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The Jussie Smollett case sounds a lot like college race hoaxes

The recent viral story of “Empire” star Jussie Smollett might sound eerily familiar to readers of The College Fix. 

Very early Tuesday morning — 2 a.m. to be exact — Smollett alleges he was attacked in Chicago by two white guys who told him “This is MAGA country” and berated him with racist and homophobic epithets. The assailants also put a noose around his neck and poured a substance — possibly bleach — on him, he claims.

Smollett was out, in the ridiculously freezing polar vortex cold, to go get a … Subway sandwich.

The (progressive) famous immediately took to social media to denounce the assault:

Unfortunately, a lot of questions remain. So far, Chicago police have not seen evidence of the attack on any surveillance camera, just an unclear image of two people “of interest” walking on a sidewalk around the time Smollett was out. Cameras did show a noose on his neck as he entered his apartment building; however, he walked right “past security guards without stopping to ask them for help or to tell them he had just been subjected to a vicious assault and hate crime.”

Smollett also has refused to turn over his cell phone to authorities to confirm his claim that he was talking to his manager at the time of the attack. In addition, he had asked the cops to turn off their body cams when they arrived at his apartment to interview him.

Smollett’s family chimed in Thursday calling the incident “domestic terrorism” and saying (in a seeming dig at President Trump) “hateful words lead to hateful actions.” One of the actor’s neighbors also claims she saw a “redneck” hanging around outside their building an hour and a half before the alleged assault.

MORE: Best of the worst post-election pro-Trump ‘incidents’ & hoaxes

Around the time of the 2016 presidential election, numerous similarly themed “attacks” garnered attention, and if you didn’t know better it seemed as if a narrative was attempting to be created.

A student at Bowling Green had claimed three white men in “Trump” shirts called her a racial slur and threw rocks at her. She later admitted she made it up.

A Baruch College student had alleged she was accosted on a New York City subway by a trio of white guys yelling “Donald Trump!” and “Get the hell out of the country!” They also attempted to tear off her hijab, she claimed. Eventually she was arrested herself for making up the story.

A University of Louisiana Lafayette student had claimed “two white males, one in a Trump hat” had stolen her wallet and ripped off her hijab. She later recanted.

Etc. etc.

Denouncing the Smollett incident on the Stephen Colbert show, actress Ellen Page helped lay the groundwork for the talking points should the story turn out to be bogus: Donald Trump and Mike Pence helped foster such a LGBT/black-hostile environment that it was easy to believe Smollett’s tale.

This is what we call the “teachable moment.”

For example, when it was shown the race-based attack on a trio of SUNY-Albany black students didn’t happen, a professor from the school said “Whatever the outcome of the [hoaxers’] criminal cases […] the events had already served a useful purpose: making white students aware of the subtle slights that students of color regularly encounter.”

When it was determined that a “non-white” high school student had admitted to writing the N-word and “White Lives Matter” on a bathroom mirror, the superintendent said the revelation doesn’t “diminish the hurt it caused or the negative impact it has had on [the] community.”

Or consider when it was revealed a black Air Force Academy cadet had scrawled racist epithets on dorm doors: “No matter its origins, the incident sparked a national discussion on racism and the academy’s swift and public response,” wrote a reporter for the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Expect to see a lot of this if Smollett’s story ends up in the ersatz pile.

MORE: More ‘Trump-inspired’ hate crime hoaxes pop up on campus

IMAGE: pathdoc / Shutterstock.com

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 18 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.