Lost in the circus surrounding Jussie Smollett’s allegedly fabricated assault, actual attempts on Black life have been reported all month. Resulting in far less media coverage than the aforementioned scandal, news broke detailing a Coast Guard lieutenant’s plan to assassinate lawmakers and journalists as a part of a larger white supremacist terror attack.
Initially arrested on drug and firearm charges, 49-year-old Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson is now being detained for 14 days while prosecutors attempt to add more charges in light of his terror plot.
Arguing for Hasson’s detainment, federal prosecutors alleged “the defendant plans to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.” According to the government, their soon-to-be ex-officer “is a domestic terrorist, bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect governmental conduct.”
Over the course of several years, Hasson reportedly stockpiled ammunition and created a hit-list with intentions of violently counteracting “liberalist/globalist” ideologies that he felt were “destroying” white people. Don Lemon, Cory Booker, Maxine Waters, Angela Davis and Van Jones were among the names found on the Excel spreadsheet listing Hasson’s many targets—yet none of those names were said on-air last week as often as Jussie Smollett’s.
When Smollett first reported his attack to the Chicago Police Department at the beginning of the month, before his story unraveled and spawned a dizzying spell of debate and analysis, the Empire actor’s story was mostly met with support and empathy. At the time, the wave of news coverage seemed earnest, well deserved, and poignantly crucial to understanding the unique dangers in being both Black and queer in America.
A little more than three weeks later, coverage of Smollett’s now apparent hoax feels disingenuous, opportunistic and very much like a concerted effort to position the bizarre dishonesty of one man as a justification for ignoring other victims of assault. As the zeitgeist stands today, the CPD is treating the situation as a chance for image reparation, Black homophobes are going out of their way to taunt and mock those who dared to believe a victim's story until given reason not to, and white supremacists have become even more emboldened than they were prior to the fraud—all while news similar to Hasson’s planned terror attack falls on deaf ears.
No where near as many people are talking about the six California police officers who shot and killed Willie McCoy for sleeping in his car, as the Smollett "hoax," or that one of the cops who shot McCoy, Ryan McMahon, also gunned down an unarmed Black father of two just last year.
Instead the timelines are filled with news of Trump asking Smollett in a tweet “what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?” Still waiting on a tweet from Trump about the real racist and dangerous comments and threats from Hasson.
The running gag these past few weeks suggests this Black History Month has been the worst on record, in large part due to Jussie Smollett’s alleged transgressions.
Not only does that joke trivialize the disturbing allegations the actor is now tasked with disproving, it also minimizes the real stories of Black History Month that are much bigger than a single publicity stunt.