The Racist, Homophobic Attack on Jussie Smollett Is Far-Right America’s Endgame
BY JOSHUA RIVERA
January 29, 2019
When one of the most famous black and gay men in America is not safe, the message is clearer than it has ever been. …
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. …
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.