Jussie Smollett trial starting this week is that the actor is charged with staging a hoax hate crime against himself. But the word “hoax” isn’t accurate.
Smollett wasn’t engaging in a hoax. He was perpetuating a scam and that scam has a name. It’s called “social justice.” (Or, in the Biden administration’s parlance, “equity.”)
It’s not like Smollett is a demonstrable sociopath who told an aimless lie about being attacked by Trump supporters in 2019 for the sake of it. According to a very solid case built by an exhaustive Chicago police investigation, Smollett pretended to be the victim of a violent racist and anti-gay assault because he wanted more fame and thus more money.
What better way to achieve that goal than to feed into the enduring myth that minorities in America are suppressed at every turn, even targeted for violence by whites? White men in particular, and, as of 2016, even better if they’re Trump supporters.
Police charged that Smollett offered to pay two brothers he was acquainted with about $2,000 each to act out an attack on the actor in the dead of a Chicago winter night. The siblings, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, told investigators that Smollett had given them $100 to buy masks, a red hat, and a rope that would be fashioned into a kind of noose for the staged attack. The Osundairos were instructed to confront Smollett on a sidewalk, slightly rough him up, and then disappear.
The setup preceeded a previous stunt, wherein Smollett mailed himself a threatening letter that said, “You will d[ie] black fag,” accompanied by an illustration of a hangman. Police said Smollett’s failure to garner any significant national attention from the letter is what led him to fake the assault.
“…This announcement today recognizes that ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” then-police superintendent Eddie Johnson said in late February, after his department probed the events from the night of the incident. He said Smollett was mostly motivated by seeking a salary increase for his role on “Empire.”
That was the conclusion of law enforcement after spending more than $100,000 taxpayer dollars on an investigation to piece together surveillance video, eye-witness testimony, and data gathering that led them to believe Smollett had lied about everything.
But in all fairness, who could blame him? This is what our entire culture is teaching now— that the quickest way to advance is to claim victimhood on account of race, sex, or sexual identity — ideally, some combination of all three.
Lucrative opportunities present themselves quickly for those who sell themselves as oppressed and aggrieved. And for Smollett, it worked! Nobody knew who he was before he claimed to have been physically confronted and called the n-word and the f-word by white male Trump supporters. Thereafter, everyone knew who he was.
He was written about in The New York Times, the Washington Post, and USA Today. A-list celebrities, TV hosts and political leaders expressed their solidarity.
After that kind of publicity, the only ones who needed a salary boost were the Osundairo brothers. Smollett was set for life, with a pay increase from his show undoubtedly dwarfed by the looming book deals and showbiz acts that were undoubtedly ready to present themselves.
Unfortunately for Smollett, he got caught. Unfortunately for the rest of us, the social justice scam didn’t start with Smollett, and it doesn’t end with him, either.