Empire actor Jussie Smollett should be ashamed of himself for masterminding and perpetrating a self-serving hate crime hoax in Chicago. Truth Wins Out hopes that he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. He owes the LGBT community a full apology for undermining our work to prevent and solve legitimate hate crimes. His actions should cost him is career and serve as a warning to others who concoct cockamamie schemes that undercut the stories of real hate crime survivors.
This unfortunate situation, however, is not absent crimes of hate against the LGBT population. The giddy purveyors of hate on the far right who are exploiting this hoax to cast doubt on the testimony of actual hate crime victims, are nearly as vile and morally bereft as Smollett. These forces of injustice are pretending that they stand on the side of the falsely accused. In reality, what they really seek is to create the societal conditions that make it more difficult for the abused to come forward in the service of helping odious hate crime perpetrators evade justice.
The truth is, Smollett’s despicable actions change absolutely nothing. President Trump and his MAGA supporters are responsible for a notable uptick in bigoted rhetoric and hate crimes in this country. Even as right wing extremists do a happy dance over Smollett’s shenanigans, a would-be domestic terrorist in the Coast Guard was arrested with a hit list of notable liberals. He was stockpiling weapons and steroids and authorities say was planning “to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.”
This was reminiscent of the MAGA bomber arrested in Florida who had mailed pipe bombs to political opponents of President Trump. We also can’t forget Trump praising those “very fine” Nazis in Charlottesville. We are, additionally, reminded of the eleven people massacred in a Pittsburgh synagogue, though this perpetrator thought Trump was too moderate. And the list of shocking atrocities goes on, aided and abetted by our nation’s insane gun laws, where any whacko with grievances can arm to the teeth and seek bloody vengeance.
The FBI says that hate crimes increased 17 percent, rising for the third consecutive year. The New York Times reports that of the more than 7,100 hate crimes reported, nearly three out of five were motivated by race and ethnicity. Religion and sexual orientation were the other two primary factors.
In 2017, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs recorded reports of 52 hate violence related homicides of LGBTQ people, the highest single incident number ever recorded by NCAVP. This number represents an 86% increase in single incident reports from 2016.
Given this heartbreaking reality, right wing commentators ought to show restraint and begin examining and policing their own toxic behavior that leads to hate crimes, rather than celebrating the unmasking of one lone, disturbed schmuck who exploited legitimate concerns over rising hate crime statistics. While Jussie Smollett trafficked in fake news, the tragic news of other hate crime victims is all too real.