In the West, we’re not merely living at present through savage culture wars. We’re not merely experiencing a terrifying eruption of anti-Semitism in supposedly civilized countries. We are being subjected to a manipulation of reality that could have been scripted by Franz Kafka.

The gay, black actor Jussie Smollett claimed that he was set upon in Chicago, after buying a sandwich in the middle of a pulverizingly cold night last month, by attackers who yelled racial and homophobic slurs, shouted “this is MAGA country,” poured an unknown chemical over him and placed a noose around his neck.

This bizarre account was then said to have been a hoax, with Smollett reportedly having paid two men to orchestrate an assault on him. He denied this; but now he has been charged with filing a false police report and disorderly conduct.

A lot of people now find themselves under an uncomfortable spotlight.

From the start, it was clear that Smollett’s story was far-fetched and inconsistent. Yet it was instantly leapt upon as unchallengeably true.

Democrat presidential hopeful Cory Booker tweeted that it was “an attempted modern-day lynching.” The Washington Post’s “identity politics” reporter Eugene Scott wrote that Smollett’s “experience” was “far too common for black gay men, particularly those who speak out against racism and sexism.”

Others said it showed the ugly truth of U.S. President Trump’s America. Actress Ellen Page urged people to “connect the dots,” accusing Trump and Vice President Mike Pence of hating gay people and wanting to cause them suffering.

Anyone who questioned Smollett’s story was denounced as a hate-monger.

The truth of this episode has yet to be resolved. Yet more broadly, there has been a huge number of hoaxes and fraudulent claims about hate crimes that have been seized upon as true despite clear evidence to the contrary.

Last September, Christine Blasey Ford could recall few of the circumstances surrounding the sexual assault she said to have endured as a teenager at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh, who was being nominated as a justice of the Supreme Court. The Senate Judiciary Committee found not enough evidence for her claim.

Yet despite this, her story was not only widely believed, but anyone who questioned it was accused of endorsing male violence against women.

Last month, as a result of selectively edited video footage, boys from Covington Catholic High School demonstrating against abortion and wearing MAGA caps were accused of racially abusing an elderly Native American. The boys were subjected to hate campaigns; the school even had to close for a day following the incident. When the full video was revealed, however, the boys were found to have been themselves the victims of abuse and intimidation by another group on the scene.

And let’s not overlook the unprecedented attempt to prove that Trump had colluded with Russia to “steal” the presidential election he subsequently won.

Not only has no such evidence at all been discovered. Evidence has steadily emerged that elements of the FBI and Justice Department and other officials used the Hillary Clinton campaign’s opposition “research” to mount an unlawful spying operation on team Trump in order to abort his presidency.

The former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, who was fired last year after being said by the Inspector General to have “lacked candor, including under oath, on multiple occasions,” has now claimed in a book and associated interviews that he plotted with others in the FBI to remove the president by any means necessary.

These astounding claims have been largely pooh-poohed or ignored. For as with many left-wing causes, factual evidence is dismissed as irrelevant.

This is because whichever issue underpins the left’s uproar of the day constitutes a “fact” that is as incontrovertible as a papal bull under the medieval Inquisition.

So Blasey Ford had to be believed because of the incontrovertible “fact” that Kavanaugh was anti-abortion and therefore had to be stopped at all costs from being appointed to the Supreme Court.

The Covington boys had to be abusers because of the incontrovertible “fact” that Trump supporters in MAGA caps go out looking for minorities to beat up.

Even now, McCabe is still claiming with no evidence whatever that it’s possible that Trump is a Russian asset.

Asked about the claims that the Smollett story was a hoax, Booker doubled down. “Bigoted and biased attacks” were seriously on the rise, he said, and most terrorist attacks since 9/11 had been “right-wing,” a majority of them “white supremacist attacks.” So he avoided the issue of truth and swerved back instead to his overriding agenda: bashing the right.

Meanwhile, real attacks on Jews are being ignored. On the night that Smollett claimed he was attacked, a Jewish man in New York was beaten up by three thugs.

The NYPD reports that more than twice as many hate crimes—most of them against Jews—occurred last month as in January last year. Last October, The New York Times reported there had been four times as many crimes against Jews as against black people, while anti-Jewish hate crimes outnumbered those against transgender people by a factor of 20.

This receives virtually no attention. That’s because anti-Semitism is a bigotry that’s prevalent on the left and among the groups it favors. So it gets in the way of the narrative that reframes reality to accord with left-wing shibboleths.

Such falsifications are justified on the grounds that they illustrate a “broader truth.” But they are in fact lies.

And the really mind-bending thing is that these are deployed to demonstrate the user’s moral superiority. For many on the left create right-wing monsters merely to prove their own virtue and make themselves unchallengeable.

That’s why Washington Post editorial board assistant Nana Efua Mumford said she was broken-hearted to discover the Smollett story was almost certainly a hoax.

“The incident,” she mourned, “would be touted as proof that there is a leftist conspiracy to cast Trump supporters as violent, murderous racists. It would be the very embodiment of ‘fake news.’ And that reason, more than any other, is why I need this story to be true … ”

And it’s why American Jews who vote Democrat are muted or silent about the virulent anti-Semitism of people like Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan or Democrat congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

Having told themselves falsely that Trump is a mortal threat to Jews, black people or Muslims, they cannot bring themselves to acknowledge that the most dangerous enemies of the Jewish people are on their own side—and that it’s Trump who is their target, not the other way round.

Hoaxes are a kind of false flag operation to cast as villains the victims of such attacks. They are a hallmark of Soviet communism’s strategy of psychological warfare in creating a looking-glass world where nothing is what it seems.

Israel is a prime victim of this hoax politics. The whole Palestinian narrative—cooked up originally by Yasser Arafat in cahoots with the former Soviet Union—is a false flag operation, a hoax that falsely blames its Israeli victim of appalling crimes of which it is innocent but of which the Palestinian perpetrator is itself guilty.

Hoax politics is an example of cultural totalitarianism that fries the brain and creates a climate of political, intellectual and moral chaos.

It’s why so many of us feel that the world has spun off its axis of reason altogether. And it’s why the whole anti-Israel and anti-Jew pathology that has erupted in the West is part of a broader and devastating cultural nervous breakdown.

Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a column for JNS every two weeks. Currently a columnist for “The Times of London,” her personal and political memoir, “Guardian Angel,” has been published by Bombardier, which has also published her first novel, “The Legacy,” released in April 2018. Her work can be found at her website, www.melaniephillips.com.