These were not victimless crimes. Smollett’s staged “MAGA hat” attack was a calculated slander against every American who voted for Donald Trump. I wasn’t one of those voters, but they number some 63 million. What Jussie Smollett was trying to do with that phony 2 a.m. attack in the street and his fake anthrax letter was stir up animosity against every one of them. Let’s be blunt: He was trying to foment racial unrest in this country. One can only assume he’d have been pleased if some actual MAGA hat wearers were physically attacked in retaliation. Those are his hate crimes. They certainly seem worthy of some jail time, if only as a deterrent.
The third hoax — the dropping of charges against this man for no reason that makes sense under the law — assures that the malicious seeds Smollett planted will linger and take root. Millions of people will believe him. “The charges were dropped,” they’ll say, and they won’t be wrong. This, too, is a kind of hate crime, this one committed under color of law by elected officials.
Shortly after Donald Trump’s election as president, the venerable Washington Post adopted as its mantra “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Some Trump supporters chafed at this slogan, seeing it as a subtle dig at their guy. Maybe it is, but the newspaper’s sentiment is undeniably true. In Chicago, democracy also dies in the daylight. In the middle of the morning, in open court.