Did you hear the one about actor Jussie Smollett faking his own Chicago wilding? Of course you have. Reports of the disgraced Empire star’s cynical, public resource wasting efforts to raise his own profile and television salary have been utterly ubiquitous. This column has nothing new to add on that subject, except to say that Smollett richly deserves the pop cultural banishment that’s coming his way.
It’s hard enough to get authorities to treat hate crimes with the urgency they deserve, and much more challenging when the victim is a person of color. The anger directed at Smollett by the LGTBQ and African-American communities is well-founded, an argument made more eloquently by Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson earlier this week.
Pundits and news outlets across the political spectrum have been feasting on the story. It’s just so scandalous. The stampede to the fainting couch from the right has been particularly deafening. Take this quote from Fox News’ obvious expert on intersectionality, Buck Sexton:
“The Democrats seized on this obvious hoax as an opportunity to defame millions of Trump supporters across the country. These cynical victimologists tried to weaponize shame on national TV – but wound up shaming themselves in the process.”
Buck, I think Trump supporters, say those at the President’s Third Reich rallies, are doing an effective job of defaming themselves without any help from the left. And your Dear Leader has built his own cottage industry in weaponized shame.
All the talk about Smollett’s obvious patheticness as a human being has drowned out the necessary coverage and social urgency that should be placed instead on the chilling case of a homegrown terrorist. Per recent court filings, former Maryland Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Paul Hasson had advanced plans “to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.”
The New York Times reported that the deranged Hasson’s hit list included some very high-profile media and legislative targets:
“In the last month, prosecutors said, the lieutenant used his work computer to draw up a list of prominent figures he called ‘traitors’ and wanted to kill, including many well-known anchors and hosts on the CNN and MSNBC news networks and a number of Democratic elected officials. The list included, among others, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Maxine Waters, Senator Richard Blumenthal, whom he referred to as ‘Sen blumen jew,’ and many of the senators running for president in 2020.”
Hasson had a stock pile of weapons, which combined with his military training, overtly angry racism and perverted sense of religious fervor, should have triggered an alarmed public outcry. Non-stop media coverage. Republican lawmakers explicitly and frequently condemning the terrorist, and all other budding killers who might take inspiration from this piece of human garbage. Instead? As the Daily Beast’s Adam Howard wrote this week, the story has been all but buried by water carriers on the right:
“Where is the conservative outrage for the very real acts of violence being perpetrated in their name? The same day that Smollett’s story began to unravel and his eventual arrest became inevitable, Christopher Paul Hasson, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard and a white supremacist with delusions of mass-murdering liberals both known (“Poca Warren” was one his choice descriptors) and unknown, ostensibly in the hopes of creating his own ethnically-cleansed utopia, was captured…
Coincidentally, Donald Trump has still not tweeted about the Coast Guard terrorist, but he’s fired off one Smollett tweet and counting.”
There’s no coincidence about it, Mr. Howard. Hasson is a 49 year-old white man, therefore he was probably “economically insecure,” intimidated by globalization and unsure how to approach women in the aftermath of the #MeToo movement. The world has browned before his very eyes. If only Democrats could figure out a better narrative, a more approachable way to speak to voters like Hasson, well then maybe we could all live more peacefully.
It’s not an important story. Hasson was stopped before he hurt anyone, right? It would be journalistic malpractice if the case were used to foster a real public discussion about systemic racism, the proliferation of easy weapons within our borders and the violence-inciting rhetoric vomited up by the President of the United States on the hour. Make it go away and focus on the GAY BLACK MAN guilty of fraud and manipulation. An easy target made that much richer by his own shameful behavior.
Time has found a weird way of speeding up in the Trump era. The calumny and disgrace comes at us in chunks of corrosion so quickly and damaging to our country and culture, we can hardly keep up. A week of rapid-fire scandal feels like a lifetime. And in short order, we’ll forget about Jussie Smollett as we should. His story is not part of a larger epidemic. It’s the one-off curiosity of a selfish, lying fame seeker.
Hasson’s story however, is bigger than one white man larded up with weapons and self-righteous anger. His arrest marks the fifth domestic terrorist plot interrupted during the Trump administration. Two years, five Caucasian male ISIS and Nazi sympathizers empowered by the Racist-in-Chief. That should be the headline.