Jussie Smollett: He’s Angry People Don’t Believe Trump Supporters Attacked Him. But Should They?
Stunning update: An actor who worked on Empire ID'd as one of the men on surveillance tape. Smollett brought in for further questioning.
About ten years ago, I nearly ran over Harrison Ford. He stepped into the crosswalk right as I was approaching a corner on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. I stared at the man as he crossed a few feet from my bumper on a fine Southern California afternoon.
One of the most famous, recognizable celebrities on the planet. And he was halfway across the street before I recognized Han Solo, Indiana Jones, President James Marshall, and the innocent fugitive Dr. Richard Kimball.
On my wife’s IMDB page, there’s a nice picture of her on the set of Drifter: Henry Lee Lucas with a dirty, bearded, yet still annoyingly handsome man. Do you recognize him? How long would you have to stare at the picture to recognize actor-turned-conservative political candidate Antonio Sabato, Jr.?
While we were waiting for the start of Tropic Thunder, a man walked up the aisle straight at us. “Hey, that looks like Gary Sinise. Is it Gary Sinise? I can’t tell.” The man sat town two rows in front of us. It wasn’t until he let out this loud cackle during a scene in the film that spoofed his own film Forrest Gump that we knew. “That’s Gary Sinise!”
Which gets us to Empire actor Jussie Smollett.
Jussie Smollett’s Claim
Jussie Smollett claims he was accosted in Chicago by two men shouting “Aren’t you that f****t from Empire?,” who proceeded to beat him up. They put a white rope around his neck and poured bleach on him, he says, while hurling the n-word and saying “This is MAGA Country!”
Chicago police still believe at this point that Smollett was assaulted, at least in some fashion. Whoever attacked him deserves to be caught, prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law. But not all believe his story.
In an interview airing Thursday on Good Morning America, Smollett says he is “p***ed off” people don’t believe his account. “At first it was the thing of like, listen, if I tell the truth then that’s it because it’s the truth. Then it became a thing of, like, how can you doubt that? How can you not believe that?”
How can anybody doubt? (I mean, aside from the regular stories of people claiming a Trump-connected hate crime only to either admit they were lying or the perpetrator being some liberal activist.) Well, doubting in this case is hardly irrational.
Consider the Narrative
For Smollett’s narrative about being assaulted by MAGA types to be true:
- The bad guys had to be out at 2 a.m. … in minus 17 degree temperatures.
- They had to be wandering the same street as Smollett.
- They had to cross paths with him, who had only run out, he says, to get a quick sandwich at a 24-hour Subway.
- Despite Smollett being bundled up against the bitter cold, and not being anywhere you’d expect to see a Hollywood celebrity, let alone one out and about at 2 a.m., they recognized the actor. (That, as suggested above, is very suspicious to me.)
- They also recognized Smollett from the show Empire … not exactly a huge hit with the MAGA demographic. And definitely not Must See TV for racists.
- They also had to know that Smollet was, like his character, gay. (How many people are up on the personal lives of stars of even shows they like? That, too, is odd. I mean, he’s not even a lead.)
- They’d have to be carrying around rope. And carrying bleach in temperatures where bleach would freeze.
- If the Trump-hater narrative is true, the attackers would have to either a) be one of the few Trump supporters in an extremely liberal neighborhood. As a local who doubts Smollett says, “Half the people are gay and the other half are black.” OR b) They traveled in -17 degree weather in the middle of the night to an unfriendly neighborhood looking for trouble on the off chance a suitable target was out in the cold.
- They’d have to manage to attack Smollett in the small 60 second window of time not caught by surveillance cameras.
- They’d have to not be spotted fleeing the scene by the numerous cameras in the area.
Further, the public was told the attack broke one of Smollett’s ribs. That turned out to be untrue. And Chicago police say the phone records he handed over are “limited and redacted” and “insufficient for a criminal investigation.” His manager Brandon Z. Moore and Smollett say they were talking at the time of the attack. Yet Moore also refused to turn over his phone.
Smollett waited to call police. If you’re Smollet’s manager and you just heard your client assaulted, aren’t you insisting he call 911 immediately? If not call in the calvary yourself?
Doubts Don’t Mean Dismissal
So, all due respect to Smollett, how can you not doubt what he’s saying? At least a little. Trump-supporting racists recognized him then? When I didn’t even recognize Harrison Ford a few feet in front of me midday in L.A.?
But doubt does not mean dismissal. Might well be monstrous Empire-watching racists wandering the streets of Chicago in sub-zero weather. Weirder things have happened. Hate leads to irrational acts and these are insane times. And yeah, there are racists out there.
However, I can also spin a bunch of scenarios whereby this is simply a hoax, a simple assault turned into a political statement — even a piece of anti-Trump or anti-racism or anti-homophobic performance art.
I can’t put that past anyone embedded in hate-Trump Hollywood, especially when even kids from Kentucky are figuratively spit on by celebrities just for wearing MAGA hats. When award winners are saying “F Trump” more than they thank their agents. When performers dream of severed heads and assassination. Madonna wants to blow up the White House. Blowing up a random assault seems tame.
Which gets to another possibility. Smollett could have been attacked precisely as he said he was. And it still wouldn’t mean a Trump supporter was involved.
Chicago is one of the cities where Hillary Clinton-funded operatives, trained to instigate violence, caused a riot at a Trump campaign event. The goal? Paint Trump and his supporters as violent.
What Better Way
What better way for someone local who knew Smollett and would recognize him from the neighborhood to create a crime that could be pinned on Trump supporters? Stake Smollett out and take him down. He hates Trump, they’d rationalize. He’d take one for the team. It’d be national news, a national scandal. Deplorables would get what they deserve. (And if the suspects lived right there, it’d be easier to explain their apparent vanishing into thin air.)
It’s Chicago. Alinski-central. Would you be that surprised?
Again, no one knows the truth. Except the guilty. Whoever they are, I pray they will be exposed and prosecuted. And I pray for a complete emotional and physical healing for Smollett.
Regardless of what happened that bitter night, Smollett needs healing. Whether he suffered a heinous hate crime or it’s a horrible hoax, let us all be praying for our bitterly divided nation, and on this Valentine’s Day a melting of frozen hearts.
UPDATE: A stunning turn of events today. Chicago police have identified the two “persons of interest” in the Smollett case. Men Smollett is on record as saying he believes they were the ones involved in the attack on him. Law enforcement sources tell TMZ they believe the two people were indeed at the scene. Now the kicker: At least of the men is an actor who appeared on Empire. He was picked up by Chicago police after arriving at O’Hare last night. WGN reports both men are African-American. Smollett himself was brought in by police Thursday morning for further questioning. You can’t write this stuff.