The case of Jussie Smollett is looking more and more like a fake hate crime. As more information is revealed, it has become increasingly difficult to believe his story of being attacked at 2 a.m. in Chicago by Trump supporters. While the public is not yet certain that the actor orchestrated the entire affair, many on both the left and the right are asking an important question: “Why?”
…they have created an entire social economy based on victimization.
Over the past few years, hate crimes have increased. But false reports also seem to be on the rise. If Smollett’s statements turn out to be false, it could potentially be the most high-profile fake hate crime the nation has seen in many years.
There are likely several forces that could contribute to such hoaxes, but none more so than society’s fixation on victimhood. Indeed, with the progressive left — and even many on the right — pushing a constant narrative of grievance, they have created an entire social economy based on victimization.
How The Victim Economy Works
Our economy works on a basic foundation of consumers purchasing scarce goods from the companies that manufacture and sell them. They exchange their currency for the product or service they wish to receive. The social economy of victimhood functions in a similar manner, producing benefits both tangible and intangible.
Let’s take fake hate crimes, for example. In the world of victimhood, attention, adoration, and sympathy are some of the most coveted prizes one can earn. When it comes to the intersectional movement, one’s level of oppression determines their status in the group. While the intersectional focus of victimhood is typically based on immutable characteristics such as race, sexuality, and gender, it is possible for anyone in these groups to attain a higher social status by finding other ways to obtain the attention they desire.
Much like a business that wants to stand out from its competitors, the victimhood capitalist can achieve greater status than others by becoming involved in something that grants them more legitimacy on the public stage. Being a victim of a hate crime is a surefire way to attract the attention they crave from the consumers who are willing to give the victim their currency.
The Virtue Signaling Consumer
So what is the currency that is paid to the victimhood capitalist? Put simply, it is attention in the form of virtue signaling. Using Smollett’s alleged hoax as an example, we can see that by becoming the victim of a brutal homophobic and racist attack, he gives those in his tribe an opportunity to display their virtue by tweeting, posting, and otherwise expressing their sympathy and outrage.
In this exchange, both parties get what they want. The consumer gets to feel, and even appear to be, noble. Those around them will see that they are decent people because of their outward display of anger towards the injustice endured by Smollett.
On the other hand, Smollett — like other victimhood capitalists — receives an outpouring of sympathy from people who are outraged on his behalf. But even more than that, it also increases his fame and could provide benefits beyond social status. If the actor faked the hate crime and was not discovered, the social elevation he would have enjoyed could have led to other career opportunities.
The Victimhood Capitalist
Of course, it is important to note that the majority of victimhood capitalists do not earn the same level of attention as Jussie Smollett. But in most cases, it doesn’t matter. Perhaps faking a hate crime might make a minority college student more popular on campus. Maybe it gives an LGBT activist a higher standing in the community.
Either way, these individuals manage to earn more attention than their peers by becoming a more compelling victim — whether their victimhood is real or faked. The worse their plight, the greater the attention they will receive from their virtue signaling audience.
If you think this theory sounds rather cynical, you’re right. After all, there are plenty of real victims of hate crimes, and most people feel genuine outrage at these occurrences. When these stories materialize organically, it is apparent that most of the people involved are sincere in their expressions.
But it’s important to take into account the role of the media and other forces of influence in our society that transform these stories into marketplaces of victimhood. In many cases, the victimhood and outrage are either exacerbated or even altogether manufactured by the press. It is why they pounce on incidents such as these without any semblance of skepticism, and in most cases, their reportage is designed to perpetuate a narrative.
Did the media peddle in outrage and victimhood when the truth about the Covington Kids was revealed? Where was the press when an individual smashed the window of a synagogue in New York City? What would have happened if the person who pointed a gun at a couple wearing MAGA hats decided to pull the trigger? Nothing. Why? Because the media is focused on the type of incidents that they can use to promote the victims they choose.
In essence, the Fourth Estate has created and continues to maintain a form of social economics based on victimhood and outrage. In years past, one’s status was not determined by their level of victimhood. Instead, it was the ability to overcome their circumstances that conferred respect and status. As long as the cultural powers that be continue to peddle victimhood in exchange for outrage-fueled virtue signaling, we can expect to see even more fake hate crimes.