Kevin Hart criticized for telling Jussie Smollett to 'stand strong' after homophobic attack

Tuesday’s news that Empire star Jussie Smollett was attacked in what Chicago police are investigating as a suspected hate crime has prompted outrage and sadness from several high-profile figures, including Zendaya, Steve Harvey and Cher. Nancy Pelosi called it “an affront to our humanity,” while Emma Watson lashed out at the “ugly prejudice and bigotry behind this violence.”

Kevin Hart also voiced his disgust at the attack, during which police say the openly gay Smollett was subjected to racist and homophobic slurs while a noose was put around his neck and an “unknown chemical substance” was poured on him. Smollett also confirmed to police that his two attackers shouted, “MAGA country.”

Hart addressed the “unbelievably sad” attack in an Instagram post and a video posted to Instagram Stories, in which he decried society going “backwards.”

“We as people have to do better,” the comedian wrote. “WTF is going on the world???? Why are we falling in love with hate???? … I will forever choose love and I will continue to teach my kids how to do the same. Stand strong brother.”

Despite the seemingly heartfelt statement, Hart is facing new scrutiny over the homophobic jokes he made during old stand-up routines and on Twitter. The off-color remarks, in which Hart joked about discouraging his son from being gay, caused backlash that resulted in his stepping down from hosting this year’s Oscars ceremony. Ellen DeGeneres was also criticized for saying Hart should be given a “second chance.”

Hart’s critics say the attack on Smollett, a black gay man, illustrates why his homophobic jokes were so reviled.

 

 

 

 

 

Queer Eye co-host Jonathan Van Ness, meanwhile, responded to Hart’s Instagram post by offering a teaching moment — though some Hart fans accused him of picking on the Jumanji star.

‘Queer people need straight people to be very clear about why people choose hate; they chose hate because they don’t know better,” he wrote. “That’s why we need allies to call homophobia what it is by name and stand in solidarity in name with LGBTQ people.”

Others put it more bluntly.

 

 

PHOTOS: See Jussie Smollett on "Empire"

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Jussie Smollett on FOX's Empire
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Jussie Smollett on FOX's Empire
EMPIRE: L-R: Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett in the 'Treasons, Stratagems, and Spoils' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Nov. 14 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Taraji P. Henson and director Jussie Smollett in the 'What is Done' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Nov. 7 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Director Jussie Smollett behind the scenes in the 'What is Done' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Nov. 7 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Terrence Howard and director Jussie Smollett behind the scenes in the 'What is Done' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Nov. 7 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Jussie Smollett and Taraji P. Henson in the 'The Depth of Grief' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 31 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Jussie Smollett in the 'The Depth of Grief' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 31 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Bryshere Y. Gray and Jussie Smollett in the 'Love All, Trust a Few' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 17 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Y. Gray in the 'Pride' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 10 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Y. Gray in the 'Pride' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 10 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Jussie Smollett in the 'Pay For Their Presumptions' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 3 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Jussie Smollett, Bryshere Gray, and Trai Byers in the 'The Empire Unposessd' season finale episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, May 23 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Terrence Howard as Lucious Lyon, Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon, Bryshere Y. Gray as Hakeem Lyon, Jussie Smollett as Jamal Lyon and Trai Byers as Andre Lyon in Season Five of EMPIRE premiering Wednesday, Sept. 26 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Pictured L-R: Bryshere Gray, Jussie Smollett and Andre Royo in the 'Slave to Memory' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Dec. 13 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Pictured L-R: Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe and Jussie Smollett in the 'Bleeding War' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 18 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Pictured L-R: Terrel Carter and Jussie Smollett in the 'Evil Manners' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 11 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Pictured L-R: Jussie Smollett and Gabourey Sidibe in the 'Full Circle' episode of Wednesday, Oct. 4 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
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