Because I am not insane, I assumed the Jusse Smollett caper was a hoax as soon as it made the news. It ticked all the boxes of a hoax. The alleged victim was a black Jewish homosexual, who makes a living as a drama queen. The alleged incident happened in Chicago, where the last racist redneck was last seen in the 19th century. The incident happened in a part of town that caters to deviants like Smollett, not MAGA hat wearing Trump supporters. Again, only a nut would accept the story at face value.
Similarly, once the hoax was made plain, I knew the believers on the Left, by which I mean everyone on the Left, would go through the usual phases that they always pass through when confronting disconfirmation. Initially they would lash out at doubters, calling them blasphemers. As the truth was slowly revealed, they would search for explanations to excuse Smollett. Finally, once it was confirmed to be a hoax, they would enter the phase where they admit it was a hoax, but claim these crimes are common.
This brilliant post on the topic goes into more detail, but the general explanation is that these people need to be reinforced in their beliefs and they need to reinforce one another in their beliefs. Progressivism is a social system, as well as a set of beliefs. The believer is not just defined by his beliefs, but by his association with others. Much of the signaling we see from them is not intended for us. Like fireflies blinking in the dusk, they are signaling to one another. These hoaxes provide the opportunity for it.
The people in this photo, for example, don’t care about the details of the case or whether it is even true. They play make believe for a living, so facts grounded in observable reality are not important to them. This Smollett thing was like a stage that suddenly popped up in the public square, allowing them to climb aboard and perform. What they will remember and what their coreligionists will remember, is that they were on board early and stood strong for a victim of those terrible white people on the other side of the wall.
It’s why these people not only fall for these hoaxes, but amplify them. You can be sure that many of the people in that photo have fallen for many of these hoaxes. The little Jewish guy, front row, third from the right, is a barking at the moon anti-white. He really believes Hitler is about to pop out from the bushes and carry him off to a camp. The next time whites are libeled in some way, he will be right there showing his support for the anti-white, regardless of how silly the claim. He is consumed with a hatred of white people.
That’s the thing though. Not only do these people keep falling for these hoaxes, these hoaxes are becoming more common and more outlandish. This one is so absurd, it would not pass muster with Hollywood script writers. The University of Virginia rape hoax was also laughably absurd. In other words, instead of these hoaxes leading to greater skepticism, these hoaxes result in greater credulity on the Left. It’s as if each one is an appetizer, wetting the appetite of the believers, who are desperate for the real thing.
The other side of this dynamic is the civic nationalists are close to a frenzy, trying to prove the next hoax false, confident that this time will do the trick. The Left, confronted with the reality of these hoaxes, will throw down their weapons and finally admit, that yeah, these things are fake. The fear of the secret invisible Hitler people is all nonsense. During every one of these, the CivNats start blinking to one another, working the details of the puzzle, confident that their “eureka!” moment is at hand.
It is a good example of the central challenge of this age. Guys like Steve Sailer truly believe they can turn the tide with facts and reason. He probably has 25 posts on this Smollett thing. He has been working the hate-hoax angle for close to two decades now, yet here we are anyway. He is no closer to unriddling the hate hoax puzzle than he was twenty years ago. If anything, the hoaxes have become more outlandish. Even so, he will keep trying to use facts and reason to address a matter of belief.
No doubt, some civic nationalist types would argue that their project is not about convincing the Left. It is about demonstrating to normal people that these people are dishonest, crazy or even dangerous. In other words, using facts and reason is not about countering belief, but about convincing the rational. The trouble is the Left is undefeated against this strategy and it permits them to own the moral high ground. In this case, they were the ones defending the victim against those evil whites.
Culture wars are moral wars. It is about imposing your morality on the other side, no matter what it takes. It’s why radicals have had no qualms about using violence against their perceived enemies. It’s why Antifa exists. They’re not trying to prove their case or win arguments. They are about clubbing the doubters into submission. From the perspective of the Left, this Smollett affair was a big win. They reinforced an important point They control the morality and they will impose it on society.