Actor Jussie Smollett was arrested for maliciously orchestrating a staged hate crime on Thursday that involved two of his colleagues wearing masks and shouting, “this is MAGA country.”
According to Smollett’s alleged false claims, the men were yelling racial and homophobic slurs during the fake attack. By portraying this false claim in this way, Smollett was able to garner sympathy from the liberal community at large, including actors, politicians and other political institutions.
By intentionally leading the country astray for personal gain, Smollett has, unfortunately, cast doubt on all future hate crimes reported in the eyes of many Americans.
Hate crimes of this sort do not always get this level of national media and the fact that this one has been manufactured has done a great disservice to all marginalized communities.
Fox News, in particular, has been covering the Smollett story non-stop because it buys into their narrative that the mainstream media reports biased left-leaning news.
They regularly reported on that story while conveniently forgetting to cover stories like the white supremacist terrorist that worked for the Coast Guard. A story that, from the New York Times, outlines how the terrorist allegedly plotted to murder journalists as well as democratic politicians in local spots in Washington this past week.
Smollett’s false claims happened to coincide in a time in our history in which hate crimes are on the rise. Crimes that are primarily perpetuated by the far-right.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there were an estimated 40 people killed in North America in right-wing terrorist attacks in 2018 a rise from 36 people killed the previous year.
One example of a false claim doesn’t disprove that there is a problem with hate crimes in this country.
It is unfortunate that this lie perpetuated by a clear egotist has garnered the amount of media attention it did, but we should not perceive the story to be anything other than anecdotal. No one should question the real plight of marginalised communities because of the misdeeds of one individual.
Media outlets like Fox News and other conservative outlets need to stop trying to win political points with this story and focus on the real danger of right-wing terrorists.
Jared Sellick is a junior majoring in political science.