Tag Archives: Jussie Smollett

Say his name: Ahmaud Arbery was lynched in Georgia in February

Ahmaud Arbery, 25 years old, was lynched in Georgia in February, and we might never have heard of his lynching if some video footage of it had not emerged.

I don’t believe in using inflammatory racial language, such as the word “lynching,” lightly.

For example, in late January 2019 my U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris referred to the then-fresh Jussie Smollett case as “an attempted modern-day lynching.” She might have waited a bit before she made that proclamation, which very apparently turned out to be very much not the case.

There is no other word that I can think of, though, for what happened to Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old black man who was shot down in the street in broad daylight by a white man and his white son in Brunswick, Georgia, on February 23, which we apparently are hearing about now only because some video taken by a witness of the incident has emerged.

It is not clear to me which one or if both of the men arrested for the crime, 64-year-old Gregory McMichael and his 34-year-old son Travis McMichael, shot and killed Arbery, but their story, even if true, is bullshit.

The McMichaels’ story is that they believed that Arbery was the suspect in neighborhood burglaries. Therefore, they pursued him, with firearms in their possession.

How the fuck does this story exculpate them in any way?

Even if Arbery were indeed a neighborhood burglar — it is believed that he was simply jogging in the neighborhood, not running away because he was a criminal — you don’t get to chase down someone you believe committed or might have committed a crime (or was about to commit a crime or might do so in the future) and then execute him or her on the fucking spot. You call the fucking police.

Because Arbery was black and very apparently unarmed and had not threatened anyone with any harm, and because he was killed by vigilantes who did not kill him in anything remotely like self-defense, he was killed primary because of his race — he was, in a word, lynched.

This is what happened in the “good old days” in the South (and elsewhere within the U.S., but mostly in the South): Whites would accuse a black person, usually a male, of some crime, and then apprehend and publicly kill him. Maybe the individual had committed a crime or not; that didn’t matter. What mattered most was that the victim was black.

Ahmaud Arbery was not hanged from a tree while the white denizens of the Georgia neighborhood enjoyed the display as a form of entertainment, as they did back in the day.

But Arbery was lynched, regardless.

Kamala Harris had it wrong in the Smollett case, but I guess that I stand corrected on her attempt to get federal anti-lynching legislation passed. She started this effort, with Cory Booker and Tim Scott, back in 2018, with the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, and while at the time that struck me as a purely political, identity-politics move — a “solution” looking for a problem that no longer even existed — I am sad to apparently have to stand corrected.

Wikipedia describes the anti-lynching act as “a proposed bill that would classify lynching, defined as bodily injury on the basis of perceived race, color, religion or nationality, a federal hate crime in the United States. The bill, largely symbolic, aims to recognize and apologize for historical governmental failures to prevent lynching in the U.S.”

Yes, but apparently it’s not only symbolic anymore.

Wikipedia also notes that “On February 26, 2020, the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act, a revised version of the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 410-4.” (This was just three days after the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.)

To my knowledge, this federal anti-lynching legislation remains unpassed by the Senate and not signed into law by the “president.”

This federal law needs to be enacted, and we could call it the Ahmaud Arbery Anti-Lynching Act just as well.

And while I’m generally opposed to the death penalty, I can’t say that the likes of Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael deserve to still draw breath.

The death penalty is an egregious penalty, but lynching — actual lynching, not Jussie Smollett-style “lynching” — is an egregious crime that calls for an egregious punishment.

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My take: Jussie Smollett made it all up

goodmorningsmollett1

Actor Jussie Smollett cried during his first television interview after allegedly having been the victim of a hate crime on January 29. Meh. He very most likely was crying wolf. (He appears to me to be acting — fairly poorly — in that interview, by the way.)

I’ve been quiet on the alleged hate crime against TV show “Empire” star Jussie Smollett on January 29 in Chicago.

My inclination is to believe the victim, or at least to give the alleged victim the benefit of the doubt, anyway, but Smollett’s story was a bit over the top from the get-go: two male attackers, he claimed, poured bleach on him and put a noose around his neck and yelled, “This is MAGA country!” as well as racist and homophobic slurs.

Smollett initially reported that his attackers wore ski masks, but presumably they were white, since allegedly they had perpetrated a race-based hate crime against him and yelled “This is MAGA country!” (Indeed, in the TV interview mentioned above, by elimination he pretty much claims that his attackers were indeed white, which he apparently could see even though they were wearing ski masks.)

The details of the alleged hate crime against Smollett and its subsequent investigation are convoluted and go back and forth, with ample yes-but-no-but-no-but-yes. (You can read them here and here and in many other places on the Internet.) I won’t rehash all of them here.

But CNN reports today:

Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation tell CNN that Chicago Police believe actor Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate an assault on him that he reported late last month.

The men, who are brothers, were arrested Wednesday but released without charges Friday after Chicago police cited the discovery of “new evidence.

“The sources told CNN the two men are now cooperating fully with law enforcement.

Smollett told authorities he was attacked early January 29 by two men who were “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs.” He said one attacker put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him.

The sources told CNN there are records that show the two brothers purchased the rope found around Smollett’s neck at a hardware store in Chicago.

CNN’s attempts Saturday to reach both Smollett’s representative and attorney were unsuccessful.

Smollett identifies as gay and since 2015 has played the gay character of Jamal on the Fox TV drama “Empire.”

According to Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, the actor told detectives he was attacked by two men near the lower entrance of a Loews hotel in Chicago. Police were told the two men yelled “‘Empire’ fa***t” and “‘Empire’ n***er'” while striking him.

The day after the incident, police released surveillance images that showed two silhouetted individuals walking down a sidewalk, and police said they were wanted for questioning.

The two men were arrested Wednesday. Police on Friday said the men were being viewed as “potential suspects” and that detectives had “probable cause that they may have been involved in an alleged crime.” [Note that that crime was not specified…]

But by Friday night they had been released, Guglielmi said, “due to new evidence as a result of today’s investigations.”

“And detectives have additional investigative work to complete,” he added.

One of the men has appeared on “Empire,” Guglielmi said. A police source also told CNN on Friday night that the men had a previous affiliation with Smollett, but did not provide additional details. …

It was reported that Smollett might have made up the attack because he feared that he was about to be written out of “Empire” — and presumably, the show-runners then would be hesitant to do so after he’d been attacked in a hate crime — but the show-runners have denied that Smollett’s role ever was in jeopardy. (Of course, for public relations reasons — to keep their target audience — they could be lying about that…)

In any event, if I had to put money on it, for whatever reason, I surmise, Smollett indeed made the whole thing up.

Not only was his initial report over the top — it would be rare for hate-crime attackers, who don’t tend to be all that smart or creative, to do all of the things that he alleged — and certainly they would have had to have been stalking him already, since they allegedly came prepared with props (bleach and a noose). And further, somehow they knew exactly when to bring those props with them: when the “Empire” star just happened to be going to Subway for food around 2 a.m.

Really?

Also, would real attackers really call Smollett “‘Empire’ faggot” and “‘Empire’ nigger”? Plain-old “faggot” and/or “nigger” I could see, but I rather doubt that they would mention the show in which he stars. Again: over the top. It’s bad writing because it beggars belief.

If Smollett actually is found to not have made the whole thing up, then I’d be the first to say so (and update this post accordingly) and offer and apology, but yeah, I very much doubt that Smollett’s story, in the end, will be corroborated.

If he lied — and he wouldn’t be the first to have lied about having been the victim of a hate crime — of course he has made it worse for those who come after him who actually are the victims of hate crimes, and of course he should be prosecuted for having lied to the police.

And I’ll come out and say it: the black community hasn’t been big on defending gay people, to put it quite mildly and charitably, so it seems to me that in this case they have responded more to the alleged racist hate crime against Smollett than to the alleged homophobic hate crime against him.

Just sayin’: The Smollett case apparently not only says a lot about Smollett and what apparent bullshit story he believed would fly in this age of toxic identity politics, but says a lot about those who were so quick to claim that he had to be telling the truth — before the details of the investigation ever even came out. It’s been quite the Rorschach test. (See: confirmation bias.)

P.S. Smollett apparently even fooled “President” Pussygrabber, who called that the alleged attack on Smollett “horrible,” adding, “It doesn’t get worse.” Actually, it does get worse, sometimes a lot worse; Smollett had only superficial (self-inflicted?) skin wounds, no broken bones, no damage to any organs, and he’s still very much alive.

On that note, Kamala Harris rather dramatically called Smollett’s account “an attempted modern day lynching.”

Again, two words: confirmation bias. Harris desperately wants that black base, I know, but she might show some, um, presidential caution before commenting next time. There has been no evidence presented thus far that anyone actually was trying to lynch Smollett, for fuck’s sake.

This woman was a prosecutor? Scary…

P.P.S. Cory Booker also called the Smollett account “an attempted modern-day lynching.” Of course. Jesus fuck.

I’m not sure who tweeted that bullshit first, Harris or Booker (tweets are given time stamps, but from which time zone[s]?), but it’s hard to believe that both would use the exact same phrase without knowledge that the other had done so first.

And, again, to stoke interracial strife before the facts of an alleged incident are even established — again, hardly what I would call presidential.

P.P.P.S. It’s being reported that Smollett has hired Michael Cohen’s criminal defense attorney.

To be abundantly fair, hiring a criminal defense attorney doesn’t necessarily mean that you are guilty of a crime, but, um…

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