American actor Jussie Smollett has been found guilty of having staged a racist attack against himself. In 2019, Smollett hired two Nigerian body builders to pose as Trump sympathizers who allegedly attacked him and tied a noose around his neck— a powerful symbol of racist hatred in the United States.
Right-wing media is having a field day with this verdict, as it exposes the fact that claiming to be a victim has become a profitable business. Pundits have been especially hard on US vice-president Kamala Harris, who soon after the incident (but before police investigators disclosed that Smollett had staged the whole episode), tweeted: “[Smollett] 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 colour of their skin. We must confront this hate.”
This is unfair, and those who are going hard on Harris are overusing the benefit of hindsight. Harris did rush to judgement, but don’t we all? In fact, at the time, this was the compassionate thing to do for any politician. When the truth was revealed about Smollett’s hoax, Harris tweeted again expressing how frustrated and disappointed she was at Smollett’s foolish act.
Be that as it may, Harris’ approach is vastly different from Black Lives Matter’s position. During Smollett’s trial, Black Lives Matter issued the following statement: “In our commitment to abolition, we can never believe police, especially the Chicago Police Department (CPD) over Jussie Smollett, a Black man who has been courageously present, visible, and vocal in the struggle for Black freedom. While policing at-large is an irredeemable institution, CPD is notorious for its long and deep history of corruption, racism, and brutality.”
This is proof that Black Lives Matter cannot be taken seriously. Yes, racism still exists in the United States and other Western countries. Yes, police brutality is still an issue (although not with the racial disparities that the Left attributes it).
But, like it or not, you need police in any society, for as in Hobbes’ famous phrase, homo homini lupus, man is wolf to man. That is why Black Lives Matter’s claim about police being “an irremediable institution” is preposterous. And even worse, despite the mountain of evidence against Smollett, Black Lives Matter simply refuses to acknowledge the hoax, justice be damned.
At the end of the day, Black Lives Matter is yet another example of gung ho identity politics. Whereas the old Latin jurists liked to proclaim Fiat justitia ruat caelum (“let justice be done though the heavens fall”), groups such as Black Lives Matter prefer to favour an old jingoistic phrase, “my country right or wrong!”, although in their reformulation, it is “my race, right or wrong!”
It would of course be unfair to claim that Black Lives Matter invented the subordination of justice to identity politics in the United States. OJ Simpson’s trial in 1995 was a preview of the madness that was to come in the ensuing decades, with one juror infamously admitting that she voted to acquit Simpson only as payback for previous episodes of racism in the United States. It is quite evident that, very much as that juror, Black Lives Matter does not care about evidence. For them, Jussie Smollett ought to be considered not guilty — not because the evidence against him is weak, but simply because to undo racism, black men ought not to be punished, no matter what crime they commit.
At the time of Simpson’s acquittal, 80 percent of African Americans believed Simpson was innocent. By 2015, about 50 percent believed so, on par with white Americans. There are probably many factors as to why this decrease took place (not least of which is Simpson’s erratic behaviour ever since his acquittal), but whatever the reason, it was an encouraging sign of healing between whites and African Americans in the United States, and a sign that for an increasing number of people of all races, justice is more important than identity politics.
Black Lives Matter seeks to undo that, all in the name of antiracism. Sadly, its leaders don’t realize how counterproductive this is, even for their own goals. Sooner or later, there will be a real racist attack somewhere in the United States. But as in Aesop’s fable, having cried “Wolf!” in the most pathetic way during the Smollett trial, Black Lives Matter will have an extremely hard time persuading the public when the real wolf comes. Black Lives Matter is a joke. We can only hope that a new brand of rational and sensible activists arises and pushes Black Lives Matter’s idiocy aside, in order to truly strive towards the eradication of racism in society.