CHICAGO — Something important has been lost in the embarrassing saga of Jussie Smollett, the tuna fish sandwich-loving actor and anti-Trump activist, and those muscular Nigerian brothers.
And I suppose it’s easy to lose what’s important with all the panic and intersectional hatred and liberal identity politics gone bad in this Smollett story.
What’s been lost is this:
I’m told that two dozen detectives were assigned to the Smollett case. Can Chicago afford that, what with all the unsolved murders and shootings in this town?
Some 18 people were killed in Chicago after Smollett began telling his story in late January, that story in which he cast himself as the hero, about having to fight off pro-Trump racists.
Now it turns out the pro-Trump racists, who he says put a noose around his neck, may actually be his friends, two muscular Nigerian brothers who may or may not have been paid in this deal.
Either way, his story is he fought them off. Even though he had a cellphone in one hand, a tuna sandwich in the other.
Smollett must be a certified tough guy. His sandwich survived.
But two dozen detectives assigned to check out his story that he was a victim of a politically inspired pro-Trump hate crime, a story that is unraveling by the second?
Even in Chicago, a city known for its unending violence and political corruption, assigning two dozen detectives seems a bit overdone.
I could go with a lower number — say 20 detectives — given to me by someone who knows.
But that’s still high given all the homicides that are never solved.
Chicago has an abysmal homicide clearance rate of about 17 percent. Chicago’s detective ranks have been decimated by attrition and idiotic shortsighted political management. We don’t have enough detectives. That’s an issue in the mayoral campaign.
Thousands of people have been murdered in Chicago over the past few years, and thousands and thousands more have been shot and survived.
They’re alive because of the wonders of trauma center technology and the brilliance of ER doctors, and the hard work of Chicago Fire Department paramedics.
Even so, the city is numb to physical violence on the street. And numb to the emotional violence exerted by the political class.
But two dozen detectives for Smollett just doesn’t seem right.
I’m not blaming the detectives or the Chicago Police Department. They work for a politician. His name is Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who famously announced a few years ago that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.
And when Smollett told his amazing story, about being a black gay man attacked by racist Trump supporters on one of the coldest nights of the year, the media was all over it. National politicians were all over it.
They bought it without question.
“This was an attempted modern-day lynching,” tweeted Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California. “No one should ever have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.”
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, the New Jersey Democrat, issued a similar tweet, though it saddened me that his mythical friend, the dangerous drug dealer T-Bone, had nothing to say.
But other Democrats fell in line. And CNN and many who earn their livings in the Washington-New York liberal media echo chamber rushed to judgment. So did a few in Chicago, but Chicago reporters had more healthy skepticism than their national counterparts.
It was a perfect anti-Trump story. It fit the prevailing narrative of many in the media (who are themselves liberal Democrats) that Trump supporters are racist and just itching to find some minorities to beat up.
Just a few weeks ago, the same media and Twitter mob descended on those Covington High School boys and blamed them for race hatred in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
It turned out the boys were innocent. But the social justice warriors of the left shrugged and moved on, looking for the next story with which to portray America as a hateful nation — because it fits their politics — and some found it in Smollett.
For a list of media examples, you might want to go to Mediaite and the article “Did the Media Jump the Gun on the Jussie Smollett Story?” by Caleb Howe.
Or you might consider CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin. She looked into the camera, and sighed, and her sigh was full of her politics.
“This is America in 2019,” she said.
We get it, Brooke. We’re terrible. Donald Trump is the president, and everything’s gone to hell.
Nothing is new there. Trump is a political-lightning-rod president, inspiring irrational hate in some and irrational adoration in others and most likely both groups are tribal and wrong.
But America isn’t a hateful nation. America is the least hateful nation, and the best hope of humankind on Earth.
A few weeks ago, after Smollett began telling his tale — in which he’s the hero fighting oppression and hatred — a 1-year-old child was shot in the head.
It looked like a street gang may have been targeting his mother. She’s been shot before. The child, Dejon Irving, is on life support.
I don’t think two dozen detectives were assigned to Dejon Irving’s case. But he’s not a star to be used by politicians in pursuit of power. He’s not a symbol.
Politicians don’t tweet his name. He’s just a little boy from Chicago, shot in the head.