In a clip from Reliable Sources this morning, Brain Stelter actually identified the problem that leads to an overblown hoax like the one allegedly perpetrated by Jessie Smollet. And Nathan Phillips. And the Kavanaugh accusers. The rest of his take on it was ridiculous, but let’s focus on the former.
Approximately 24 seconds in, Stelter says the following about the reaction to early reports on the alleged attack against Jussie Smollett:
There is an inherent tension in this story between wanting and needing to believe victims and yet knowing people can take advantage of that. Taking advantage of the idea that it is important to believe victims.
There it is folks. Activists, race baiters and the media want and need to believe these stories absent any corroboration or evidence.
I will grant this. Once an investigation is completed and the details of such investigation are available, it is important to believe and support victims. Where Brian is inaccurate, is that what media, race baiters, and activists actually want and need to believe is allegations that fit their world view.
Brian goes on to try and excuse the press from any culpability in perpetuating the Smollet hoax. Unfortunately, Grabien put together a brief montage of the media’s commentary regarding the case.
The need for members of some groups to believe allegations in the absence of evidence is driven by a very dangerous “believe all victims” perspective. This was pushed relentlessly during the Kavanaugh hearings. What the intersectional left actually means when they say that is “Believe everyone who is not a straight white male when they say they are a victim. Especially if they accuse a straight white male. Even better if they are a Republican”.
It is fundamental to the intersectional left to ensure that victimhood is not questioned. Because victimhood is currency. So don’t you dare question a victim! You racist, bigoted, misogynist, homophobe! They need you to believe this country is a racist and bigoted place and always has been. And That this ugly reality has been unmasked by President Trump and his racist, bigoted supporters.
No matter your politics, I can’t imagine wanting these stories to be true or evaluating them uncritically. I want them to be untrue because I believe people are basically good and we live in a very safe and tolerant society. Additionally, they are so antithetical to what I have seen travelling the country extensively for decades, that in the absence of corroborating evidence, I find them impossible to believe.
It turns there may be a good reason for my skepticism. Hate crime is extremely rare in this country. According to 2017 statistics from the FBI, in a country of almost 326,000,000, there were 8,828 hate crimes in 2017. Over half, or 4,922 of these crimes, were property crimes or intimidation that did not rise to the level of simple assault. This means it is highly improbable any one person is the victim of a hate crime. Even more improbable during a polar vortex.
All 4,922 of the crimes committed simply because of someone’s race, sexual orientation or religion should rightly be condemned by all. But the condemnation needs to come when all the facts are clear. From “hands up don’t shoot” to the UVA rape case to Brett Kavanaugh to smirking high schoolers, members of the media and political leaders have jumped the gun on condemnation of broad segments of the population too many times.
Some commentators have decided that it doesn’t matter if the Smollett case was true. Because it starts an “important conversation”. The important conversation should be about why victimhood has become currency. And what that says about our politics and our culture. Some members of the media may also want to look in the mirror and determine why they are so susceptible to getting ahead of the facts.
Their actions damage more than just trust in the media as an institution. It damages real victims. Yet “Republicans Pounce” dominates the headlines when media malfeasance becomes apparent. After the preferred narrative of the left and their allies in the media crumbles.
Perhaps if the media and members of the political left could stop “pouncing” on mere allegations to push their preferred narrative, Republicans would be happy to stay seated.