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Going meta on Jussie Smollett

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The lazy and/or dishonest reaction to the Jussie Smollett affair is that “the Left” instantly and collectively leapt to the conclusion that the incident proved that Trumpism is inciting bigotry in America, and that was a bad thing to do because he made the whole thing up and now we’re just going to have to go out and look for new evidence that Trumpism is racist after all.

I did a Nexis search of coverage of the Smollett incident in the week following his report that he had been attacked, and found the following:

Almost no even slightly prominent liberal or left blog commented on the incident at all.  (Wonkette had one piece).

Neither did any of America’s most prominent liberal and left op-ed writers, and most particularly all two of the nation’s most prominent black opinion page contributors.

This silence was of course a product of the fact that prominent liberal and left commentators were universally skeptical of Smollett’s story from the start, and reacted appropriately (by not saying anything until more facts came out).

There were, however, lots of pieces in the right wing media about how a completely imaginary “rush to judgment”  on the left demonstrated how PC rules everything and hate crimes are mostly made up and you can’t trust “the media” (except for them of course).

Of course prominent politicians condemned the reported attack, because what were they supposed to do under the circumstances?  (David Leonhardt’s lambasting of Kamala Harris for doing so omits to mention that Donald Trump also condemned the purported attack. See also too this Noah Rothman Times piece, which cites people you’ve never heard of as evidence for the proposition that everyone on the left accepted Smollett’s story uncritically).

The lesson here is that right wing critics never let facts get in the way of their pre-ordained judgments (It’s like rain on your wedding day).

. . . A friend makes a good point:

It’s a movement made up of anecdotal arguments, so of course they’re going to make a big deal out of Smollett.  Most right wing policies cannot be justified using empirical evidence. Thus, they justify their policies based on anecdotes. The evidence is clear that human activity is warming the planet, so they cite cold spells as evidence to the contrary. There is no evidence that we have a border crisis (illegal crossings are down, undocumented immigrants are less likely to commit crimes, etc.), so they use the Angel Moms as a way to drive their preferred policies. There is no evidence that guns make you safer (quite the opposite), so they hype the anecdotal stories where a gun owner prevented a crime. There is no evidence that voter fraud is a big issue, so they hype any anecdote they can find to justify disenfranchising thousands of voters. So naturally, in a society where there is all manner of statistical evidence to show that there are pervasive racial biases throughout (starting with policing), they’ll latch onto this one story to say “see, complaints of racism are made up!”

 

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