Sexual predators and the trash heap of history

It seems a lot of powerful men are having to face the fact that they’re sexist pigs. Some may even be rapists.

Maybe they thought it was all fun and games, but now they are being confronted with a new age of feminism in which unwanted sexual advances can get you ostracized, or prosecuted.

For the women who have put up with such behavior over the years, this day of reckoning is long overdue. Now, they’re confronting the problem, publicly and head-on. The rash of sexual harassment and assault allegations has been rolling in like thunder.

I suppose the Bill Cosby case started an avalanche. Maybe the allegations against The Donald didn’t stick, and Fox is still standing after the comeuppance Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly received, but none of that put anything to rest. By the time the Harvey Weinstein case came around, the floodgates were opened.

As a heterosexual male, I was slow in picking up on just how bad it has been for some women. I’ve never been sexually harassed or attacked, nor am I known for my sensitivity, so I guess I was insulated me from the severity of the issue. But the social media initiative #MeToo and some personal conversations with women I know helped me see just how rampant sexual harassment and assault is. But any dramatic transformation in my perspective I’ve had over the years has been, in large part, because of raising two daughters.

I adore each of them, though I haven’t always understood them. But I do know this: I’ve never wanted them to be intimated by or fearful of me or any other man, and my hopes and dreams for them have always included the advantages I’ve enjoyed. I insist they be treated with respect, and I want full equality for them.

For men who have sexually assaulted someone, prison time is well deserved. And for men who have been too forward, too aggressive or predatory, for those who have harassed women just because they have the power to do so, some soul-searching and a sincere apology are the least they can do.

It’s tough admitting you’re wrong. So tough, in fact, that from some men it’s just never going to happen.

President Trump is, obviously, one of those men. There’s ample evidence that he’s been a user and abuser of women pretty much all of his adult life, yet trying to make him admit to wrongdoing is sort of like trying to get a compulsive liar to tell the truth. Actually, it’s exactly like that, but I digress …

The president is not a moral leader in any way, and by now you’d think even his supporters can see that. They can blame it on the liberal media if they want, but the truth is, he’s a bully with a predatory disposition. Anyone without blinders on can see that.

For conservatives with genuine moral underpinnings, Trump may represent their political agenda but not their moral convictions, and that makes it difficult for them.

For more and more Republicans these days, they’re feeling compelled to speak out. Some are standing up to his divisive diatribes. Men like Jeff Flake, Bob Corker and John McCain—Republican senators all, though the rebellion among the conservative ranks doesn’t stop there—are saying “enough” to his bad behavior, and history will judge them with a softer touch because of it.

That won’t be true for a lot of other people, though. They’ll be left in the trash heap of history, having supported Trump for far too long. Some have been seduced by power, others coerced by corrupt thinking, or maybe they’re just too stubborn in what they want to believe to see through Trump’s smoke-and-mirrors.

History will not be kind to those who blindly support the man-child we now have in the White House.

Trump’s presidency is on the road to disaster, and history will record the damage, the collusion and the division he created along the way. If the nation ever recovers from his moment in power, he’ll be viewed with disdain. Or, if we don’t recover, we’ll remember his presidency as the beginning of the end of a once-great nation.

Perhaps someday, when the complete history of the Trump presidency has been written, someone—perhaps a child, or your grandchild—will ask: What did you do when this nation’s better values were being torn apart? Did you speak out? What did you say?

For those who are being complicit, I say this: It’s tough to admit when you’re wrong, but that’s still better than being relegated to the trash heap of history.

Tom McDonald is editor of the New Mexico Community News Exchange and writes this column for newspapers around the state. He can be reached at tmcdonald@gazettemediaservices.com.