Now that it’s been all-but confirmed Empire actor Jussie Smollett staged the attack against him — with sources close to the investigation saying he paid two Nigerian brothers to attack him, an incident he later blamed on racist Trump supporters — the question naturally becomes: why?
The man has no doubt ruined his reputation and very possibly his career. While he told Robin Roberts in a widely publicized Good Morning America interview that he “come[s] really, really hard against 45” (meaning Trump), his motive for potentially stirring up a battle over race and sexual identity (just check out the threads on Twitter of those supporting his lie without the benefit of fact) makes very little sense. Particularly because, by some early accounts, he staged the attack because he believed he was going to be written off his hit show. (The network denied that almost immediately.)
Are we to believe Smollett took the risk of ruination, paying by some accounts several thousand to the fake attackers, simply because he dislikes the Trump administration that intensely, but then was unwilling to admit to that hatred? He’s been pretty open about his feelings on the Trump admin, so why not just use that as the reason? It was just so important to bring light to the awfulness of the administration that desperate measures had to be taken, or something like that. It’s absurd, but at least it’s consistent.
He’s of course still denying he played a part in orchestrating the attack, so perhaps we just aren’t there yet. But the motive for the trickery remains elusive, and will likely end up being the most critical part of the whole story (if we ever get the benefit of hearing it).
Until that story is finally told, one man thinks he might understand at least how the social condition of the country was ripe for this kind of hoax — and why Smollett may not have thought he was taking much of a risk.
Freelance journalist Andy Ngo, a gay man himself who did tremendous work covering the Resist rallies that took place last year in the Pacific Northwest, spoke with Ben Shapiro about what he thinks may have motivated Smollett, and it’s an indictment of a culture prone to panic, fed by a media seeking sensational ledes.
Now that it is finally known that @JussieSmollett is being investigated for paying the Nigerian men to orchestrate the hate attack blamed on Trump supporters, expect lots of people to ask “what would drive someone to do this?” Here’s why (click to listen): pic.twitter.com/82Kn2pk5vi
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) February 17, 2019
“It really illustrates how sick our society is…we’ve come to a place where we really worship victimhood and place more value in it than being heroic, or charitable, or kind,” Ngo said. “And as somebody who happens to be gay, I particularly resent that minorities are being encouraged to be fragile and bitter. I think this country is in the middle of a race panic.”
That panic is exacerbated by legislators and talking news heads who were quick to smear all Trump supporters as racists. Ngo has a handy list of them starting here:
Leaks out of the Chicago PD say that investigators believe @JussieSmollett staged the hoax hate attack with two African men connected to “Empire.” Whatever the end results show, I’d like to chronicle some of the responses at the time the news broke of the alleged brutal attack.
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) February 15, 2019
Oh, and of course celebrities, too.
What’s worse? Even after the story began falling apart, some went so far as to suggest that Smollett’s lie didn’t matter because Trump supporters are racists anyway. Or something. And there’s been very little in the way of apologies from people who blamed an entire group of people for one man’s twisted victim tale.
But the worse yet, of course, is that actual victims are the ones who will suffer for Smollett’s attack on the social fabric of the country. Trump supporters will be fine. But the next person who is maligned or attacked because they’re a minority — women, LGBTQ, race and religious minorities — may find that people will take longer to believe them even if they’re telling the truth. And that’s the real tragedy of this.
So Jussie, why’d ya do it? Because those people deserve an explanation.