When Elephants Fight, It is the Grass That Suffers

So the open secret that Harvey Weinstein is a vile swine and sex predator is out.  He’s been doing it for decades, lots of people knew it, and lots of people worked to cover it up. He was, says the Kansas Star, the Democrat Roger Ailes: a powerful bully people were terrified to cross, a rapist and a perv.  The people who protected and sucked up to him were largely on the Left.  Media types from the NY Times on down.  Matt Damon did his bit to silence incorrect thought.  So did Russell Crowe.  Bill and Hill and Barack all kept mum and showered him with encomiums as he showered them with money. Only now are the Streeps, Winslets, and Closes plucking up the guts to say something.

It’s not like they didn’t know. Lots of people knew:

Manhattan’s district attorney knew, too. In 2015, Weinstein’s lawyer donated $10,000 to the campaign of Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance after he declined to file sexual assault charges against the producer. Given the number of stories that have circulated for so long, Weinstein must have spread millions around New York, Los Angeles, and Europe to pay off lawyers and buy silence, including the silence of his victims. But he had something else going for him, too. He knew his victims would be reluctant to go public because it might suggest that some of their success, their fame even, was a function of their inability to protect themselves from being humiliated by a man who set the bar for humiliating others at the precise level of his own self-loathing.

One of the refrains you hear today from media experts and journalists is that they’d known about Weinstein’s transgressions for a long time. The problem, they say, was that no one was able to nail down the story.

Nonsense. Everyone had it, not just Waxman. Sure, reporters hadn’t been able to get any stars to go on the record. But that means the story journalists were pursuing wasn’t really about Weinstein’s sexual depredations. It means that what they wanted was a story about actresses, junior executives, or assistants who had been humiliated, maybe raped, and chose to remain quiet in exchange for money and/or a shot at fame.

Of course no one was going to get that on the record—very few journalists would even want to publish a story like that. But journalists always had the actual story of how a Hollywood producer humiliated and sexually assaulted women. How? Because he victimized journalists.

Fox News reporter Lauren Sivan told Huffington Post that a decade ago, Weinstein masturbated in front of her. She says she didn’t say anything at the time, when she was an anchor on a local cable show, because she was “fearful of the power that Weinstein wielded in the media.” She was right and her fear was understandable.

Writing in New York Magazine, Rebecca Traister remembers the time when she asked Weinstein an interview question at a book party, he screamed at her, spit in her face, called her a “c—t,” and then put her boyfriend in a headlock and dragged him to the street. Traister said nothing at the time because she figured she had little chance against “that kind of force.”

I don’t blame her or Sivan for not saying anything, never mind reporting the story. Weinstein is violent, vindictive, and litigious—as well as sexually abusive—facts that the entertainment and political media knew for years. No one wanted to publish that story. But that’s not the same thing as “not being able to nail it down.” “Nailing it down” would have amounted to nothing more than printing a collection of facts under a byline.

Violent, vindictive, litigious.  And so people kept their mouths shut out of terror for their careers.  What changed was not a sudden burst of courage (though some people, like Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd had the stones to say something) but the fact that Weinstein lost his grip on his power to hurt people who said something.  The media he controlled got away from him as the internet gutted his financial power and he lost the ability to twist nipples and grab groins, both literally and financially.  Loss of power meant loss of power to hurt and that meant people started speaking.

Some people at least.  As the Babylon Bee has noted, some voice have been remarkably mute in all this:

 

Late Night Hosts So Disgusted By Harvey Weinstein Scandal They Refuse To Even Mention His Name

 

This has, I repeat, been going on for decades. One editor at the NY Times did not see it as newsworthy because “he’s not a publicly elected official.” And of course, he has purchased some of the best feminist cred money can buy. So the correct thing was to ignore–and intimidate–the victims.

Indeed, in a thoroughly Clintonian move, Weinstein has wheeled out Authentic Female Donna Karan to perform the tried and true stunt of accusing his victims of being nuts and sluts–gold-digging liars who are just after the Great Man’s money and their 15 minutes of fame.

It’s all a bit a late for that given that his wife has dumped him and expressed pity for his victims and his former properties are erasing his memory faster than a Stalinist could airbrush Trotsky out of every photo with the Dear Leader.

Nope. The creepy old predator is toast. As somebody said, they are not erasing him from existence because they found out he was a sex predator. They are erasing his memory because we found out he was a sex predator. And the Hollywood culture that protected him for years is left trying to explain their cowardice and, worse still, their active cooperation in adding a second layer of victimization to each and every one of his victim’s lives. It’s much of a muchness with the year’s long protection of Bill Cosby and the vile persecution of his fifty plus victims.

What drove it? Money and power, of course. Weinstein could destroy your career and ruin you financially. So victims kept their mouths shut, bystanders looked the other way, and those with vest interests actively helped out in silencing those who might have an over-active conscience. Nothing personal. Strictly business. And besides, look at all the good he does for the arts, for sundry Correct Causes, and for the Right Sort of People. So shut up.

Filthy. Ugly. Dirty. Cowardly. What I expect from fallen man.

And then I turn to the response of the Christian Right and the Party of God and what do I find? Not empathy for the victims but elation at the hypocrisy of the Left. Turn to right wing site after right wing site and the festive atmosphere and fake dudgeon are everywhere Ho! Ho! Hillary? Busted! Obama? Busted! SNL? Busted! It’s Christmas in October! What a great day! Why? Because at long last we can deflect from the fact that the Leader of the Party of God, Family, and Life–our God-Anointed Constantine Donald Trump is a documented and self-confessed sex predator and let fly with some good fake outrage at Weinstein. His victims? Who cares? Let’s focus on some really good gloating at his enablers, our culture war enemies.

Now here’s the thing: I don’t expect people who profess no adherence to Christian morals to observe Christian morals. The servant who does not know his master’s will and does not do it will be beaten with few blows. But I do expect those who not only profess Christian morals but profess to represent them better than anybody on earth to observe Christian morals.

So the scandal to me is not that pagans have behaved like pagans, but that Super Christian Trump supporters have staunchly defended their fave sex predator for a year and are now greeting this story, not with outrage for the victims, but with delight that they finally have a Culture War enemy who can take the heat off Their Guy.

And they are busy doing exactly that and have done so since he confessed himself  a sex predator.  Recall, for instance, how Raymond Arroyo did a complete softball interview with our future Sex Predator-in-Chief a year ago and gave him a complete forum to lie through his teeth about his documented confession of sexual assault–sexual assault then confirmed by multiple victims:

Last night, EWTN aired an interview with Donald Trump, conducted by Raymond Arroyo, the host of their weekly news magazine show. The whole thing was not exactly surreal, but it was closer to that than to a standard journalistic interview. It had the feel of an audition: Not for Trump to be president, but for Arroyo to work at FOX News.

It is important to keep in mind that during the primaries, Trump showed up for interviews anywhere and anytime. Since the Republican convention and the arrival of Kellyanne Conway as his campaign manager, Trump mostly has limited his interviews to friendly hosts on FOX. Certainly, since the Billy Bush video leaked, Trump has not been available to do an interview on, say, “The Rachel Maddow Show” or even “Good Morning America.” So, last night’s interview on EWTN tells us something about how Republican operatives view Arroyo and EWTN: It is Catholic FOX, a place where you can pretend to ask the tough questions, but where the winking and nodding is almost palpable.

Arroyo opened the interview with a question about the women who have accused Trump of sexually assaulting them. “It’s all made up!” Trump asserted, explaining that many media outlets had definitively disproven the claims made by the accusers, although this claim is demonstrably untrue. Arroyo did not challenge him on the untruth he had just spoken, but he did ask a follow-up about people who still have doubts, and he referenced the Billy Bush video in his question. “Locker room talk” said Trump, an answer which has not satisfied many Americans these past couple of weeks but which apparently satisfied Arroyo. He moved on.

That was a year ago and there is no word for it then but “disgraceful”.  But nothing has changed.  Trump’s “grab ’em by the pussy” remarks were not “locker room talk”.  They were a confession of what he has done and the term for it is “sexual assault” just like Weinstein’s sexual assaults.  And yet by winks and nods and unchallenged lies, Arroyo very clearly conveyed to his audience that Trump’s behavior, while rascally, is perfectly fine and he wilfully gave them moral permission, not only to forget it, but to approve it as roguish and charming and (mark this) as proof that Trump’s  victims are liars.  And that programming delivered to Catholic Trump supporters, they have simply continued parroting it ever since.  You can go all over St. Blog’s to this day and hear the same tired rubbish that, while Trump is “flawed” (that’s the euphemism for “sex predator”) we have to support him because look at all the good he does for sundry Correct Causes, and for the Right Sort of People. So shut up.  In other words, opposition to abortion (or at least blabbering about it while his party refunds Planned Parenthood) taketh away the sins of the rapist.

The servant who knows his Master’s will and does not do it will be beaten with many blows. The one to whom much is given, much will be required. Weinstein is a swine and his silent defenders and open bullies are doing what I expect pagans to do: saving their miserable skins at the expense of victims.

But what conceivable defense can Christian Trump defenders–who most of them have no skins to lose and instead freely prostitute themselves to this predator–offer for joining in with the “nuts and sluts” attacks on his victims and with affirming his lies in denial of his sexual assaults?

I do not think Weinstein’s defenders helpless moral ciphers. I think them gutless cowards and/or victims (especially the women in the industry who stayed silent out of fear of destruction). But in the end, I don’t expect pagans to act out of noble self-sacrifice except in really exceptional cases. I expect, at most, some pagan virtues with a huge admixture of venal selfishness. That’s what I see in the Weinstein story and, while appalling, it is not surprising. Cowards bowed to a vicious bully and either kept quiet or played the party of the active toady, as you would expect.

What I never expected was the spectacle of the Religious Right, who I took seriously 20 years ago as disciples of Jesus, to lie their heads off for our Sex Predator-in-Chief and to greet this story with barely concealed delight since its victims are so useful, but with not actual interest in the victims beyond their utility in the Culture war.

Russell Moore is right: The Religious Right are the people the Religious Right warned us about 20 years ago. They could not care less about the victims of either Trump or Weinstein, nor of Clinton, except insofar as they are useful tools in a struggle for power. The stench of antichrist hangs around the whole thing and is nowhere more pungent than in the precincts of the Religious Power Broker in the court of Trump, trying to parlay this into a win for their favorite rapist. The victims, the only people who really matter in all this, are nothing but pawns in this spectacle.

In conclusion, here is my suggestion for making all this a little less disgusting and directing our gaze to where it belongs: Here is the Donor Page of Feminists for Life who, among other things, provide support for victims of sexual assault.  Instead of setting our eyes on earthly things, like the stupid contest of “which culture war hero is less rapey?” why not instead focus our energies on the victims of these creeps? Instead of rooting for either of the elephants, why not help the grass they trample instead?

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