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Iraq War veteran and political analyst Rob Smith had a powerful message for those rushing to defend former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett after he was indicted by a grand jury on six counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police about his claims of a racist and homophobic attack against him in January 2019.
Smollett was originally charged last year with disorderly conduct for allegedly staging a hoax hate crime attack in the streets of Chicago said to involve two supporters of President Donald Trump.
The charges were dropped in March 2019 with little explanation, angering police officials and then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The 37-year-old actor is reportedly due to return to court on Feb. 24
“I’ve never seen myself as a victim. I’ve never portrayed that,” continued Smith, who is also African-American and gay. “But there’s so many people out there who seem to find their identity in victimhood.”
“And the reason why I come out as a black, gay Republican is to tell people that all those labels don’t exist,” he continued. “You can believe what you want to believe. And as a black person or gay person or anything else in America in 2020, nothing is stopping you. But this up here,” he said pointing to his head, suggesting that intelligence is the most important factor for success.
Last week, daytime talk show co-host Amanda Seales appeared to praise Smollett, saying that it is irrelevant whether he lied or not.
“Even if it was a hoax, this is really happening all the time. And even if it was a hoax for the sake of bringing attention to this, then I’m like, that’s low-key noble,” said Seales, “I’m just at my wits end about us centering situations like this and wanting to make people have to pay.”
“What I would say to that is that hate crimes are very real,” said Smith. “People really are attacked for being gay, for being black, for being whatever, but a hoax like this hurts the real victims of hate crimes.”
Webb also asked Smith to react to a new viral video of a young African-American woman, inside a multicultural center at the University of Virginia, suggesting that white students should leave the space.
“Frankly, there are just too many white people in here and this is a space for people of color [POC],” said the unidentified woman in the video. “So just be really cognizant of the space that you’re taking up because it does make some of us POC uncomfortable when we see too many white people in here.”
“I watched that video and I remembered I used to be that. … I wasn’t that extreme,” Smith said. “I remember going through college and being an undergrad and you just get the sense that, ‘Oh, we need to have spaces for black people.'”
“It does a disservice to these students because [not one of] these students are learning anything more than to be perpetual victims of racism,” he concluded. “I think back to the way that I saw the world — when I saw the world like that young lady — and it was it was hurting me. And when I saw myself as a victim that was not able to achieve I didn’t see more for myself.”
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Fox News’ Mariah Haas contributed to this report.