By: Dylan Brennan, Columnist
When choosing this topic, I was a bit worried actor Jussie Smollett would be too much of a low hanging fruit, or at the very least rotted away in the short memories of news corporations. But as I recalled, he isn’t the only bad apple in the past for issues like this. For those who aren’t aware, Smollett has been indicted and is currently being tried for falsifying his own attack. Smollett originally claimed he was assaulted by two racist, homophobic men who did everything from pouring bleach on him to placing a noose around his neck.
Of course, it sounded a bit too perfect to be realistic, especially expecting two random, purported Trump supporters recognizing a star from the show ‘Empire’ in the dead of night, whilst holding the perfect tools of the trade.
As it so happens, the Chicago police have determined that the crime may indeed be too perfect to be true, and have released the two suspects – who are both black men who worked with Smollett on his show – without charges, as well as investigated Smollett’s phone and financial records, which I must say look quite damning. The trial is still ongoing and he is innocent until proven guilty in the court of law, but I hold the right to condemn him in the court of public opinion with evidence at hand.
But as I said, while the news media may make this seem like a phenomenon, it is anything but. In 2017, I can remember a big deal being made about the US Air Force Academy having an issue with racial slurs being written around the walls of the campus. CNN made a big deal about the Air Force commander’s speech about unity in the face of Donald Trump’s divisiveness about this heinous act. But guess what: it was an African-American who was writing the slurs.
What about after the election, when a pro-LGBT church in Indiana was vandalized with graffiti of ‘Heil Trump’ and homophobic slurs? Same deal: it was a self-identified gay man who claimed he did this act out of love for his community; to draw attention to a problem he knew of, but did not want to actually happen in his town. He of course admitted he was wrong about putting out more hate just to create artificial unity, but the fact remains he tried to exaggerate a problem more than was realistic or immediate.
I am not at all saying that racism and homophobia don’t exist; and if I were, may nobody take me seriously again. It is just sad that through confirmed liars like the latter two, in addition to suspected fraud Smollett, that with attempts to bring attention to real issues, they will almost always be doing worse for their cause. Crying wolf will only create more doubt when problems like these actually happen; it’s why sides were so split on the recent Brett Kavanaugh hearings about purported sexual assault. People are beginning to doubt even the most genuine of crimes both sexual and hate. Unless there is undeniable proof, some will always have a seed of doubt over the validity of the accusations.
While these faked incidents are thankfully in the minority, they validate many political agendas that can rile up politicians and activists alike to the false idols. They are extremely dangerous as they swallow up the news cycles and stay in the memories of everyone who keeps an ear to the ground. Smollett’s case rides on the hot heels of the Covington Catholic incident only a few weeks ago, which through later evidence was proven to be misinterpreted. If Smollett indeed turns out to be a hoaxer, he’ll have done more for the political right than many of its own members.