(CNSNews.com) - CNN Political Commentator Van Jones called actor Jussie Smollett, the “Jackie Robinson against homophobia in the black community” because of the character he played on the TV show “Empire.”
“This is the fall of an icon, and I don’t think people understand how important he has been in the black community. ‘Empire’ as a show, to have him as a beloved character, I think did a great deal to knock back homophobia in the black community,” Jones said during a panel discussion after Chicago police held a press conference about the Smollett case.
“The fact that ‘Empire has been celebrated,’ the fact that he has been celebrated and you see homophobia in the black community through his eyes on the show, this is a Jackie Robinson against homophobia in the black community - an icon, a beloved icon - and now you have the fall of an icon at a time when we need icons, when we need heros, when we need people to stand up,” he said.
“So the level of betrayal - if this is true - is so deep. You can see it in your voice. You can see it in your face. It’s almost hard to get the words out because of how beloved he has been and how hurt we were when we thought that he had been hurt,” Jones said.
Former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke called Jones “the dumbest man on TV” for comparing Smollett to Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in major league baseball.
“@donlemon head this is your lucky day. You have been rescued from the title of THE DUMBEST MAN ON TV by Van Jones who compared @JussieSmollett to Jackie Robinson. I kid you not. Do not fret however. Jones will wear the crown with honor. Ask for a rematch!” Clarke tweeted Thursday.
As CNSNews.com reports, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollett sent a homophobic letter to himself and then staged a racist attack on himself, because he was unhappy with his salary.
Jones said he doesn’t want to rush to judgment about the Smollett case.
“And so I want to just say that we still don’t know everything, and I don’t want to see us rush to judgment on this side, rush to judgment on that side, condemn this, condemn that,” he said.
Jones said that whatever Smollett “is going through to do what he did has hurt the cause against racism and the cause against homophobia, if it’s true.”
“If there is any way that this can be redeemed, I hope it can be, but he owes those same young black gay men that he was addressing in that interview not just an apology, but a lifetime of atonement, because this ain’t nothing to play with. This ain’t nothing to play with, and if he was playing with it, shame on him,” he said.