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The Racist, Homophobic Attack on Jussie Smollett Is Far-Right America's Endgame

By Joshua Rivera, GQ


Early Tuesday morning, Jussie Smollett, the 36-year-old star of Fox's Empire, left a Chicago restaurant and was reportedly accosted by two men who proceeded to shout racial and homophobic slurs before beating him, pouring an unknown chemical substance on him, and wrapping a rope around his neck before fleeing the scene. According to a statement issued by Chicago police, the incident is being investigated as a "possible hate crime."

The cautious wording is one last wound inflicted on Smollett's battered body, a careful hedging of bets that don't need hedging—a crime scene involving a corpse is not discussed as a "possible death."

But the stodgy apparatus of law enforcement isn't particularly interested in acknowledging social ills—and neither is the news media when it goose-steps around the truth of the matter with shallow euphemisms like "racially charged" used to describe open, proud bigotry.

Whiteness in 21st century America has an endgame, and it is this: to divest itself from the shame of its power, while working to revive the fear it needs in which to thrive. And there is work being done, work done by panels of respectable-seeming men and women on cable news networks dismissing the red MAGA hat as innocuous, work done by politicians who continue to openly lie about the danger immigrants pose to Americans while choosing to ignore that almost all violent extremist crime is committed by right-wing terrorists, by the refusal to acknowledge that bigotry is alive and well, perpetrated by racists and homophobes targeting people like Smollett, criminals who have no qualms in sharing what motivates them. Hate needs to sign its work. That's how hate persists.

The assault of Jussie Smollett is not an isolated incident. Americans who do not fit the white, straight, male, or Christian mold of the ruling class are being targeted with concerning regularity, in synagogues and churches and nightclubs. The perpetrators are not all white, but they are cultivated in a culture built to reward the narrow slice of Americans that have lives that mirror those of the powerful and largely disregard the misfortune of those who do not.

At this late stage, the message is clearer than it has ever been. Jussie Smollett is a successful actor on a popular television series, one of the most famous black and gay men in America, and even he is not safe. A rope was put around his neck because he dared to be a person who did not hide who he was.

You don't put a rope on a person of color in America unless you're interested in sending messages—one to the people you hate, and another to those you think will agree with you.

A still-disputed aspect of the attack on Smollett is a line shouted after his attackers fled the scene: "This is MAGA country." While its veracity isn't confirmed, its sentiment needs no fact-check. 

America's choice to embrace the blind rage of late-stage whiteness in decline is an explicit longing for this kind of crime, a version of America in which those who do not assimilate to the satisfaction of their white, straight, and Christian betters are subject to the impunity of law enforcement, the scorn of the media and the fury of racist homophobes stalking the streets of your city, who want you to know that they could lynch you if they really wanted to, and maybe get away with it too.


Black, gay US TV actor attacked in 'possible hate crime'

Chicago (AFP) - Black, openly-gay actor Jussie Smollett of the US television program "Empire" was hospitalized Tuesday in Chicago following a possibly hate-motivated attack in which assailants tied a rope around his neck, police and his co-workers said.

News of the early morning attack left the entertainment world reeling and gay advocacy groups speaking out in support of the 36-year-old actor.

Smollett was beaten at around 2:00 am by two attackers who yelled "racial and homophobic slurs" while he walked downtown in the third-biggest US city, said police, who did not name him but said the victim was an actor from "Empire."

Smollett's fellow cast members and production company identified him as the victim.

The attackers poured "an unknown chemical substance" on him, and then wrapped a rope around the actor's neck, according to police.

"Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime," the Chicago Police Department said.

The actor and singer was reportedly in Chicago for a scheduled Saturday concert.

Senator Kamala Harris of California, who on the weekend launched her 2020 campaign to be America's first black female president, called the incident "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," Harris said on Twitter.

Members of the "Empire" production team and cast, as well as the studio that produces the program, also spoke out.

"The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate -- and especially against one of our own," 20th Century Fox Television said in a statement.

The show's co-creator Lee Daniels posted an Instagram video calling Jussie "my son."

"You didn't deserve, nor anybody deserves, to have a noose put around your neck," Daniels said, addressing the actor.

"Hold your head up Jussie. I'm with you. I'll be there in a minute. It's just another fucking day in America," he said.

Advocacy groups including the The Trevor Project and the American Civil Liberties Union, quickly offered their support as well.

"LGBTQ people of color live at multiple intersections of oppression, too often facing violence compounded by both racism and homophobia," the ACLU said.

"This is the America we all live in."


Jussie Smollett, star of Empire, has noose put around neck in suspected hate crime attack By Nick Allen, The Telegraph

A gay black TV star was attacked and had a rope put around his neck by two white attackers who reportedly shouted "This is MAGA country".

Jussie Smollett, 35, who stars in the series "Empire," was treated in hospital following the assault in Chicago.

He was attacked by two men in ski masks who yelled racist and homophobic abuse, TMZ, the celebrity news website reported.

The attackers made reference to MAGA - Donald Trump's Make America Great Again slogan - the website reported.

A Chicago police spokesman said: "We received a report of a possible racially charged assault and battery involving a cast member of the television show Empire.

"Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime."

The spokesman added: "The offenders began to batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim.

"At some point during the incident, one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim's neck. The offenders fled the scene."

The chemical substance was bleach, and Smollett was later released from hospital, TMZ reported.

Smollett plays Jamal Lyon, the gay son of a music mogul, in the popular series about an entertainment company, which is filmed in Chicago.

The attack happened at 2am after he had arrived on a late flight from New York and gone for something to eat.

The show's co-creator Lee Daniels said the incident was "just another f****** day in America" and urged the nation to improve.

In a video on Instagram, an emotional Daniels said: "It's taken me a minute to come to social media about this because Jussie you are my son.

"You didn't deserve, nor does anybody deserve, to have a noose put around your neck, to have bleach thrown on you, to be called 'die f*****, n*****' or whatever they said to you.

"You are better than that. We are better than that. America is better than that.

"It starts at home. We have to love each other regardless of what sexual orientation we are.

"No racist f*** can come in and do the things that they did to you.

"Hold your head up, Jussie, I'm with you, I'll be there in a minute. It's just another f****** day in America."

In a statement 20th Century Fox Television, which produces Empire, said: "We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our Empire family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night.

"We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice."

A spokesman added: "The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate, and especially against one of our own."

The FBI was already investigating a threatening letter sent to the actor a week ago, TMZ reported.

Ariana Grande was among a host of celebrities to offer support.

Grande said the incident left her "sick to my stomach" and sent, "all of the healing energy / love i possibly can and hoping for change".

Grande added: "What can we do ? tell me & i'm there."

Beware of falling chocolates. Shake this blog up and candy will fall out. Random hidden codes throughout. Words may have two meanings but a picture can tell a thousand words. And yet the learned are not wise and the wise are not learned. In our own busy society we try to save time but in reality no one can save time. You can only spend time. So then the only real question is do you spend your time wisely or foolishly? Welcome to the Underground, we don't chase rabbits around, we are the rabbit hole.

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