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What conservatives should realize before they relish the Jussie Smollett verdict

The former “Empire” star has been at the center of a hate crime allegation for nearly three years.


The actor Jussie Smollett has been found guilty of lying to police in 2019 when he claimed he was the victim of a racist, homophobic attack in Chicago, bringing to a close one of the more bizarre high-profile celebrity cases in recent memory.

The Cook County State's Attorney's Office initially dropped all charges against Smollett, best known for his role on Fox’s “Empire." After a special prosecutor's review of the case, a grand jury indicted Smollett on similar charges last year.

Smollett told police in 2019 that he had been assaulted by two masked white men who shouted pro-Trump slogans, poured a bleach-like substance on him and tied a rope around his neck. But two brothers, Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo, testified that Smollett asked them to stage the attack.

Abimbola Osundairo, who said he was friends with Smollett at the time, accused the actor of orchestrating the incident to draw media attention to actual hate mail he received in 2019. Olabinjo Osundairo told prosecutors that Smollett “had this crazy idea of getting attacked by two Trump supporters so he could post it on social media.”

Smollett held throughout the trial that the incident was not a hoax. 

Nonetheless, the strange, seemingly ever-changing details in the case have provided nearly three years’ worth of material for comedians and online commentators. Some of it has been quite funny, in fact. 

Even more comical, in my view, was the predictable conservative outrage over Smollett’s allegations. Conservatives took to social media in 2019 to express outrage over the dropped charges. How dare someone make such a heinous claim about followers of their dear leader, they screeched. Violent, masked white guys who shout Trump slogans and use chemical agents to attack victims? 

Many on the right shamed those of us who knew such a claim was totally plausible — and then the Jan. 6 insurrection happened.  

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