My reaction to crazy, infuriating things that woke leftists do is often softened and even evaporates when I notice how the conservative establishment responds to the same situations. I am certainly no fan of Jussie Smollett and was as offended as most non-woke Americans by his shenanigans in Chicago in 2019, when he pretended that he was attacked by white, homophobic, antiblack bigots. I was additionally outraged by expressions of sympathy for Smollett even after it became abundantly evident that he staged the incident in which he claimed he was attacked. Finally, I was underwhelmed by the light sentence of 150 days in jail that the Chicago judge handed out to him last week.
Then I heard Conservative Inc.’s reaction to this train of events, and my anger for Jussie was supplanted by amused contempt for the way “conservative” journalists explained his “real” crime. The worst thing about what Smollett did, according to these folks, was to insult all the past victims of white racism in this once-sinful country.
Not to let an opportunity for virtue-signaling pass by, Piers Morgan recounts in a syndicated column our sad history of racial violence against blacks. Morgan cites in particular the case of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy who was murdered by white racists in 1955. Since a female costar on Smollett’s television soap opera, Empire, cited the Till case to defend her fellow black actor, Morgan might have been justified in pointing out the silliness of this comparison. But instead he built a “conservative” opinion column around the assertion that Smollett’s attempt to fake a hate crime and blame it on whites was chiefly an offense against black victims of racism in the past.
An injustice launched upon a black victim from 60 years ago is hardly the main problem that springs to my mind when I think about what Smollett did and about how political and journalistic celebrities from Kamala on down reacted to his stunt.
Earth to our conservative punditry: We are living in a different age with its own set of prejudices. We now inhabit a society in which elites browbeat us with strident, impudent accusations of bigotry day and night. Our hapless military soldiers suffer the fate of having anti-racist gibberish drummed into them as part of their training, a torture that is also befalling students in our educational system. Even programs on my own woke computer bombard me with propaganda messages from Microsoft, urging me to become an “ally in the war against racism for social justice and equity.”
Propaganda instruments once at the disposal of conventional tyrants like Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were antediluvian compared to those that are now being applied against us. And since LGBT has become part of the leftist state religion in every “liberal democracy,” any slight to Smollett as a proud, practicing homosexual or any hint that gays are not sufficiently esteemed will call down the wrath of the powerful. These are the evils that the Smollett incident illustrated dramatically for me. Far below them in relevance for the present age is insufficient respect for Emmett Till or for the people whom Morgan celebrates for marching in civil rights demonstrations two generations ago.
It is simply easier for our conservative establishment to dredge up civil rights hagiography than to tell us the truth about what is happening in our horribly disjointed age. Our civil liberties and freedom of speech have been ripped away from us by woke leftists, and those who should be showing how the Smollett incident demonstrates this current danger are busy trying to outdo the left in signaling their sensitivity to the past racial sins of whites.
This tendency also follows the established “conservative” narrative that goes something like this: We used to live in a bigoted world teeming with racists, sexists, and homophobes, but we have now happily risen above that mess and welcome everyone (except reactionaries) to the GOP big tent. It is exceedingly hard to push that message of inclusiveness while combatting what really ails the present age, something that the Smollett incident amply demonstrates. So instead, we are asked to remember how bad America used to be and how Jussie’s worst offense was not letting us understand how far we have come in building the present racist-free age.