Witnessing the ominous fallout from the criminal behavior and institutional protection of sexually flagrant puppeteering stars, Hollywood titans, media colleagues, politicians and business leaders on a daily basis makes one wonder: When is America going to grow up and cease with its unacceptable hypocritical behavior? Where is America’s moral compass and voice?
The floodgate of reports is almost “too much information.” The sordid tales feature graphic details that flout civil and decent behavior.
Now, we learn that a plethora of sexual harassment complaints have been filed since the 1970s on Capitol Hill to the tune of $15 million in settlements. The current complaint process demands non-disclosures from victims, preventing them from even telling their family. Demanding non-disclosures of victims should be outlawed. Who are we to demand that victims have no voices?
Lucy Cornell, a renowned voice coach in Sydney, Australia who trains professionals to find their voices (and one of my colleagues who fights human trafficking) says: “When we lose our voice, we lose our power and our ability to speak for our rights.”
America has lost its voice and, hence, its standing if we do not investigate our institutions. We profess to stand up, speak out, call for human rights, freedom of speech and protecting victims. We rail against violence and injustice, call for the protection of children, expose corruption, and yet, those who supposedly lead are constipated emotionally and morally. They lack the leadership to shift the paradigm on reality and truth to conquer these embedded social illnesses.
In the United States, some statistics suggest that one in five girls under 18 years of age are sexually molested; one in six boys under 18 are sexually molested.
Due to the creation of the internet, global cybercrime law enforcement officials claim child porn is off the charts, increasing exponentially in volume that surpasses law enforcement ability to nail all the maggots who perversely rape younger and younger children. Some of these victims are infants and toddlers.
The United States is a failed experiment if this recent tawdry display of disgust across our institutions does not lead to some healthy conversations and reversals of deplorable behavior.
Governments in Ireland, the United Kingdom and Australia have held public inquiries into the institutional response to child abuse. The Catholic Church scandals served as the catalyst and expanded into other parts of society. In Australia, the National Inquiry into the Institutional Response to Child Abuse expanded into sports and educational institutions as well as religious. In December 2017, the Australian Commonwealth will release its final report.
It is time for America to dig deep into its own institutions. This is a pivotal moment in our national conversation because this cultural train wreck can no longer be ignored. The United States needs to commission its own national inquiry into responses by our institutions to child abuse and sexual harassment. It may be the only positive notion that evolves from these flamboyantly crude tales of rape, sexual harassment and ghoulish criminal behavior.
This national sordid saga lays bare how morally vacuous our institutions are and, more importantly, how massively hypocritical American society is. We don’t care enough to tell a fat ugly Hollywood bloke who wheeled and dealt an illusion of pathological power “Go to hell” — when it was widely known he was abusive. We don’t tell talented celebrities: “Stop playing your chicken games on young male children.” We don’t send the likes of O’Reilly and Ailes a mirror with a lipstick scrawl: “When is the last time you looked in the mirror, darling?”
What hit me over the last couple of months is: No wonder Bill Clinton thought he could get away with his tawdry behavior in the Oval Office. No wonder Hillary Clinton blamed her husband’s behavior on the right wing and said so — unapologetically on national television in January 1998. No wonder New York agents in 1998 made calls hoping to get journalists to write a book on the conservatives’ philandering during the height of the Clinton/Lewinsky drama.
A lot more people knew more years ago just like today.
We all must face the dragons in our midst and dive deep into our institutions. We have silenced voices by our collective acts of commission and omission. A “no boundaries” stance is the devil’s argument. America needs to finally find its voice and claim loudly that this inhumane behavior is not only unacceptable, but intolerable in civilized society.
But now is no time for women to think they are the only ones engulfed by this abuse. There are no lines of demarcation. We have millions of children at risk, a younger generation thinking this may be normal because it is so embedded in our culture.
We need to address these fallen institutions that protect predators, and collective predatory demands that institutionalize a charade that in order to survive, one must be silenced. We are all responsible for this decay because we have become bystanders and inauthentic activists numbed by what it really takes to turn the tide of history and redefine what it means to be humane, decent and own our own voice, and lift up those who have been silenced.
No one on earth should be commodified, sold, coerced, raped, harassed, groomed by a pervert or turn their head away in shame when the safety threads of society are ripped because society lacks a voice of moral courage. If someone lacks the courage to tell someone to stop, or lacks the physical strength to get someone off them, and others know, the others who know have a moral duty to speak up for those who are traumatized. If we cannot meet that moral duty, then we need to admit we have no voice collectively in our society.
The only compassionate response to moral failures like Harvey Weinstein is: “What in the world happened to all these perverts that they thought their actions were normal human behavior to act like coercive and pathetic barbarians? Are they totally devoid of empathy and compassion?”
During the South African Truth and Reconciliation hearings, Bishop Desmond Tutu had the insight to ask torturers if they remembered the faces of their victims. They said “No,” and then he introduced them to their victims who never forgot their faces. A lesson that Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Roy Moore and the like need to grasp (if the allegations against them are true), and the rest of us needs to embrace.
George Clooney had it right. I too want to know who are the predatory goons, who took the women as sheep to the slaughter to Wolf Harvey, when he was not pushing through their doors? Weinstein is as finished as Rep. Anthony Weiner. So is Bill Clinton. So is his friend, Kevin Spacey. So is their friend, Jeffrey Epstein. So are the enablers like Hillary Clinton and the legendary lawyers who protect predators for profit. Hopefully, so even are those who profit off the predators.
America sold its soul to fame, power, money and celebrity long ago. It started well before 25 years ago for those of us old enough to remember. And, with it, we bought mediocrity on a gargantuan scale. We lost our courageous footing spiritually.
Look at what we created and now export to the world: the Kardashians, one of the more narcissistic products in America. They exemplify a butt and boob show. We shop our selfies like we are our own brands on Madison Avenue. We reveal the mundane shallow notes of our life on social media. We expose our own irrefutable dumbing-down by spouting know-nothing opinions. We turned politics into a gladiators’ fight over lies and corruption. Both sides of politics — all sides — are engulfed in hypocrisy.
As the wax is melted on our institutions, we must face the truth. We must ask ourselves what we are all fighting for. Seems to me, we have lost the battle of leaving the world a wee bit better than we found it.
Now is the time for us to immerse ourselves in reflection. We have settled for mediocrity, for an illusion of truth — and, now, the swamp is broader and deeper than the swamp recognized.
America needs to reflect and find its moral voice. We all need to fight for the silenced voices. That is what it will take to fight the national shame of exploiting one another. We own this national shame by our own acts of omission as well as commission. We must create the space for the silenced to feel safe to raise their voices. If we do not, we contribute to a national shame of cultural complicity.
And, for those who cite Scripture, and go along with hypocrisy: Get a grip. Jesus was a radical who would throw us all out of these institutions and demand we face the truth.
Christine Dolan is a broadcast and print journalist, and former political director at CNN. She has covered human trafficking globally for the last 18 years.