The story of Jussie Smollett and the implausible hate crime attack against him is now familiar to nearly everyone.

Smollett, a little-known actor on a long-running Fox television show, claimed to have been walking down the street minding his own business at 2 a.m. in downtown Chicago when he was attacked by two white Trump supporters wearing red "Make America Great Again" hats who made reference to his race (he is black), his sexual orientation (he is gay), and the obscure television show on which he appeared. The attackers allegedly placed a noose around his neck and threw bleach at him, informing him that "this is Trump country." Had any of this actually happened, it might have been the first time in human history that anyone ever said such a thing of downtown Chicago.

Smollett, somehow managing to escape this unlikely incident with his life, called his agent, clothesline noose still dangling around his neck, and told his implausible tale. In reality, he knew both of his attackers, two Nigerian brothers (both black) who testified against him at trial and whose account is completely borne out by all of the video surveillance and GPS and phone records that police were able to unearth.

The brothers say that Smollett paid them to attack him — indeed, he wrote them a check. There are text messages between them, and there is even video of Smollett taking the two through a dry run of the staged crime the day before it happened.

If not for the abundance of video evidence showing all of this, a lot of extremely credulous people would still be saying that Smollett was the victim of a hate crime, as if downtown Chicago in 2019 was practically the same as the Birmingham, Alabama, of 1959.

We might excuse the media's credulity about Smollett by pointing out that real, authentic hate crimes do happen. But the entire trouble with woke ideology is that the performance, not the reality, is always the point. Wokeness is all about people who are not really offended conspicuously taking grave offense at things that are not intended to be offensive and are usually not, in fact, offensive. What people might have dismissed just a decade ago with no more than an eye roll or a shrug of the shoulders has become fashionable today to turn into an existential crisis for oneself.

Why? Because it makes people with empty lives and empty heads feel more important about themselves.

This mindset produces the Jussie Smolletts of the world — and there are many of them. The number of faked hate crimes on college campuses is so great that, taken at face value, they would make academic communities some of the world's most backward and dangerous places on Earth. (In some sense, perhaps they are.)

Between all the incidents turned into offense-taking opportunities (it is especially trendy to find some kind of rope and decide it's a noose) and the incidents that are elaborately staged by the supposed victims (this commonly involves vandalizing one's own car or residence, writing anonymous threatening notes to oneself, or placing threatening imagery in public), the world of fake hate crimes is far more vast than most people want to admit.

Then again, such crimes are never truly fake. Their perpetrators act with the cruel intention of terrorizing entire communities and making people, usually members of minority groups, needlessly live in fear of their neighbors. What is that if not an act of hate?

The truth is that today's America is generally a good and gentle place. Its people, though imperfect, are mostly of goodwill. There is far more demand for racist incidents from self-promoters such as Smollett than there is actual hatred to supply them with — that's why the hatred often has to be manufactured.

What's more, the civil rights movement achieved incredible, historic success in making racial equality a matter of law, meaning that courts and law enforcement have the tools to stop racism and discrimination where they crop up. This fact stands in contravention of the hate-filled doctrine of critical race theory, which holds that the civil rights movement failed, leaving today's America no better than the Jim Crow South.

In Smollett's case, a hate-filled individual made an elaborately calculated fabrication intended to terrorize black people in hopes of making them live in needless fear for their lives and safety. This makes Smollett a hate criminal whose ill intentions are identical to those of any cross-burning klansman. The fact that he also tried to frame Trump voters for his own evil is almost beside the point, but it helps illustrate the hatred that suffuses his worldview.

Leniency would be inappropriate for someone who behaved with so much malice aforethought and who shows so little remorse after being caught red-handed. Please make an example of Smollett and give him the maximum sentence possible.