Many across the nation were horrified when the news broke that Empire actor Jussie Smollett had been targeted in a racist and homophobic attack.
Smollett was walking home from a fast food place in Chicago when he was attacked by two men in ski masks. The attackers put a rope around Smollett’s neck and poured an unknown liquid on his skin while berating him with racial and homophobic slurs. They also reportedly yelled “MAGA Country,” invoking President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign motto, “Make America Great Again.”
Now, Trump has addressed the attack…sort of.
When asked about the attack on Smollett, Trump said:
“That I can tell you is horrible…I think that’s horrible. It doesn’t get worse as far as I’m concerned.
Then it took a turn:
As far as the people are concerned, many of those people wanted me to stay out, but I didn’t want to do it because people were getting hurt. What I think is the worst sin of all is the fact that we’re allowing people to come into this country and sell drugs and human traffic and do all these horrible things…”
And suddenly Trump’s answer wasn’t about Jussie Smollett at all, but instead about—you guessed it—a wall.
“If we had the simplicity of a well-constructed, beautiful barrier or wall, they wouldn’t be able to come into our country. That, to me, is the great sin, and everybody knows it works.”
Trump proceeded to discuss the morality of walls and their effectiveness for another two minutes without mentioning Smollett again.
People were disgusted by the callousness of Trump’s response.
— The Advocate (@TheAdvocateMag) January 31, 2019
He actually made this about the wall!! I don’t what to say
— Colbert Massie (@kingcolbe31) January 31, 2019
How did he make this about the wall??!!
— Micki Barnett Jacobs (@mediamicki) January 31, 2019
As part of trumps response he immediately launched into how the lack of a wall was making America suffer. Insupportable to tie anything to do with wall to Smollett sttack; except the fact it was commuted by MAGA supporters.
— Pugmother (@Pugmothersue) January 31, 2019
Hate and racism has gone up with this Loose Cannon in the Oval Office. I don't want to hear it sympathy he doesn't care
— 🌊Brett Cooper🌊🇺🇸 (@Lets_Git_R_Done) January 31, 2019
aaand back to the wall. The wall that will save America from EVERYTHING! Even racist homophobic attacks from homegrown white people!
— Butterfly (@NikShivLove) January 31, 2019
Some, however, were capable of sending sincere well wishes for Smollett.
Celebrities and politicians alike expressed outrage at the attackers while wishing Smollett a full recovery.
None of them made it about a wall.
There is no such thing as “racially charged.”
This attack was not “possibly” homophobic. It was a racist and homophobic attack.
If you don’t like what is happening to our country, then work to change it. It is no one’s job to water down or sugar-coat the rise of hate crimes. https://t.co/QAi0IYtSeR
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 30, 2019
DEAR GOD! Prayers and justice for Jussie Smollett.
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) January 29, 2019
WE LOVE YOU, @JussieSmollett ! ! !
— Janet Mock (@janetmock) January 29, 2019
— Zendaya (@Zendaya) January 29, 2019
I am so sorry to hear what happened to @JussieSmollett. It’s unacceptable. I hope he knows how many people are thinking of him and committed to holding this administration and its ilk accountable for this hothouse of hate being fostered.
— roxane gay (@rgay) January 29, 2019
The attackers remain at large.