Fool On The Hill

Yesterday, the New York Times published an op-ed by former Obama chief of staff, now Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, laying claim to having begun the successful reform of the Chicago police department. The Chicago Tribune replied with an editorial calling bullshit. The reason is clear: Emanuel, in the midst of his farewell tour, having announced that he would not be running for another term, has fabricated his success out of whole cloth. It’s a lie. It’s revisionist history. It is bullshit.

Today, the New York Times has published another lie, this time by Anita Hill. I have no clue what happened between her and Clarence Thomas. I remember well watching Thomas’ confirmation hearing. I recall being grossed out by Hill’s testimony about a pubic hair on her can of Coke. I was no fan of Thomas, and believed he was singularly inadequately distinguished to serve on the Supreme Court.

But Hill’s testimony, disturbing though it was, failed to doom the nomination for an obvious reason. She could have taken action against Thomas, proved her claim and prevailed. Instead, she did nothing, save made excuses for her failure to act. That was 1991, decades before people forgot that mouthing untested accusations was absurdly inadequate to prove they were wronged.

If the Senate Judiciary Committee, led then by Mr. Biden, had done its job and held a hearing that showed that its members understood the seriousness of sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence, the cultural shift we saw in 2017 after #MeToo might have began in 1991 — with the support of the government.

Anita Hill is a law professor. For her to conflate sexual harassment with sexual violence suggests she shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near law or students. It’s wrong. It’s false. Whether this suggests Hill is deluded, dishonest or dumb isn’t clear, but one thing she accomplishes now that didn’t happen in 1991 is that her own words do nothing to enhance her retrospective credibility.

Indeed, the front online page link to her op-ed, written apparently by the Times’ 12-year-old headline writer, sums up the fortitude of Hill’s intellect. Apparently, an adult changed the headline on the op-ed page to the far less ridiculous, Anita Hill: Let’s Talk About How to End Sexual Violence; That’s the most important conversation right now.

Hill sees #MeToo as vindication of her accusations, and sees herself as the mother, or perhaps grandmother, of the movement.

Thousands of women and many men have shared with me their stories of being sexually harassed since my testimony 28 years ago. These stories are especially troubling because they are so common. Yet they had long gone unseen, with the public viewing behavior from sexual extortion to sexual assault as a personal issue to be dealt with in private.

Was the “public” to blame? Hardly. Assuming this to be true, then blame falls on every person who made the decision to do nothing. If an offense was committed, they could have, should have, come forward at the time and acted upon it. Their accusation would have been tested, as all accusations should be, and some would fail, whether because they didn’t happen, and others would fail because they weren’t wrongs except in the sad feelings of hurt or regret.

Back in 1991, it wasn’t enough that a woman’s feelings were hurt to establish that an offense occurred. Also back in 1991, women still aspired to equality rather than fragility. Rather than cry about the emotional extortion of sex, strong women just refused and told men to shove it. Those were the days.

As the #MeToo revelations laid bare the truth of the overwhelming size of the problem, victims dared hope that our political leaders would take up the challenge of confronting it.

The empowerment of women, like Hill, to accuse with impunity, to never be expected to prove the veracity of their accusations, to be believed no matter what, was the goal of this forsaken movement. The government provides a wealth of ways in which sex offenses can be addressed, from crimes* to civil causes of action to administrative complaints. That some, like the “millions” whom Hill believes bolster her claim, have chosen to do nothing to avail themselves of these mechanisms is their fault alone.

Each accusation stands, or falls, on its own merit. Was it a crime, or even the vagary of sexual harassment, or was it behavior that offended some woman who didn’t care for the way a man behaved? In the world of #MeToo complaints, they’re all the same, wrapped up in empty rhetoric that neither informs as to the wrongfulness of the offense nor proves anything more than a woman complained about it.

Just as Rahm Emanuel wants to revise the history of his term as mayor to pretend that he wasn’t at the wheel while the Laquan McDonald video was deliberately concealed, Anita Hill wants to revise history to use a million vapid and unproven complaints now to show she was telling the truth in 1991. It doesn’t work that way. Not for either of them.

A million sad stories that evaded the means by which society tests accusations of wrongful conduct don’t make them proven. And it surely doesn’t make Anita Hill’s story any more credible than it was when she told it to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her call now to ignore evidence and due process, to deny those accused of any ability to challenge the sad stories of a million women, isn’t a testament to Anita Hill’s credibility or strength. It’s a reflection on how people have succumbed to the evisceration of proof, of due process, or the means by which every accusation gets tested before we decide to baselessly believe or not.

If someone refuses to put their accusation to the test by using the means our society has crafted to do so, she has no one to blame but herself.

Despite the grim reality, I remain hopeful, knowing how far we’ve come. If we acknowledge the severity of the problem and demand processes in which all sexual harassment and assault survivors are heard and not dismissed or punished for coming forward, our leaders will step up.

We have the processes. We had the processes in 1991. Hill doesn’t want processes. She wants “survivors” to be believed, full stop. And she wants to be adored as the unproved victim, so beloved today, when no “survivor” should ever be expected to meet the patriarchal and misogynistic demands of having their accusations questioned. Like Rahm, she’s given real estate in the New York Times to reinvent history. Unlike Rahm, few will call bullshit on her lie.

*If the police fail to act upon a criminal complaint, that presents a police problem which stands apart from the existence of a mechanism to address rape or sexual assault. It does not mean the mechanism doesn’t exist.

29 thoughts on “Fool On The Hill

  1. Richard Kopf

    SHG,

    You write that Ms. Hill is a law professor. It may be more correct to say that she teaches lawish subjects to Brandeis students. Brandeis does not have a law school.

    From her most recent profile at the University, here are the courses she says she has taught:

    HS 200a Social Justice and the Obama Administration
    HS 273f Law and Social Justice: Gender Equity Policies and Litigation
    HS 528f Law and Social Justice: Constructions of Race and Ethnicity and Their Consequences

    By the way, my comment certainly does not mean to imply that I disagree with your suggestion that “she shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near law or students.” In my frail mind, the foregoing amplifies what you have written.

    All the best.

    RGK

    1. WFG

      So she’s not a law professor–she’s a professor of social just-ish.

      Try the veal; don’t forget to tip your waiter.

          1. Richard Kopf

            LY,

            Only the French (and SHG) eat foie gras. Real men eat baby calves as WFG properly suggests.

            All the best.

            RGK

            1. Skink

              I dream of the day a calf gets whacked on the road. Sadly, Spring is possum-runnin’-over-time.

            2. LocoYokel

              Size limit, I throw the babies back and let them grow up enough to give a good brisket for BBQ or pastrami.

  2. Skink

    Sure, she’s rewriting her history, making the media rounds to do it. But she ain’t alone: Joe’s out there too:

    “During an appearance on Good Morning America set to air this week, Biden offered one of his most forthright acknowledgments of his role in the hearings yet. ‘As the committee chairman, I take responsibility that she did not get treated well. I take responsibility for that,’ Biden said in an interview with Robin Roberts.”

    During her tour, Anita said that wasn’t enough–everyone gets an apology:

    “ ‘The focus on apology to me is one thing,’ she told The Times. ‘But he needs to give an apology to the other women and to the American public because we know now how deeply disappointed Americans around the country were about what they saw. And not just women. There are women and men now who have just really lost confidence in our government to respond to the problem of gender violence.’ ”

    Put together, it looks like the formulation of the New Joe. Maybe too much time deep in the Swamp, but I’m twinging that there’s more to this than the obvious. A few years ago, it would have been far more impossible than now, but running mates?

    1. SHG Post author

      I just checked my post again. Still, the only mention of Biden was in her quote of his historical role as chair of the Judiciary Committee. “Why,” I asked myself, “would his name not otherwise appear if this was about Joe Biden running for the Democratic nomination for president today?”

          1. Guitardave

            Yule Brenner, pioneer in manscaping….Jeez, I’ve seen more hair than that on a piece of bacon… strike that….on a Coke can.

  3. Pedantic Grammar Police

    “That’s the most important conversation right now.”

    Like every good person must, I agree that believing every marginalized victim and punishing every accused perpetrator for whatever they might have done, without worrying about silly things like evidence or due process, is extremely important, and I will diligently participate in the “2 minutes hate” against anyone who questions this dogma, but I disagree that it is the most important conversation. Based on my lived experience, it seems obvious to me that the most important conversation regards the boogyman who lived under my bed when I was 3 years old. I’m still traumatized by this evil boogyman, and I still remember the numerous times when he came at me with his claws and blood-dripping fangs. It was only the fortuitous arrival of my mommy, scaring him away just in time, that saved me from a horrible experience. He is still hiding under the beds of 3-year-old children and our failure to have a national conversation about this is extremely traumatizing to me, and dismissive of my lived experience. And research shows that if leaders convey that they won’t tolerate evil boogymen hiding under beds, boogymen typically obey (no need to cite the study; you can’t question me because I’m a victim). I can’t vote for Joe Biden unless he gives this issue the attention that it deserves. If the Senate Judiciary Committee under his leadership had investigated this issue in 1991, nearly 30 years of terror could have been avoided by millions of 3-year-old children. I’m waiting for his call.

  4. F. Lee Billy

    Coulda, woulda, shoulda. The dust jacket of Hill’s 1997 book states: A graduate of Oklahoma State University and Yale Law School, Anita F. Hill served, until 1997, on the faculty of Oklahoma College of Law in Norman, Oklahoma. She lectures widely …

    We do not believe calling her a law professor to be a stretch of the imagination. Her book sits on our shelf, unread. We like to collect books, but hate reading them. We may have to take a second look.

    A book about her, one half read, is buried somewhere in the basement. The Warren Report also sits on the shelf, unread. What a monstrosity that is. We wonder if anyone has read it. Color us a conspiracy theorist.

    Incidentally, our impression is that Hill was a reluctant witness, albeit a hostile one. Although, …you could not tell by looking. Where is Arlen Spector when we kneed him? He was the former prosecutor turned senator from PA if we recall.

    The whole thing was a shameful casino, and we live with the consequeces. Yup, the U.S. Senate is the greatest deliberative body the world has ever known. Yup, yup!?!

    1. F. Lee Billy

      You are a clown, DML. And your grandmothers eat borscht, both of em.
      Let’s not forget: All the news that’s fit to print. Scott is a glutton for punishment when it comes to The Times. Being a New Yorker thru and thru, he is unable to push himself away from the table. Old habits die hard.
      And Progress is our most important Product, General Electric-breath. Does anyone remember Fortune Magazine covers from the fifties? They were awesome and now collectible. (Off-topic again.)

      Anita Hill’s place in recent Am. History is secure. Stop bashing the poor lady. She did what she thought she had to do at the time. Besides, like it or not, she is credentialed, which is more than we can say for some other Yale Law grads. Ahem. And she got a couple of books out of it. So what seems to be the problem?
      How many books did Monica What’s-her-face put out there for the louts to read? Ahem.

  5. B. McLeod

    This is the sort of “constructive truth” that forms the basis of social discourse in the United States today. Not everybody (even some of our colleagues) can understand that “constructive” means “not.” So, for anyone staking out public positions, such has become a matter of setting forth the constructive truth the positions are based on, then relying on one’s respective lot of partisan idiots for backup. From Bill Clinton to George W. Bush, and from FOX news to ABA Journal, you just maintain the validity of your constructive truth, and objective facts be damned. Men are women and women are men. Anything is possible. The issue of a few pretentious opportunists re-writing their personal histories pales in comparison to the debacle of our greater societal attempt to chose directions for norms and policies based on competing constructive truths that lack a basis in reality. To my way of thinking, we are actually now ahead in periods (such as the present one) wherein the partisan grid-lock has become so pronounced as to effectively paralyze all of the lunatics participating in this nonsensical melodrama.

  6. Neil

    Rather than cry about the emotional extortion of sex, strong women just refused and told men to shove it.

    Read with my woke eyes, this comes across rather different then you intended, I expect. An acknowledgement of the extortive nature of the oppressive patriarchy, it’s a call to action, to accuse as Anita Hill did.

    Let’s not forget what it was like back in 1973, when weak men stifled women.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDQm4rcDf4k

    Gloria’s story is one of a million sad stories that evaded the means by which society tests accusation of wrongful conduct. Those were the days.

    It took strength for Anita Hill to make her accusations in 1991. When the #MeToo movement eviscerates the test of the accusation, it provides it’s followers the illusion of strength without it’s substance. Regardless of Anita’s credibility, encouraging people to have strength and take up challenges isn’t wrong. Cheating them, as perhaps Gloria was, by misrepresenting the nature of the trials they’ll face is the problem.

    1. SHG Post author

      Since I don’t have a half hour to waste watching All in the Family at the moment, I’ll leave this here for the homebound and chronically unemployed.

  7. Julia

    I tend to believe that “millions of women” complaining is a fiction on its own, an optical illusion created by a social media campaign picked up by the media with their mutual amplification. Out of the 12 million posts, comments and *reactions* on Facebook, how many were original posts? If a post generates just a modest number of 10 comments and 30 likes, the posts would make only 2.5% of the total. And the number doesn’t even distinguish between original posts and reposts. My anecdotal experience suggests that it was largely a virtue signaling exercise, with the tag attached primarily to reposts from the media. But try to locate FB groups dedicated to MeeToo and you won’t find any millions of users, far from it. Why wouldn’t real women, one body per person, want to join? You hit larger groups searching for “weight loss”.

Comments are closed.