There’s something sinister about the fake hate crime that Jussie Smollett perpetrated in 2019.
Last week he was found guilty, so I don’t even have to use the word ‘alleged’. Jussie Smollett, actor, paid two thugs to attack him, pour bleach on him, and put a noose around his neck while shouting pro-trump slogans.
The whole proposition was preposterous, as was artfully pronounced in Tucker Carlson’s sarcastic monologue, ‘As he walked down the street, two white men approached him and began screaming in his face for being black and gay. Of course, you’re not allowed to be either one of those things in the city of Chicago. They called him the N-word, they punched him in the face, they put a chemical onto his body, and then – needless to say – they wrapped a noose around his neck, because, you know, Chicago… “This is MAGA country!” they screamed, about a city that voted more than 83 per cent for Hillary Clinton.’
Yet the American media lapped up the story; they gave long interviews and air-time to Jussie, and they derided anyone who doubted him. Politicians offered condolences, using the whole event as another opportunity to smear President Trump and all his supporters. When it became apparent it was a hoax, officials nevertheless declined to prosecute Smollett, which is why it has taken over two years to finally see justice on what was an open-and-shut case.
What motivated Jussie? We cannot know for sure. It may have been a cold desire to become more famous than he was. It may also be that Jussie saw himself at the vanguard of a righteous movement. That he believes America is indeed full of racist, homophobic, Trump-supporters who really wish that he would die. Who, if they had their way, would bleach the melanin out of him, or hang him on the nearest tree. So his paid re-enactment may have been a lie, technically, but it was also telling a truth. His truth. Maybe even now he believes it was art.
But was it truth? If he had to pay actors to fake the crime – is his concept of America correct? What if it’s not a racist, homophobic country after all? At least three black gay men are caught up in this story so far – one’s a famous actor, the other is a CNN anchor (who allegedly texted him a warning that his story wasn’t being swallowed line and sinker), and the third was one of the two ‘thugs’ he paid $3,500 to attack him. That’s three black, gay men who are quite highly paid for an oppressed class.
We may not know what motivated Jussie, but we do know that he picked that particular scenario for a reason and that the media and Democrat politicians at the highest level were eager to believe it. There are so many who believe that Western Society is evil and systemically racist and nothing will change their mind.
In some places it is true, it has been true, or it is true to some extent. But it’s also easy to use that truth to hold onto a view of the world that is not true, yet cannot be assailed by reason.
It builds up in layers. First, anecdote – we can all think of instances of racism, sexism, and similar – and have generally experienced such ourselves one time or another. Second, confirmation – once looking for it, we can diagnose many negative things that happen to us as instances of prejudice. Third, amplification – having seen it, now the most minor things – a joke, a snub, a hand touching the knee… these may seem minor but they are the window into the deepest reality of your world.
This progression is assisted externally. A relentless ‘narrative’ from the media and teaching through ‘grievance subjects’ at university continually tells everyone that prejudice and discrimination go in one direction – that there are entire categories of people who are the victims of this world. That it is the deepest reality, and that we must fix it.
What layers might come next? Defeatism – the belief that no matter what, your life can never get better, because everything is tuned to oppress you. Or paranoia – over-reacting to every negative thing that happens to you. Tribalism – only being with other people who have the same ‘disadvantage’ as you and hence aren’t a threat. Radicalisation – being overcome with a vision of a future in which the world never discriminates against people like you again. Evangelization – taking every opportunity to tell everyone about the deep truths of the world that we need to change, and expecting ‘solidarity’. Revolution – fighting as a bold warrior for the vision, who will do anything to further the cause of changing the world. Anything.
And yet, the first three layers were flawed. Society will never have zero instances of prejudice; it’s not possible. Supposing it did, there would still be situations where, even without active discrimination, one group will have a disadvantage of some kind. That means that if you are looking for it, you will always be able to find evidence.
Confirmation is a bias – we always notice evidence of the things we already think because we already have the mental pathways for them. Unless we actively challenge our beliefs and subject them to reason, they will harden over time. This means we need to acknowledge that yes, some things in the world make life hard for women, or for black people, etc. Yet other things make life hard for men and white people. They are not equal – but nevertheless it is true – life is hard for everyone in some way or another.
Minor issues are just that – minor. Amplifying them makes a mockery of things that are truly major, like amplifying a joke or even a compliment diminishes the real horror of rape and domestic violence. Those things are different by more than just a degree. Sure, minor incidents reflect a reality about our world, which is indeed a hard place. Sometimes the person who snubbed you was indeed being selfish – he was stuck in his own thoughts and didn’t even think about you, but don’t pretend you don’t occasionally do the same to others. Human interaction is messy. And don’t become so obsessed with what you are denied, that you can’t see what you are given.
Critical Race Theory, or CRT, is just one branch of Critical theory being taught throughout the West. Unfortunately, the name sounds so ‘academic’ that it switches people off. Scott Adams (Dilbert cartoonist and general person-who-thinks-about-stuff), wanting to make the idea more accessible, described it this way: critical theory says that there are only two types of people in this world – losers and jerks (well, he used another word).
If you’re not a jerk, you’re a loser. Every interaction is an interaction between two people of unequal power. Hence, all interactions are an exertion of power. All power is tyranny. Hence, all interactions are tyranny. So, in everything you do you’re either the victim of tyranny or the perpetrator of tyranny – a jerk or a loser.
It’s horrendously flawed thinking.
Firstly, power is not one-dimensional. Yes, men have power over women, generally, but in other ways do not women also have power over men, generally?
Secondly, and more importantly, power is not always tyrannical. Yes, my boss has power over me, but he pays me money. That’s not tyranny. When I was a child, my parents had almost total power over me – but they loved me and they cared for me. That’s not tyranny either.
Thirdly, we all have a power that cannot be taken away. My boss could refuse to pay me, yell at me, even beat me with sticks, yet he could never make me work. My brain thinks, my limbs move, my tongue speaks only of my own volition. Though power may be unequal, that inequality is never absolute – no human is entirely ‘powerless’ and no human is omnipotent. While all our power is, at most, finite, the game cannot be entirely rigged.
I found the Jussie Smollett hoax sinister for two reasons. Firstly, because so many people believed it persistently. Secondly, because somehow he justified what he did. How many other Smolletts are out there? How many people are there who can justify almost anything in the furthering of the cause? Unfortunately, we know – there are many. We see it everywhere, at many different scales and degrees.
The Black Lives Matter organisation, which still supports Jussie Smollett, is a clear example. The BLM riots were not all black people, either – because the underlying issue is not about race or gender or any other category; it’s about the vision of the anointed. It’s ‘people’ who think they have diagnosed this world, and they are so blinded that even while in the act of burning cities they can’t see that they themselves are the clearest manifestation of the problem, not the cure.
I can honestly say that the most severe genuine racism I have ever seen was against white people. Just listen for the word ‘white’ on TV talk shows. See how it is being used. Even worse, listen for ‘white evangelical’. Listen for the word ‘diverse’ in job advertisements and opportunities; straight white men need not apply…
This is not me complaining or being resentful. I have not been the victim of racism or any other ‘–ism’ that I care about. I don’t see myself as a victim at all. I’m not going to do the same thing I am writing against.
Rather, I am mourning this; Martin Luther King’s dream had basically come true. In some places, and to a large extent, we were living in a post-racial land. Fresh Prince of Belair was my favourite TV show and I didn’t even think about the fact that Will Smith is black. America voted in a Black president. I grew up with classmates of all different nationalities, and I simply didn’t care about colour, I really didn’t. I heard accents, I observed culture. I saw disadvantages where they existed – usually for obvious reasons; being a minority is a disadvantage, there’s no denying that. I wasn’t blind to the world, but I didn’t pre-judge it. Not on the basis of race.
Now some people want to reverse that. Their anti-racism has gone full circle; it’s hyper-racism, just as their anti-sexism is hyper-sexism. They want to divide everyone by category and group, and far too many people swallow it. It’s easier to believe you are a victim than a failure. It’s redeeming to believe that you are on the right side, and therefore can do no wrong. It’s invigorating to think that you are creating a better world. It’s natural to believe that your discontent is justified.
This view of the world will never find a solution. It will never promote forgiveness, tolerance, contentment, resilience, self-control, peace-making, or love. As a priori – it does not believe in these things, because it is a philosophy of tyranny. There’s not a single virtue that it knows, it is entirely vice.
Welcome to the post-post-racial world.
Nick Kastelein is a Christian and a conservative who grew up and lives in Adelaide where he works for an engineering consultancy.
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