My latest Al Jazeera English Op-Ed is up. It draws on material about conservative victimology ratios that I first discussed at Open Left, but it starts out dealing wth latest concrete mega-example that’s been in the news the past few weeks. It begins like this:
Herman Cain and the Conservative Victimology Ratio
Herman Cain’s claim that he’s the real victim reflects a wide-ranging conservative belief with profound consequences.
As Herman Cain’s candidacy has begun to falter – like Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry before him – at least there’s an important lesson to be learned from the counter-attacks on those accusing him of sexual harassment. These come, not just from Cain itself – “the Democrat machine in America has brought forth a troubled woman to make false accusations” – but also, more extremely, from supporters in the conservative movement who have attacked victims of sexual harassment more generally, and even the very concept of harassment itself.
“I’m the victim here,” has been Cain’s rallying cry, invoking the memory of Clarence Thomas, who claimed to be the victim of a high-tech lynching. But outside of conservative circles, history has not been kind to that line of argument. Not only do most now believe that Thomas did harass Anita Hill, the over-the-top “high-tech lynching” charge never did make any sense. A lynching is a way of circumventing the legal process, ignoring the evidence, rushing to judgment and destroying a human life. But in Thomas’s case, the only threat he faced was that of not being confirmed, still leaving him on the second-highest court in the land.
What’s more, it was Thomas himself, with his dramatic, but unfounded accusation, who was seeking circumvent the standard legal process, suppress evidence and rush to judgment – one that would favour him, rather than his accusers. Yes, there were other accusers in addition to Anita Hill. And Thomas had help in suppressing their testimony, most notably from Vice-President Biden, then head of the Judiciary Committee, who was all in a hurry to wrap things up quickly. Nor were we allowed to hear about the extent of Thomas’ obsession with pornography, a pattern of behaviour that made Hill’s accusations far more credible. Nor, for that matter, did we know for certain that Thomas had already lied under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee, when he claimed to have never really thought about Roe vs. Wade. (A sympathetic conservative biographer conclusively judged that he had a decade ago.)
For the entire op-ed, click here.