How America’s most important movements are shooting themselves in the foot

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How America’s most important movements are shooting themselves in the foot

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In case you haven’t heard, “Empire” star Jussie Smollett was accused of filing a false police report, in which he told Chicago police that he was attacked while walking home alone at 2 A.M. on Jan. 29. According to Smollett, two masked white men yelling racist, homophobic slurs and claiming “this is a MAGA country” confronted him, doused him in bleach and put a noose around his neck. Chicago police allege that Smollett actually hired his attackers (who, by the way, were black, not white) and told them what to do and say. Assistant State’s Attorney Risa Lanier claims Smollett even bought the clothes they were wearing.

 

In a press conference about the case, Chicago PD Superintendent Eddie Johnson spoke the truest words: “Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career. I’m left hanging my head and asking why.”

 

Well, integrity in our fair country has been at a pathetic low for so long. It’s not that hard to guess why.

 

Smollett was going to be written out of “Empire,” according to TMZ. Add seven, carry the two—he was trying to get the sympathy so he wouldn’t lose his job.

 

The fights against racism and homophobia are some of the most important civil rights battles facing modern America, and they’ve made great strides in the past few years. From The Hate U Give and Love, Simon to diversity clubs and pride parades, activists across the country are furthering their causes with striking success. Progress is happening; change is here and now.

 

And yet, as the volume of advocates rises, so does that of people like Jussie Smollett. All too often, devious opportunists take advantage of the progress minorities have gained to advance their own agendas, and end up undermining important movements in the process. With every stride made, we seem to take a step back.

 

As disgusting as I find Smollett and his (“alleged”) crime, he’s not the only one of his kind. In doing research for his book “Hate Crime Hoax,” USA Today contributor Wilfred Reilly found evidence of 409 fake hate crimes; fakehatecrimes.org lists 348, and researcher Laird Wilcox compiled 300 more. From staged attacks to false allegations to burning down their own house, the Smolletts of the world will stop at nothing to get what they want.

 

Though these cases account for only a small percent of all reported hate crimes, their effect is downright lethal. With each conspiracy unveiled, the credibility of actual hate crime victims plummets, and today their integrity is called into question more than ever before.

 

Consider how we treat alleged victims of rape. So many women have been sexually abused and barely lived to tell of it, but because of the few recent fake allegations, many of them suffer in silence out of fear. Really think about that. The culture of doubt that Smollett and his comrades created has moved us to intimidate rape victims into silence.

 

So what does this mean for activism? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself since the Smollett scandal broke. How do we effectively campaign for support when abusers of such support always get more publicity?

 

Is there even a way?