There’s a sickness spreading across America, infecting those of all political affiliations, and destroying their critical thinking abilities. It saw rapid growth late Tuesday night after the Alabama election. In an opinion piece titled “Thank You, Alabama,” The Washington Post showed the first signs that this virulent disease may, in fact, be terminal.
“In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate,” reads the opening line. The article goes on to thank Alabamans for not being bigots, while at the same time calling them all bigots – but that’s just what we’ve come to expect from such a “trusted news source.”
No, the real issue that should sound warning bells in every reader’s mind is not their clear leftist bias, but in how they present the reason for Moore’s loss. Liberty Nation’s Tim Donner examined a number of possible reasons that Alabamans sent their first Democrat to the Senate in 25 years, and is spot on in his assessment of the primary factor:
“The race in Alabama turned not on ideology, but on Roy Moore as Exhibit A of the issue of the year: sexual misconduct. There is little doubt that Moore would have won this election but for the nine, count ‘em, nine allegations of inappropriate conduct with teenagers which came pouring in after Moore won the GOP primary.”
Where Mr. Donner acknowledges the fact that Moore lost because of allegations without assuming guilt, The Post seems to suggest the accusations themselves prove Moore’s guilt.
The New American Witch Craze
For those unfamiliar with the history of the Salem witch trials, The Smithsonian provides a brief history.
To sum it up, people – mostly women – were accused of witchcraft for numerous reasons. These charges were often investigated – though not in a way that makes sense to most modern folk. Officials accepted reports of strange behavior and even dreams as damning evidence. Every little sin or act that was frowned upon by the neighbors was a sure sign of a deal with the Devil. Being a known associate of anyone accused of dark practices could and often did result in a sort of chain reaction of allegations. After all, if you know and associate with a witch, then there’s a good chance you’re one too, right?
Unlike the allegations of evil magic use from centuries ago, at least some of the claims of sexual misconduct are almost certainly real – there is, after all, substantial evidence for some. However, it is becoming quite clear that the nation slips deeper into yet another dangerous “witch craze” with each allegation that is immediately treated by the public, the media, and other politicians as true.
Don’t Victim Blame; Women Don’t Lie
Why has the sexual misconduct craze taken so firm a hold so quickly? Well, much like the witch craze of yesteryears, it comes from a place of extreme emotion. Even false allegations imagined up at the moment of accusation and supported with absolutely no evidence are effective. They play on strong emotions, such as fear of being victimized and a desire to protect others from such monsters.
Perfectly valid questions are considered additional assaults. “What evidence can you provide?” or “Why didn’t you speak up sooner?” is met with “Don’t blame the victim. She’s been through enough already.” LN’s Laura Valkovic addresses the difference between actual victim blaming and promoting victimhood:
“Victim blaming” apparently refers to any response to a harassment scandal that doesn’t immediately condemn the accused. Simply asking the question “if you knew, why didn’t you do anything?” is called victim blaming. But it isn’t blame – it’s just a question, and a reasonable one.
Let’s remove the emotional component for a moment. If person A accuses person B of some wrongdoing but gives little or no evidence, do we immediately punish or demand some apology and reparations from person B? But what if Person A is a man? Would we believe him because he claims to be a victim and is a man?
Treating a woman’s charge that a man sexually abused her as all the proof required merely because she claims to be a victim and happens to be a woman is only valid if we accept the premise that she is incapable of lying because of her gender.
What would happen if several men accused a female politician of sexual abuse? Would we “blame the victims” by asking for proof, or demand that she resign immediately and insist on an investigation if she refuses?
Victims’ Rights Must be Protected
The idea behind “don’t blame the victim” is noble. Real victims should not be punished for coming forward. They are still people and still have rights. They should be protected. The problem with the situation we have today is that it’s often unclear who the victim is. If any given accuser is telling the truth, then she’s the victim. If, however, she is lying, then her alleged molester is the victim. People shouldn’t have to face punishment for crimes they didn’t commit.
We must be careful in how we respond to allegations. Maybe they’re true, but perhaps they aren’t. The burden of proof is supposed to fall on the accuser specifically to prevent false accusations from being used to deal with enemies.
It’s Time to Wake Up
The Salem witch trials only lasted from 1692 to 1693, and the colony did eventually admit that they were wrong and compensated the families. But that doesn’t change the fact that 200 people had been charged with witchcraft, 19 had been hanged, and a 71-year-old man had been pressed to death.
Today’s craze has already cost people (some of whom may have been innocent) their careers, relationships, and even health. Wednesday, it claimed a life. How many more potentially innocent people must suffer undue consequences before the nation recognizes the madness into which it has descended and wakes up?