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That is true, but it is no one’s job to exaggerate (or fake) hate crimes either. According to FBI statistics, there were 7,175 hate crimes in 2017, of which 28 percent were anti-black and 9 percent aimed at gay men.
Also, while even one hate crime is too many, they are not rampant compared with crime in general. In 2017 there were 788 aggravated assaults motivated by one form of bias or another out of an estimated 810,825 total aggravated assaults that year. And note that the overall number of assaults had also increased since 2016, which fits the general trend.
Smollett ‘could have created a race war’
Smollett played the victim card to the hilt after the alleged hoax attack, telling fans at a performance in West Hollywood how he “fought the f— back” against his attackers and bragging that he was “the gay Tupac,” an exorbitant claim that rapper 50 Cent satirized in a scathing meme.
Smollett’s family called the incident an act of domestic terrorism. And on cue various figures in the press, punditry and politics launched into the usual overheated analyses of what the attack symbolized in Trump’s America. Democratic presidential aspirants Kamala Harris and Corey Booker both amplified the victim narrative with ominous references to lynching, then sheepishly retreated when the affair turned out to be a case of fake noose.
One of the most preposterous quick takes appeared in GQ, which heatedly concluded that “America’s choice to embrace the blind rage of late-stage whiteness in decline is an explicit longing for this kind of crime.”
This article was tweeted out by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., who ironically warned that the “dangerous lies spewing from the right wing is (sic) killing & hurting our people.”
Smollett expected the outrage he garnered
Of course, Smollett would have expected righteous outrage to erupt in response to his alleged hoax crime. It would have been part of the marketing effort. CNN’s Don Lemon, while acknowledging that it was “not cool” for Smollett to lie, seemed to imply that the real issue was a failure on the accused felon’s part to have an effective crisis public relations plan, referencing Smollett’s softball interview on Good Morning America.