by Dov Fischer
I guess I first knew Jussie Smollett was fated for disaster when he did the unthinkable: an American trying to perpetrate a fraud on Nigerians.
Add to that: He had the full-throated backing of Kamala Harris, our vice tweeter, and of our Tweeter-in-Chief. In Harris’s words: “@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery. This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.” Uncle Joe (or whoever tweets for him) posted this: “What happened today to @JussieSmollett must never be tolerated in this country. We must stand up and demand that we no longer give this hate safe harbor; that homophobia and racism have no place on our streets or in our hearts. We are with you, Jussie.”
- The Insatiable American Fascination with Crime, Crooks, Detectives, and Courtroom “Trials of the Century”
Americans — and perhaps all people — are fascinated by crime … and by crooks in general. I know — and so do you — a gazillion people who have no idea what is happening in the world, but they are expert in every detail about the latest serial murderer. Through decades I have been amazed that the same person who does not know that the Berlin Wall just came down and that the Soviet Union has dissolved, does not know the name Lech Walesa or Tony Blair or Angela Merkel or Vladimir Putin, does not know that inflation has blown through the roof under current President Carter or has come under control under current President Reagan, does not know that the economy has fainted and that poverty numbers and unemployment rates (with no “shovel-ready jobs” after all) are disastrous under current President Obama or that it all has been revived with lowest-ever unemployment numbers for Blacks, Hispanics, and virtually every demographic under current President Trump, does not know that in only one year’s time America has gone from a net exporter of energy to a situation where the president has to release 50 million barrels of oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, does not know what is going on at our southern border and does not even know we have a northern border … and yet that same person nevertheless knows everything there possibly can be to know about the Hillside Strangler, the .44 Caliber killer (aka the Son of Sam), Patty Hearst, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Richard Speck, and their sort.
It is quite a thing, the American fascination with crime and criminals. Our movies and television reflect the tastes of the average American — literally, the mediocrity. Try a clever new idea in television, like Star Trek for blending science fiction with morality tales or Arrested Development for blending the most clever of puns with quirky story-telling out of Orange County, California, and those shows get canceled almost instantly for lack of viewership. (And that’s why you should always leave a note.) Only massive protest campaigns by fans, or disproportionate recognition for a too-sophisticated-or-clever — and thus unsuccessful — movie or TV show at awards season, ultimately persuades network programmers to give such breakout shows another go. Even Seinfeld needed time. But give the public general mediocrity, and it can fly. All the better if we give them crime and criminals.
Such is the allure of crime and crooks that Americans even have come to love picking their “Good” Villains over the “Bad” ones. Thus, we loved the Corleone family, rooted for Don Vito after he was gunned down and hospitalized while picking produce at the open market, applauded as Michael shot the dirty cop in the restaurant, further cheered as Michael, while standing solemnly in church at his son’s baptism, had set in motion for his henchmen to gun down a whole slew of enemies, one by one, in their beds, at courthouse steps, wherever. Same in the sequels. Also Tony Soprano and all the Scorsese Mafia types played by De Niro and Joe Pesci. We may despise De Niro as real-life disgusting Robert De Niro but love the mobsters he plays: young Vito Corleone, Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas, and Paul Vitti in the comical Analyze This pair of films. We even have been spellbound by other sickos in De Niro’s acting arsenal like the deranged taxi driver in the eponymous movie who actually inspired another mental case, John Hinckley, to shoot President Reagan.
And we likewise are spellbound by the courtroom dramas that stem from crime, featuring our favorite real-life crooks and bad guys: O.J. Simpson, Charles Manson, Scott Peterson, Drew Peterson, the Unabomber, even the likes of Teflon Don John Gotti and school teacher Mary Kay Letourneau. When we run out of notorious criminals and show trials for a while, we turn to invented new ones to keep us entertained in and out of the courtroom. Even good-guy crime investigators and attorneys grab us: Sherlock Holmes, Charlie Chan, Hercule Poirot, Perry Mason, Ben Matlock, the ensemble at L.A. Law, Boston Legal, Ally McBeal. Even the likes of Saul Goodman, the only Breaking Bad character to merit a sequel series. Indeed, Law and Order has remained alive in so many iterations that an entire cable network could be maintained solely off its reruns. And Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife.
2. Jesse Smollett, A Criminal for Our Time: Make America Hate Again
Which all brings the discussion to America’s latest crook of fascination, Jussie Smollett, convicted fraudster and perpetrator of yet another among so many “Systemic Racism” hate-crime hoaxes fueled by dishonesty on the Left and in its media, this one calculated to tear a nation. Coming on the heels of so many such hoaxes, whether false tales of rape (e.g., Duke lacrosse team, University of Virginia fraternity, and Lena Dunham’s lies) or of White racist attacks against Blacks (consider this list of some twenty false “hate crimes” reported during the Trump years or this research on 409 hate-crime hoaxes or this website listing 449 hate-crime hoaxes), Smollett’s narrative aimed to make him more famous and to tear down America.
Few of us ever had heard of Smollett, except for the niche audience of a television show, Empire, that focused on a corporation dealing in hip-hop music. In particular, that program appealed more to Black viewers than to White audiences. Smollett not only was unknown to the greater public but also was said to be furious that he was paid less per episode than were his co-actors. It had been reported that he was earning “only” $20,000 per episode in 2016 as compared to bigger stars who were getting $175,000 per. Two years later, he reportedly was up to $65,000 per episode. At that time, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the average American was earning in an entire year what Smollett was getting per episode. As his numbers rose towards $125,000 per episode, others acting alongside him rose to $225,000-$250,000 per.
Smollett decided to become more famous. Man cannot live by yolks alone. Nor by their chalazae.
In a way, his strategy was brilliant. If you are White and are accused of racism, the mainstream media will undertake to destroy you. They will lie at every bend to distort the truth and facts to build a false narrative of racism and hate crime. Exhibit A is Nick Sandmann of Covington, Kentucky. Exhibit B is Kyle Rittenhouse. In such cases, the Left media will fabricate, fake, fib, falsify, foney-baloney everything: the context and background, who initiated, the incredibly sordid background of the guy or guys whose media advocates claim are “Hate Crime Victims,” and what the White guy was doing there in the first place. Every pertinent fact is perverted.
Thus, we are told that Nick smirked contemptuously at a poor Native American when, in fact, young Mr. Sandmann was in Washington to march peacefully for life and maintained equilibrium and respectful silence when a Native American barged up to him like a wild Indian, banging a drum right in his face inches away. It soon emerged that Nathan Phillips (aka “Sky Man”), around whom the Left media rallied as a brave Vietnam veteran, in fact never had been deployed to Vietnam, had gone AWOL three times while in the military reserves, had pleaded guilty to an assault charge, and — contrary to his tweeted claims that he had been honorably discharged from service — in fact was not honorably discharged. We were told that Rittenhouse transported firearms illegally across state lines to murder some Blacks at a George Floyd rally when in fact Rittenhouse had personal roots in Kenosha — just minutes across the Illinois border — where his father and other close relatives live, where he was employed, where his friend had a legal firearm properly stored, and where he ultimately killed two truly disgusting and violent White criminals who each were in the act of imperiling Mr. Rittenhouse’s own life in a riot where the local police completely had lost control of the peace.
But Smollett is Black. He is gay. He is Hollywood. So he is protected. In a country where the Left screams “Systemic Racism” night and day, he was a shoo-in for national approbation. By the time the Left media were finished idolizing him, perhaps Americans in blue states even could start erecting Jussie Smollett statues in city centers to fill in spots left empty by toppling the monuments to Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Raoul Wallenberg. Look at what had been done to poor Jesse:
It was a bitterly freezing night in Chicago. Past midnight. Jesse was in the mood for eggs. Too poor at only $20,000 or $65,000 per episode, he could not afford a subscription to Instacart, Grub Hub, Uber Eats, or Door Dash so had to venture forth on Chicago’s famously safe midnight streets, scrambling to search for some satisfying albumin. But instead he was attacked by two Trump supporters. Since they were Trump supporters, they were by definition “systemic racists” and race haters. Like all Trump supporters, they were yelling “MAGA! MAGA!” because that is what Trump supporters do, much as cats meow, cows moo, and Clintons and Bidens lie. They poured bleach on Smollett because, what, he is Black? Then, like all White Trump supporters who venture on bitterly freezing Chicago streets after midnight yelling “MAGA! MAGA!” they carried a noose with them — just in case they could find a Black to lynch to, what, a telephone pole? The Willis Tower (aka the Sears Roebuck Tower)? The John Hancock Center? Steve Bartman? So there was Jesse, beaten, quasi-lynched, bleached.
And now famous.
3. The Role of Left “Legacy” Media in Propagating Smollett’s Hate Hoax
Hand-off the relay baton to the media: Soon he was appearing on network talk shows, relating his tale of woe. Consider this 15-minute “ABC Exclusive” interview with Robin Roberts. His was the Story of the Year about the (annual) Crime of the Century. A new example for the Left Media to distort: falsely casting his despicable tale of lye cast on him into a bigger lie, converting his false noose into fake news. In the Age of Trump, here was the perfect poster boy for the era that the Left Media had converted with the lie that Trump is as anti-Semitic a Jew-hater as any Hitlerian Nazi who ever lived and a racist who praised the White Supremacists of Charlottesville — yet another Left Media Big Lie about a President who in fact had condemned the neo-Nazi race haters there of both the White Supremacist right and the Antifa / Black Lives Matter left, while the President then noted, too, that there also were fine people there on both sides.
Smollett had it all figured out. The Left Media never would look more closely into the web of his lies. Instead, they would amplify them. Perhaps one day, with enough karma of harassment, he might even be named Kamala Harris’s running mate on a dream presidential ticket: one, an African American woman who has not a trace of Africa in her (except perhaps for this) and the other a gay man, Hollywood-created, victimized by a hate crime that never happened, earning a million dollars per year for portraying fiction about men with swinging nooses yelling “MAGA! MAGA!” (Friendly tip for future woke hate-crime hoaxsters: better chance that today’s Trump backers would be chanting “Let’s Go Brandon!”)
4. And Yet the Truth Broke Through: From Dave Chappelle to a Jury That Nailed It in One Day
How did the truth ever break through?
As with the Biden Presidency, months and even years of Left Media deception and protection cover up and distort so much truth until a singular event, a moment, erupts that is so compelling that even the Left media have to crack. With Biden it was the Afghanistan evacuation. As I wrote at the time, long before most anyone else saw the connection to what next would unfold, that tragic event burst the entire protective media bubble and would mark the moment when his positive polling would plummet south forevermore like a Looney Tunes anvil. In similar fashion, two factors helped burst the Left media’s iconization of Jussie Smollett: one, a Dave Chappelle stand-up sketch, the other that Smollett had the temerity to think an American could pull a scam on Nigerians. This five-minute stand-up sketch by a Black comedian in front of an almost-uniformly Black audience broke important ice. It was so obvious that Smollett was lying through his teeth that even an all-Black audience saw no racism — only the obvious truth that the emperor of Empire was naked. And he had paid the two Nigerians, his confidantes and body guards, to beat him up. Together they had driven around, casing the area. He even had given them the money to buy the noose, proving the eternal truth of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s dictum: “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”
The story’s many fault lines, along with Jussie, self-immolated. All the conservative media — y’know, the ones that get censored on Facebook and in Twitter and on YouTube for being unreliable spreaders of fake news (i.e., for puncturing Left media lies and fake news) — jumped in. Me Too in an article that Real Clear Politics kindly disseminated further. The truth came out.
As the Jussie Smollett trial ended this week, his jury needed practically no time — only nine hours — to come back with a verdict of Guilty and Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire. We now are left with a few remaining questions and thoughts lingering:
- Will some prosecutor somewhere finally charge a perjurer — i.e., a person who intentionally lies under oath in a courtroom — with a crime? They did not do so for Christine Blasey Ford. The time has come.
- If you are going to try to pull a fast one on Nigerians, you better be the Nigerian Minister of Finance, the most recently deposed Nigerian Junta Leader, Nigerian Minister of Defense, or Nigerian Minister of Defenestration — and limit your criminal fraud to asking for a social security number, a bank account number, and other stuff like that. Stay away from Hate Crime stories. The whole point of a Nigerian Scam is a racially blind equal-opportunity crime.
- My favorite moment of the trial: The prosecutor, with Smollett on the witness stand, asks him what damages he actually has. He has no marks, no scars, no nothing. He retorts that, uh, he was left with a small scar under one eye, and even the slightest scar destroys his TV and movie career because Hollywood demands perfection in its stars’ appearances [DBF note: notable exception — Steve Buscemi]. The prosecutor retorts: but here is a photo taken of you during a TV talk show interview you gave after your reported incident, and I don’t see any scar there under your eye. To which Smollett replies: that’s because the excellent make-up artists in Hollywood can expertly cover up such scars, so that no one ever sees them. Think about that.
In a world of make-up, eyelids can be made up. Missed rehearsals can be made up.
And Big Lies about the inherent goodness of the American people and the absence of systemic racism in American society also can be made up. As Walter E. Williams has observed, the best news of all that comes from such hoaxes: If it were not so overwhelmingly, blatantly false that America is beset with systemic race hate, the woke Left would not have to invent so many hate-crime hoaxes for so many years continue to feeding their false narratives.
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Rabbi Dov Fischer, Esq., a high-stakes litigation attorney of more than twenty-five years and an adjunct professor of law of more than fifteen years, is rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California. His legal career has included serving as Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, clerking for the Hon. Danny J. Boggs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and then litigating at three of America’s most prominent law firms: JonesDay, Akin Gump, and Baker & Hostetler. In his rabbinical career, Rabbi Fischer has served several terms on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America, is Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, has been Vice President of Zionist Organization of America, and has served on regional boards of the American Jewish Committee, B’nai Brith Hillel, and several others. His writings on contemporary political issues have appeared over the years in the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Jerusalem Post, National Review, American Greatness, The Weekly Standard, and in Jewish media in American and in Israel. A winner of an American Jurisprudence Award in Professional Legal Ethics, Rabbi Fischer also is the author of two books, including General Sharon’s War Against Time Magazine, which covered the Israeli General’s 1980s landmark libel suit.
Photo “Jussie Smollett” by Dominick D CC BY-SA 2.0.