Playing the Indian Card

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Weinstein and Trump

Anti-semitic Nazi cartoon: the Jewish doctor and the defenseless Aryan woman..

Why, I see some are asking, is Harvey Weinstein being given such a bad time over the sexual exploitation of women, but Donald Trump seems to be given a pass?

But any suggestion that the charges against Weinstein are politically motivated is absurd. Many right-wing figures have only recently been felled by similar accusations: Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly at Fox News; Bill Cosby. Until Weinstein it was looking as though it was left-wing figures who were being protected, and only those on the right taken to task.

We do not know, in fact, whether the charges against Weinstein are true. None have been tested in court. Nevertheless, the sheer volume and the many claims by others to have “always known” make it look convincing.

We do not have anything like this for Donald Trump. For Trump, according to the linked article, we have three women who are prepared to speak out; and perhaps a total of ten overall. One charges him only with kissing her. Another says he “aggressively propositioned her.” These charges themselves do not seem to meet the bar for a charge of assault. Another’s claims are refuted by a third party who claims to have been present.

Leaving aside prejudice against Trump, it doesn’t give us much to go on.

Hillary Clinton called Trump an “admitted sexual assaulter.” That is probably libelous, or would be in Canada or the UK. Presumably she is referring to the famous tape of him talking to Billy Bush. I read the transcript. The most he admits to is kissing women, and nothing implies this is clearly without consent. In the real world, of course, it is always difficult, when a man kisses a woman, to know whether she is fully in consent or not. But it is considered his obligation to make this first move. Ther is no way around this.

By contrast, it would not be libel to call Clinton’s husband a “known sexual predator.”

What Trump said to Bush on the secretly—and surely illegally—recorded conversation was boorish and crude. But there is no law against saying boorish things. Such matters are properly dealt with by social stigma. In Trump’s case, he faced a jury of 300 million of his peers. One may disagree with the verdict, but the matter has been dealt as such matters ought to be dealt with. He was exposed, and we have the result.

Anti-black cartoon, US, 1954.

There is an obvious problem here: first, any such accusations of sexual impropriety are almost inevitably the word of one person against another. Such things are done in private. So how can we tell who is speaking the truth? Second, if a man has a lot of money, or has an important public reputation, let alone both, there is a huge motive for just about anyone to bring a false charge. There might well be money in it, or fame. Third, because they can be so easily made, charges of sexual assault and rape have been the traditional weapon to use against prejudiced groups: Jews in Nazi Germany were commonly held to rape and seduce good Aryan girls; blacks in the US South were usually lynched on the same charge.

Accordingly, we should assume such charges are false unless there is some corroboration. Like Monica Lewinsky’s semen-stained dress.

I see one comment a lot: about how all men are to blame for allowing such things to go on. In the Guardian piece, the woman whose charges have been contradicted by another witness says “men needed to make it clear that Trump’s brand of ‘locker-room talk’ is unacceptable. It would be nice at this point if we started hearing from men on this issue, because it’s not one-sided.”

This is a statement of just such prejudice as is traditionally supported by the rape or sexual assault charge. I am guilty of what someone else did, because he is a man, and I am a man? That there is such obvious prejudice against men abroad in the land is a further important reason why we should doubt any such accusations.

From the Nazi press.

I suspect there is indeed a lot of real sexual exploitation going on. Sometimes it may be a matter of a man exploiting his power over women. Sometimes it may be a matter of a woman exploiting her power over men: an attractive woman, for example, offering her sexual favours to a boss for special preferment. Hard to guess, even if there is evidence of a sexual encounter, where the rights and wrongs fall. Avoiding such stuff is no doubt why, in many more traditional societies, and in ours until fairly recently, men and women were generally kept apart in the public square.

If some group is ultimately to blame for all this, then, it is surely those who have ended this segregation: the feminists. There was a reason for it all along. Surely they knew this?

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