Victimhood, victimhood culture, and an eagerness to believe — none of it is doing this country any good.
One weekend when I was around twelve my father and I went to lunch with a man he was working with. On the way to lunch, he told me the man had been a Navy fighter pilot in World War II. That made me giddy with excitement; by twelve I was already a WWII history fanatic, could identify almost every aircraft from the war, and my dream was to be a fighter pilot. A conversation with a real fighter pilot was a big deal for me.
Implausible stories – a hard lesson learned
As soon as we sat down at the table I asked the man what he’d flown. He said he’d been an F6F Hellcat pilot, had once crashed on the deck of his carrier and broken his plane in half, and the footage of his crash was very famous. I knew exactly what footage he was referring to1, had seen it many times, and thought it was strange that he just happened to be that very pilot. Then I asked how many kills he had.
“Fifty,” he said.
That didn’t make sense. America’s top ace, Richard I. Bong, shot down forty2 before dying in a crash. “But I thought Richard Bong had the record at forty,” I said.
“He was Air Force,” the man quickly replied. “I was Navy.”
That didn’t make sense either; the Air Force wasn’t created until after World War II. I remember thinking about saying that but decided against it. I stopped asking questions and let the man and my father talk business. On the way home I told my father about my doubts, and he seemed a little torn. A few weeks later the man took payment for some work he was supposed to do and disappeared with it.
That was a hard lesson for me. I grew up hearing about my grandparents’ generation and their wartime service: my great uncle Leo’s disappearance in the Bataan Death March, great uncle Jesse’s experiences as a paratrooper in Europe, great uncle Pete’s confirmed kill on Okinawa, great uncle Richard’s long recovery from the still-unknown trauma he endured as a Marine in Korea. The service and sacrifice of the Greatest Generation was and still is, sacred to me. But that lying, thieving businessman taught me nothing is so sacred it can’t be cynically exploited for profit.
Which, of course, leads us to Jussie Smollett.
You know, the guy who recently did America a huge favor.
Jussie Smollet’s public service to us all
When I heard Smollett’s “hate crime” accusation, I knew it was implausibly stupid. The chances of two racist gay-bashers randomly encountering and recognizing a little-known actor from a show the vast majority of conservative America doesn’t watch, on a sub-freezing early morning during a polar vortex, who just happened to have bleach and a noose and yelled “This is MAGA country!” in the most staunchly democrat city in America, in one of the most heavily camera-surveilled cities in the world, were incredibly slim.
As more details emerged we learned that:
• all but 55 seconds of Smollett’s walk were on video, and
• the alleged assault involved tying a rope around his neck (which is really, really hard to do to a grown man fighting back), and
• he walked into his apartment building right after this alleged 55-second assault still carrying his Subway sandwich, and
• passed by security without saying a word, and had only a small scratch on his face from the “brutal assault.”
At that point I was 99% sure the entire report was a fraud. Not exaggerated, not misreported, but a complete fraud. I also strongly suspected that Smollett’s view of Trump supporters was such a caricature, and every single one of Smollett’s friends and relatives repeated the same caricature right back to him, that he really thought a depiction of two wandering white racist MAGA-screaming gay-bashers with bleach and a noose would be totally believable.
Victimhood – what if the supply of racism doesn’t meet the demand?
But no matter how ridiculous the accusation was, I knew much of America would believe it. Smollett was mostly right; despite the implausibility of his accusation, many people bought it. We’re on a bad roll for buying fake hate crime accusations lately.
In the recent past, we’ve had the fake racist rape accusation by a black woman against the Texas state trooper who arrested her for DWI, which was swallowed without question by Shaun King and civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, and the false accusations against the Covington Catholic schoolboys that pretty much every left-wing celebrity in America (which is pretty much every celebrity in America) not just bought but ran a marathon with.
On the not-quite-a-hoax-but-close-enough front, we had this the Houston murder of a 7-year-old black girl (which had “no rationale other than hate” and proved “there are no days off from being black”) by an unknown white man, which turned out to have been committed by two black gang members.4 Shaun King and Lee Merritt dove headfirst into that one too, while simultaneously ignoring the horrible, brutal stabbing and beating murders of three black children5 by a black man in the same area the same week.
If we go back a little further, we have the fake Rolling Stone and Duke University rape accusations and the multiple fake hate crimes reported after Trump’s election, including the infamous case of the Muslim woman whose hijab was allegedly ripped off her head6 by evil Trump supporters, the swastikas spray painted by racist Trumpers, which turned out to have been spray painted by the “victims” themselves, and some7 black churches burned down by church members who blamed Trump supporters.8
The fact is, we have literally hundreds of fake hate crimes, which for some reason always seem to be believed without question by many journalists and celebrities, who always seem shocked when they’re revealed as hoaxes.
Profiting from a victimhood culture and a need to have outrage
Now that Smollett has been formally charged with making a false report, there seems to be “confusion” about why he lied. So I’ll clear that up for everyone:
He lied because he stood to benefit from the lie.
And contrary to popular belief, there is no class of people so holy they never lie, and no class of crime so sacred that nobody would ever lie about it. Minorities, women and other “marginalized” people can lie just as well as anyone else. Claims of having suffered the worst crimes, even racist and/or sexual assaults, shouldn’t automatically be believed, because some people lie about those too.
Shouldn’t we know this by now?
The painful lesson I learned about Stolen Valor in my childhood has been reinforced many, many times in adulthood. Before I met the fake fighter pilot it would have been unthinkable to me that anyone would be so horrible as to lie about WWII heroism at all, much less lie to a fawning little kid. Now I know it happens all the freaking time. Literally millions of people tell blatant, and often blatantly stupid, lies about military service and, more often, military victimhood; it’s gotten so bad that some VA psychiatrists estimate 75% of their PTSD patients are lying.
In one of the worst Stolen Valor cases I know of, a former Marine lied about being wounded and having PTSD from Iraq. Then after one of his platoon mates who’d been horribly wounded in Iraq committed suicide back home, the liar amended his story to claim he’d been traumatized while saving the horribly-wounded Marine’s life on the battlefield. Of course, an investigation showed he was a complete fraud9 who hadn’t been wounded or directly involved in the real wounded Marine’s IED strike.
Why did he tell those lies? Because they got him free money from the VA. They got him a free house. They turned him into a hero, instead of a regular guy who spent only a few weeks in Iraq before being sent home with a minor non-combat medical issue.
After 9/11, when America was both reeling from the attack and united in support of the victims and their families, a woman claimed to have been in one of the towers when it was hit. She told a harrowing, heart-rending tale of suffering and survival. She joined an organization of 9/11 survivors, and eventually became their leader. She led NYC Mayor Giuliani and New York Governor Pataki on a tour of Ground Zero. When the parents of a young man who’d disappeared in the collapse contacted her, she told them she’d met him and laid out a moving story of how he saved her life in the chaotic immediate aftermath of the attack.
And she made every last bit of it up.10
She was nowhere near the Twin Towers on 9/11. Given the choice between being a rather unattractive nobody or a struggling-yet-determined victim of the worst terrorist attack in American history, she chose victimhood and the supposed nobility that title would bestow on her.
Then there’s the hallowed and untouchable, never-to-be-questioned, lethal third rail of modern American culture: sexual assault claims. I know I’m supposed to #BelieveWomen, but unfortunately, as a cop, I’ve dealt with several false rape claims. One was from a woman who ran from a stolen car with a male driver after a pursuit, and when she realized she couldn’t get away and the male was abandoning her, stopped and shrieked “I’ve been raped!” Another was a woman who claimed she’d been drugged at a club, then raped while she was unconscious. She also claimed her car had been stolen. The wrecked car was found shortly afterward, not far from the club. Later we found out she was laughingly bragging to friends, “I wrecked my car driving drunk, and all I had to do to get away with it was tell the cops I’d been raped.” Even Lena Dunham, the repulsive uber-feminist who wishes she’d had an abortion, says 3% of rape accusations are false.
Lies and victimhood — they’re a proven, profitable, tactic
So why did Smollett lie? He thought he’d be a hero. He’d suddenly be a household name. He’d get movie roles from sympathetic directors. His music career would take off. He’d be loved for his “bravery.”
It almost worked; his mere accusation, as transparently stupid as it was, drew shrieks of outrage and support from multiple celebrities and elected representatives. Suddenly, everyone loved and sympathized with the guy most of us had never heard of.
Actress Ellen Page broke down in tears as she praised Smollett’s heroism and blamed Trump and Pence for the attack. Admiring fans cheered as Smollett tearily told them he “fought the fuck back” against racist, homophobic caricatures of Trump supporters. Presidential candidates Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, as if on cue, tweeted about his “attempted modern-day lynching.”
Instead of being a secondary character in a successful but not relatively minor show, Smollett was suddenly poised to become the incredibly brave gay black victim who not only sings and acts but fought off two of the most hated people in America.
Now that we know some people, even those supposedly “sanctified by oppression,” will lie about anything, do we think Cory Booker, Sean King, Kamala Harris, Ellen Page, Kathy Griffin, GQ Magazine, and dozens of others won’t immediately believe the next outrageous, unbelievable hate crime accusation? Or are they so gullible that they’ll buy any stupid story that confirms their unalterable bias?
To tell you the truth, I’m not sure.
When I first started writing this, I would have bet that the next fake hate crime report would gather just as much knee-jerk sympathy and acceptance as the last one. I would have argued that gullibility wasn’t really the issue anyway; what we’re really seeing are the twisted mental gymnastics of people who desperately want to believe accusations like Smollett’s are true. I would have said they’re so invested in the oppressor/victim dynamic that they literally hate the suggestion that most Americans, even white Americans, are, you know, pretty good people who truly care about their fellow citizens. I would have said that the desperate “I need this to be real” plea from the executive assistant to the Washington Post Editorial Board, literally a preference for the existence of two near-homicidal anti-gay Trump-loving MAGA Chicago racists over the existence of one narcissistic liar, was evidence that nothing will change. I would have said that the bulk of the so-called elites have so much hatred for Trump and his supporters, and even people like me who aren’t Trump supporters but don’t think he’s Literally Hitler, that they don’t care whether any specific hate crime accusation is true or not (since, after all, they just know that countless hate crimes occur every single day all over America).
I would have argued that the journalistic class can’t be budged from their bedrock belief in the superiority of leftist thought over knuckle-dragging conservatism, and that when CNN’s Brooke Baldwin sighed and mumbled “This is America in 2019” in disgust as she reported the initial Smollett accusation, she was speaking for almost all journalists nationwide. I would have said GQ Magazine’s assertion as fact that “The Racist, Homophobic Attack on Jussie Smollett Is Far-Right America’s Endgame” actually reveals the left’s endgame: they want to demonize any of us, all of us, who aren’t in complete lockstep with their progressive cult.
Victimhood and a lack of dubiety — not as bad as it seems
Guys, I gotta say, I don’t think the situation is that bad. At least, there are reasons to be hopeful. Because Jussie did us a solid and proved beyond doubt that nobody should be automatically believed.
Once you get past the initial suspicion of the press, you’ll discover that local Chicago reporters actually did a great job of reporting the many holes in Smollett’s accusation. You’ll find that even CNN, which usually seems so liberal and biased that it never reports anything objective, referred to the story as an “alleged hate crime” from the start and even hosted a panel criticizing the media’s lack of skepticism13 several days before Smollett’s story was officially declared a hoax. You’ll see that many liberal journalists and news outlets have been reporting every detail of Smollett’s crumbling narrative, pointing out the flaws and inconsistencies, and flashing back to Smollett’s incredulous “Who the fuck would make up something like this?” comment to Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts. You’ll see that Al Sharpton, who makes his living off racial grievances, has called for Smollett’s prosecution.14 You’ll see that GQ Magazine published a mealy-mouthed, halfhearted retraction15 of their pathetically stupid response to Smollett’s claims, but a retraction nonetheless.
Going back a little further, you’ll find that Shaun King – a guy I despise for his unending racial incitement and grievance mongering – actually received and forwarded the tip that led to the arrest16 of the black men who killed the little black girl in Houston, and that civil rights attorney Lee Merritt made a good-faith effort17 to clear the name of the white Texas State Trooper falsely accused of racist rape.
Maybe some people have finally learned a difficult but valuable lesson. They got burned, bad, and don’t want to get burned again.
The people I listed above aren’t stupid, and they don’t like looking stupid. Yes, they’re currently falling all over each other trying to proclaim “This won’t make me stop believing victims!” the loudest, and reminding everyone that hate crimes have spiked under Trump — though they do so without mentioning that there’s been a spike in hate crime reports, not necessarily confirmed incidents and that some of those hate crimes have been by minorities against whites.18
Smollett did us a solid.
But they’re also facing that fact that Jussie Smollett flat-out lied, and that in reality, despite America’s supposedly rampant racism and homophobia, Smollett had actually done pretty damn well until he decided to screw everything up. It’s hard to argue that gay-bashing racist Trumpers are hunting down oppressed gay black people when the gay black person in question is a highly-successful millionaire and his evil white racist persecutors don’t exist.
Which means that maybe, just maybe, America isn’t the racist hellhole some people desperately want it to be. Maybe the public at large is actually starting to realize that. And we can all thank Jussie Smollett and his knee-jerk believers for maybe – maybe – making Americans realize that no accusation should ever be blindly accepted.
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@ Terry Ruddy: you are using strawmen arguments and red herrings.
In fact every human alive is the descendant of slaves and the descendant of enslavers. Every one of us the descendant of kings/chieftains and of peons, every one of us the descendants land thieving conquerors and every one us the descendant of the disposed.
And victimhood issue did get a reasoned argument here , you just don’t like reason or logic.
When the US Ponzi economy collapses, the riots break out, the concentration camps open, Civil War 2.0 starts, and WWIII begins will you say that you tried to warn people of the dangers of debt, war, and tyranny or will you say that you just sat there and did nothing?
Everyone is born for a reason.
I am a former Marine and have 33 years experience in law enforcement. This story smelled like two-week-old fish from the jump. The “usual suspects” cranked up, as expected and gave their usual
stirling performances. But I will never EVER forget the clip of Kamala standing on camera with her jaw
hanging, looking around for someone…anyone…to rescue her from the reporter! Priceless!
Yup, typical holly weirdo… needs to get flushed. What a tool, glad he got exposed, and love to see all the people who get on his bandwagon and get all #butthurt… but let bubba have fun with him, but should get a few felonies and be labeled a hate crime scam artist for life then.
I know this won’t get much love here and I’m fine with that. What Mr. Smollett did was beyond terrible because now so many “fine people” have cover for the debate that hate hasn’t been a defining characteristic of race here even before we became a country. I get to read if America isn’t like Nazi Germany then African-Americans can’t claim to be truly repressed. Whatever. If you say skepticism is a positive offshoot of this, I’m really good with that. I teach government and the digital age we live in can provide more realistic fiction faster than it can be debunked. I only hope my students crow up with very healthy senses of doubt at first glance and the willingness to dig. But I’m not positive all the arguments used here would survive a freshman course in logic. Just the attempt to make an Anne Coulter comparison rises beyond the absurd, and I know to some extent it was meant to, but not for the reasons chosen. Victimhood is a topic worth debating, I can’t imagine it gets anything like a reasoned argument here though. Sorry – we have had victims here as long as we’ve had people. Should I ask all the people here if there’s still discrimination in America? Considering the demographics, what response should I expect?
In a really oppressive country, oppressed minorities don’t need to fake hate crimes, because they’re, you know, oppressed. Were Jewish folks in Nazi Germany faking hate crimes? And were they complaining to the Gestapo and getting lots of sympathy?
As you say, the prevalence of fake hate crimes, and the way they are treated (until exposed) proves exactly the opposite of what the perpetrators want to demonstrate.
You’re a fine writer Mr Hernandez…I always enjoy your work.