Much like it was with the Gliniewicz suicide, anyone with half a brain immediately understood that Empire actor Jussie Smollett was making it all up. C’mon! Two guys with MAGA hats, in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood, searching out and assaulting Smollett as they shouted “Empire” while hurling racial and homophobic slurs at two in the morning on an 11 degree below zero night?
None of it made sense, not the least of which was, with all due respect, nobody really knew who Smollett was. It was certainly the first I’d ever heard of him. There were far more visible gay targets and what MAGA crew would ever watch a show featuring African-Americans in the music Business? They’re not the type of folks who’d perform any kind of due diligence in furtherance of a hate crime, either.
Even the CPD said they had massive doubts about his story from the beginning.
But sadly, in a hyper-partisan era where even journalists leap at any opportunity to advance their own narrative, few people are willing to reserve judgement until the dust settles. And all those liberal pundits and journalists who quickly rallied to Smollett’s side are now eating a full serving of crow, the worst of them being Chicago Tribune columnist Dahleen Glanton.
Glanton is an African-American journalist who regularly gets away with the kind of proclamations that would quickly get a Caucasian compatriot fired. My favorite Glanton declaration was her contention that the prejudice and persecution directed at gay folks pales in comparison to what black people have had to endure.
Who knew suffering intolerance was a contest?
Sure! It can be easier to determine an individual’s race as opposed to ferreting out their sexual orientation, but getting bounced from a wedding cake bakery on the basis of either is no less appalling. Had a white columnist claimed the opposite, to say there would be hell to pay would be the most massive of understatements.
But instead of issuing a mea culpa for jumping on the Smollett bandwagon, Glanton doubled down last Friday with a column titled, “Sorry bigots, I’m not sorry for once trusting Jussie Smollett. She wrote:
But let’s be clear. Just because one person lied about a racist and homophobic incident does not let all bigots off the hook. This is not a reprieve for someone who has set a bomb off in a mosque or sprayed a synagogue with deadly gunfire.
We live in a country where bigotry is commonplace. And that’s just as disgraceful and inexcusable as someone staging a fake attack.
Apparently, Ms. Glanton’s parents never told her that two wrongs don’t make a right, and not nearly all of the people who attacked her for conclusion jumping were bigots. Me for example! She went on to basically say that being a black columnist means never having to say you’re sorry.
But that’s exactly what she should’ve done, once for completely dropping the journalistic ball and a second time for doing real damage to the tolerance cause. Of course her error doesn’t excuse any kind of bigotry, but there’s also no excuse for Glanton’s failure to admit that she was wrong.
And if a journalist can’t take constructive criticism and correct themselves, what hope is there for the rest of us?
By not saying she’s sorry, Glanton not only hardens the hearts of the very people she’s trying to reach, but she makes it much more difficult for the next real hate-crime victim to be believed. It also belies an agenda that doesn’t rely on the facts.
So, why should anyone trust her going forward? But there was no outcry because she’s black.
In his former HBO comedy show, Chris Rock had a bit where he’d track “black progress,” by marking steps forward or backward on a felt chart. One of his funnier comments was, “Mae Jemison, the first black woman to go out in space, blacks took 16 steps ahead. But then Lil Kim, the first black woman with her [breast] hanging out, [expletive] 42 steps back.”
Sure, it was a joke, but like all great satire, it was based on, and made blistering fun of, a stark reality. Both blacks and gays are unfairly judged based upon their leadership and celebrity acts.
So similarly, Glanton set:
- Black folks back 20 steps
- Gay folks back another 20 steps
- Liberals back 40 steps
- Journalist back 50 steps
- Conservatives and their “fake news” claims ahead 100 steps
So, if you’re a gay black liberal journalist, you just took a real hit. I kid, but the truth is, the amount of damage just one errant journalist can do borders on the immeasurable. Look at how Fox News has co-opted the national debate!
Though it probably won’t happen, I’m still holding out hope that Ms. Glanton will make a point of atoning for her error, while insisting she won’t be so quick to jump to these kinds of political conclusions in the future.
I also hope she understands that a white journalist probably wouldn’t have survived this debacle.