Jussie Smollett may have poured gasoline on the president’s “fake news” fire.
The entertainment industry was rocked at the end of January when “Empire” star Smollett was the victim of a racially-charged attack. New evidence, however, makes those who quickly jumped to his defense appear incredibly foolish.
Last week, the Chicago Police Department announced that two Nigerian men who reportedly carried out the attack were no longer being treated as suspects, and are now cooperating with police, according to CBS.
Smollett was walking down a Chicago street on Jan. 29 when he was approached by the two men — Ola and Abel Osundairo — who tied a rope around Smollett’s neck, dumped bleach on him and shouted racial and homophobic slurs. The men also allegedly described the area as “MAGA country,” according to multiple outlets.
The circumstances surrounding the attack are suspicious and call into question how the public disseminates information.
One of the main issues with Smollett’s testimony is that he made it seem as if he did not know his attackers, when at least one of the men guest-starred on “Empire.” Some now wonder if the attack was staged because Smollett’s character is being written off “Empire,” CBS reported.
The men are alleging that Smollett paid them to stage the attack.
If true, the perception of Smollett’s attack is guaranteed to dramatically shift. Smollett received an outpouring of support from celebrities like Zendaya, Fergie and John Legend after the incident. Many celebrities used the incident to raise awareness of hate crimes like what Smollett said happened to him.
Smollett even called out non-believers in an interview with Robin Roberts, and said “It’s not necessarily that you don’t believe this is the truth, you don’t want to see the truth.”
Is it Americans who do not want to see the truth, or Smollett himself?
Including a reference to President Donald Trump was undoubtedly risky, stereotypical and will only push Trump supporters and non-supporters further apart. Trump supporters can use this incident as ammunition when talking to people who stereotype the president’s entire base as racist, homophobic and overly aggressive.
The attack also opens a discussion on how quick American society is to believe anything that is reported, before an investigation can be completed. If Americans would have given this situation due process, it may not have been as shocking when information contradicting the “truth” came out.
If Smollett did indeed lie about being attacked and staged a crime for a publicity stunt, the actual hate crimes that go unnoticed by our society are going to suffer — and with that, all of the awareness that Smollett has tried to raise in the last month against prejudice will be gone.