Zeitgeist

Fake Noose!

February 20, 2019

Fake Noose!

You can call it Sailer’s Boast: Whenever there is some remarkably dumb development flabbergasting the respectable pundits, I’ve no doubt explained the entire phenomenon years ago in various Taki’s columns.

For example, the sidesplitting Jussie Smollett fake noose story is a classic example of the hate-hoax phenomenon that I’ve been explicating since 2004. So, I’m going to take another victory lap to review what I’ve figured out about hate hysteria over the past fifteen years.

Smollett, a minor gay black TV star on Fox’s hip-hop soap opera Empire, declared last month that homophobic racists had recognized him, thrown bleach on his jacket, and attempted to lynch him.

In an upscale part of downtown Chicago.

During the polar vortex.

To you or me, Jussie’s tale probably sounds like just about the stupidest hate hoax yet. But that’s because we possess the conceptual category of “hate hoax.” So it’s easy for us to call up from our memories a long list of such instances that previously dominated the headlines (for example, in this year alone, Covington Catholic and poor Jazmine Barnes) and conclude that, wow, this one is even more self-evidently absurd than the UVA fraternity initiation gang rape on broken glass hate hoax that bedazzled the national press in 2014.

In contrast, The New York Times, for instance, has never even printed the term “hate hoax.” Instead, there’s just an Epidemic of Hate perpetrated by what Tom Wolfe would call the Great White Defendants…and then there are forgotten random incidents that didn’t quite pan out. But to the prestige press there’s no such thing as a pattern of purported hate crimes routinely imploding embarrassingly.

So, Smollett’s ludicrous yarn became national news, with leading Democratic politicians such as Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker rushing to endorse Jussie’s grift.

Meanwhile, Smollett kept promoting his story.

“To you or me, Jussie’s tale probably sounds like just about the stupidest hate hoax yet.”

Unfortunately for Jussie, he went to the police with his cock-and-bull story. That’s not the kind of mistake that Jackie Coakley of UVA made. She told endless variations of her story to everybody…except the cops, and has therefore gotten away scot-free.

Unlike the national media and presidential contenders, local police are perfectly familiar with the possibility that people sometimes lie to them. In fact, folks perjure themselves to cops all the time. They’re used to it. So cops, unlike candidates and commentators, don’t turn off their brains as soon as somebody invokes identity talismans such as race and sexual orientation. TMZ reports:

The sources say there were red flags from the get-go. Cops were extremely suspicious when Jussie took them out to the area where he said he was attacked and pointed to an obscure camera saying how happy he was that the attack was on video. Turns out the camera was pointing in the wrong direction….

Jussie, you know how you’re always saying: “But what I really want to do is direct”? Well, now you know why they don’t let you direct. Also, don’t try to do your own market research, either:

We’re told investigators didn’t believe the 2 alleged attackers screamed, “This is MAGA country,” because, “Not a single Trump supporter watches ‘Empire.’”

The Chicago police detectives played the case brilliantly, acting as if they believed Smollett’s story, thus keeping the press and politicians off their backs while racking up overtime for puttering around down near glitzy Navy Pier as they methodically ran down all the leads.

Similarly, several local reporters in Chicago, such as Charlie De Mar, Rafer Weigel, and Rob Elgas, did not succumb to the national media’s hate hysteria. Local reporters need to talk to local cops, which keeps them grounded.

For example, The New York Times has a cataclysmic record of falling for endless hate hoaxes across the rest of the country, but its own local police beat reporter, Joseph Goldstein, is admirably hardheaded.

And quite a few national media figures prudently kept their heads down in the wake of humiliations like Covington and Jazmine. But few dared mention in public that these kinds of stories have a terrible track record of blowing up.

One factor exacerbating the quality of the Smollett coverage was that because the accuser is on TV, the story was often assigned to entertainment writers, who tend to be nitwits.

One lesson I’ve learned over the past dozen years is that hate-crime stories featuring nooses are usually Fake Noose.

I can recall being baffled as recently as 2007 when Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton descended upon the small town of Jena, La., to lead a march championing six black high school football stars who brutally beat a white youth. The white kid had it coming, the reverends implied, because nooses had been hung on a tree at the school several months before.

Like me, the white students were baffled: Nooses had been decor for a cowboy-themed dance (as in the Coen brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs). What do nooses have to do with blacks?

Since then, we’ve all been lectured on how lynching is a living part of White Privilege. (In reality, Jena was an example of Football Privilege, but who has ever heard of that?) But there’s little evidence that nooses exist as a symbol of white power in the minds of anybody besides Afro Studies majors.

Similarly, Smollett’s contention that the MAGA guys threw bleach on him is perhaps some kind of woke fantasy about white racists wanting to bleach black people of their melanin.

This is not to say that straight white males don’t ever commit genuine hate crimes. Some are so horrific, such as last year’s Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, that they naturally get global coverage.

On the more petty level, somewhere in this huge country of ours, white juvenile delinquents are committing stupid crimes against nonwhites and gays for reasons of animus. Also, in prison, whites often join gangs with scary-sounding white-power names, generally for reasons of self-defense. Not surprisingly, when they get out they often keep on doing crimes, all of which are carefully tabulated by the SPLC and ADL.

But few of these legitimate hate-crime cases get extravagant national media attention because the cops immediately arrest the offenders, and prosecutors see that they are severely punished. There’s no controversy to write about day after day.

In contrast, the stories that receive huge amounts of ink (often by implying that the cops are dragging their feet due to racism) tend to self-destruct. If in 2019 Black Twitter is going nuts over a purported hate crime but the police aren’t rushing to arrest what Tom Wolfe would call a Great White Defendant, the cops usually turn out to have good reasons for their caution.

This doesn’t mean that every hate-crime story that blows up is due to a carefully plotted hate hoax.

Some are actually due to hate hypochondria in which no crime at all happened. For example, after Trump was elected, a Jewish politician announced that anti-Semitic vandals had toppled 42 headstones in Brooklyn. The graveyard manager, however, explained that the culprit was actually gravity: “It definitely was not vandalism…. The older sections, as the stones wear, they do fall over….”

Similarly, at Kansas State, there was much hubbub when a ceremonial Jewish tent was found destroyed. It was eventually discovered that the malefactor was a thunderstorm.

Besides Acts of God, another type of hate hypochondria is the hate hallucination. In 2013, the (very) liberal arts college Oberlin was convulsed by a student’s claim to have spotted a one-man Ku Klux Klan rally on campus. The cops couldn’t locate a Grand Kleagle, but they did find a lady pedestrian who had wrapped herself in a white blanket against the cold.

And then there are incidents in which the action isn’t against the law.

For example, after Trump’s election, The New York Times began running a This Week in Hate column to catalog what it assumed was going to be a huge number of hate crimes committed by triumphant Trumpians running amok.

But the Times had to give up after many of the incidents it profiled turned out to be laughably pointless. For example, the NYT indignantly reported a college case: A friend “built a wall in Ms. Sanchez’s dorm room” of “clothing and shoes.” But the reprobate turned out not to be the thin-lipped white of stereotype, but a jolly Polynesian lady rugby player with that characteristic Pacific Islander taste for practical jokes.

Another type of hate hysteria would be actual crimes that are not hate crimes. For example, the vandalizing of a Jewish cemetery in University City, Mo., was hugely publicized in 2017. VP Mike Pence came by and helped with the repairs.

The vandal was eventually tracked down a year later via DNA evidence. The cops explained that the perp, a local black guy, wasn’t motivated by anti-Semitism. He was drunk and high and took his anger at a friend out by knocking over headstones.

Personal demons are behind a lot of these phony hate crimes. For example, in 2012, right after Trayvon, The New York Times went nuts over how an Iraqi refugee woman had been murdered in distant El Cajon, Calif., by Islamophobes who left a note reading, “This is my country. Go back to yours, terrorist.”

In contrast to the gullible NYT, the local California newspapers talked to the local cops and came away with a much less fevered take:

Police declined to elaborate, but crime experts said that usually suggests the victim knows the attacker.

Ultimately, the Iraqi husband was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison.

Of course, trying to pin the blame for murder on white Americans ought to count as a hate crime, whether committed by an immigrant murderer or the nation’s most influential newspaper. Still, that’s a secondary offense compared with homicide. The killer’s main motivation, presumably, was to get away with murdering his wife, not to cast a blood libel upon whites.

And then there are actual crimes that are turned into national news by mistaken accusations against white men. The New York Times ran a dozen stories earlier this year about the murder of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes because one witness alleged that the shooter was a cruelly handsome white man. (America has recently become obsessed with the menace posed by evil but sexy white men, like Jackie Coakley’s Haven Monahan.)

But, boringly and depressingly, the actual killers turned out to be a couple of black males in a gang.

And then there are the pure hate hoaxes. For example, in the wake of Jena, America was convulsed with noose sightings, most famously at that notorious den of white racism, Columbia University Teachers College in Manhattan. Professor Madonna G. Constantine (who, despite her wonderful name, is black) said she’d found a noose on her door.

But then she got fired for massive plagiarism, suggesting her hate hoax was intended as a distraction.

Most such hoaxes are solitary crimes involving little planning, often clumsy improvisations to get out of trouble. The kind of leftists and minorities who draw dyslexic cactus-like swastikas, for example, can seldom be bothered to look up which direction they go on their phones.

But Jussie Smollett’s hate hoax stands out because it appears to have been an actual false-flag conspiracy. Granted, it’s not exactly an Oliver Stone-quality collusion, but we should at least appreciate the effort.

Eventually, the cops hauled in two Nigerian bodybuilder acquaintances of Jussie. Smollett apparently paid the Bleach Boys $3,500 to buy ski masks (to cover up that they were black), some cord at the Crafty Beaver home center in Ravenswood, and generic red hats in Uptown (I used to live in Uptown, which advertises itself as America’s most diverse neighborhood, so I can validate that Trump hats would be hard to find), and then attack him on the street.

To paraphrase Wordsworth on Milton:

Wolfe! thou shouldst be living at this hour

Jussie’s boys even got together beforehand and rehearsed.

Most hate hoaxes are much more slapdash efforts. By comparison to most hate hoaxers, Jussie displayed a Daniel Day-Lewis-like level of dedication to Method acting. (Admittedly, none of the conspiracy seemed to know how to tie a noose, only managing to come up with a Windsor necktie knot to hang around the star’s neck.)

We should have annual awards, like the Grammys or Emmys, for Achievement in the Field of Hate Hoaxery.

We could call them the Jussies.

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