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Slimantics: Who do you believe?

 

Slim Smith

 

 

A new day, a new claim of some prominent man faces charges of sexual harassment, abuse or assault. 

 

From Roy Moore to Bill Clinton to Al Franken to Donald Trump. From Harvey Weinstein to Roger Ailes. From Kevin Spacey to Louis C.K. 

 

Oh, and on Sunday's "Meet the Press," Rep. Jackie Speier (D, California) claims the US House of Representatives have spent $15 million over the past 10 to 15 years to settle sexual harassment claims filed against members of Congress. Somebody ought to look into that. 

 

Given all we are hearing, it's beginning to feel as though the one thing a guy can't do is keep his hands to himself, thank you very much. 

 

It's enough to make you give up on the male gender altogether. 

 

Among all these disturbing stories of abuse that are tumbling out on a daily basis, there is another disturbing pattern that has emerged. 

 

Question: Who do you believe? 

 

Answer: The person you want to believe. 

 

Were the subject not so appalling, it would almost be funny. 

 

One day, a person says the claims against Alabama Senator Roy Moore are the result of women making up lies to damage the Republican's campaign, Roy Moore is the victim. 

 

The next day, that same person is saying Al Franken is guilty, guilty, guilty and the woman who made the charge is the victim. 

 

One day, the "what-about-ism" is directed toward Donald Trump, against whom as many as 16 women have claimed to have been sexually abused/harassed/assaulted. Republicans clearly didn't believe those women. Trump is in the White House after all. What's wrong with Republicans, right? 

 

The next day, the "what-about-ism" turns to former President Bill Clinton, who was elected not once, but twice even as the same kinds of charges were lodged against him, both before and during his time in office. What's wrong with Democrats, right? 

 

This sort of hyper-hypocrisy isn't limited to sexual abuse, either. 

 

Right now, the validity of climate science relies on your political perspective. Literally, we can't even agree on the weather. 

 

It seems to be the whole damn country has gone madly partisan. I cannot at this moment point out one issue in the country that is not quickly defined as a partisan matter with Americans dutifully rushing to their appointed position, locked into their position, willfully oblivious to all arguments that do not support their partisan point of view. 

 

Who is the hero? Who is the victim? First, we need to know their politics. 

 

It's a fact-free world we seem to be living in now. 

 

We just don't want to hear it. 

 

It makes you wonder how we got into this mess. There was a day -- it seems so distant now -- that there were plenty of things you could decide without taking its political temperature first. As a result, things got done. 

 

But nothing is getting done now, and that's particularly true in Washington where Congress is locked in a death struggle, where compromise is capitulation and neither side has the strength to impose its will on the other. 

 

Who's the victim? 

 

Our nation and everyone who lives in it. Sooner or later, everybody's ox is the one that is gored and the facts have nothing to do with it. 

 

We cannot plead our case based on the truth, not because -- to borrow a movie line -- we can't handle the truth, but because we just don't want to hear the truth. 

 

We run from it, in fact. 

 

I don't know how we got here, which is OK because I'm sure we couldn't agree on that, either. 

 

And if we can't agree on how we got to such a sorry state of affairs, it's pretty futile think we'll agree on how to get out. 

 

This is how a democracy collapses. 

 

Can we agree on that?

 

Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is ssmith@cdispatch.com.

 

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