By Edwin Crayton/Opinion
We Americans like to believe that justice is blind. It’s one of the values that separates us from the many oppressive nations where injustice is the norm and where human rights are limited to the privileged and powerful. Make no mistake however, I realize we Americans have a dark history and do not always live up to our ideals. Indeed our history is littered with vicious discrimination against minorities, women and the poor. Yet, we do value the concept that our legal system strives to be fair to poor and rich alike.
While American Society has made strides in capping many prejudices of the powerful who have abused laws, I predict that as we journey deeper into the 21st Century, there will be newer sources of bias creeping up which will not be quite as obvious as the old ones. One new oppressive force is political correctness gone overboard. This came to mind as I continue to read the odd, sad saga of Jussie Smollett, a star of the TV show Empire.
Smollett an African American who is reported to be gay, claimed falsely that in January, in Chicago, he was the victim of racists and gay bashers. A news report on AOL.com states, he further claimed, the attackers yelled “MAGA country—a reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
Smollett’s claims have since been proven false and he was charged with making a false report. It is also alleged he paid two men to fake the “attack” event. Seemed like a cut and dry criminal offense to me. But somehow, prosecutors in Chicago have dropped charges. He can walk. However, President Trump is asking the FBI to look into the case. At least one major liberal voice objects too. Liberal Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has objected publically to the dismissal of charges calling it “a whitewash of justice.”
Question: Would Smollett have been excused if he were a white male or white female found guilty of making a false report about being attacked by blacks or Hispanics? White Male Radio Show Host Don Imus was slammed and hung out to dry professionally for calling female African American College Basketball Players “Nappy headed hoes (whores)”. And when any celebrity makes a negative comment about homosexuals, that celebrity is soon heard apologizing. Isn’t it also just as wrong when a gay or black person is guilty of making inflammatory statements that hurt others? Once during legal segregation in this country whites routinely falsely accused blacks of crimes and unfortunately this resulted in the imprisonment of many innocent black people. How is it any different when a gay person or black or Asian or woman is found making false charges? What’s worse here is that Smollett created an impression that Trump supporters were part of the attack. That matters because in the current, tense, polarized political environment it is divisive to falsely claim Trump supporters are beating up blacks and gays. In fact, that means that Smollett actually attacked Trump supporters instead of them attacking him as he implied.
It appears we are flirting with a double standard that works like this: If you are in a group that is commonly identified with being traditionally and historically guilty of oppression you had better watch your words and actions. Call this the “out” group. But if you are in second group identified with being oppressed (or we just like you a lot) you may expect to sometimes get a pass when you do something offensive (call this the “in” group). To be fair it is not clear if being black and gay was the reason Smollett was given a get out of jail free card. But the question bears asking: Did his minority status play a role in his getting off? The world we are in is changing fast. Not all the changes are good ones. But our nation should not change so fast that we Americans forget that justice for all needs to mean just that. Our symbol of justice is a woman wearing a blindfold. Let’s monitor political correctness in order to make sure she does not peek from under that blindfold to see who is being tried before issuing her verdicts.
Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.
—The Book of Amos 5:24
- The City of Chicago sued Jussie Smollett for investigation costs. – April 11, 2019.