To say that I am notoriously skeptical of the MeToo movement is an understatement. In print, on television and on the radio, I have railed against a movement that has always struck me as extreme, partisan, and motivated more by vindictiveness than by a search for clarity and justice. From Bill Cosby, to Al Franken, to Montgomery County State Sen. Daylin Leach, to (most infamously) Brett Kavanaugh, I have publicly questioned the motives of the self-proclaimed victims of harassment.
Of course, I do understand that there are real cases of harassment and abuse — otherwise Harvey Weinstein would not be in jail and I would not be ashamed of some of the priests in my beloved Catholic Church. But I have seen the pendulum swing so far in the other direction that it has crushed due process in its extreme trajectory towards victims’ rights — even when accusations are unfounded or end up being debunked.
My position on these issues is not based in politics. I was as angered by the unnecessary resignation of Senator Franken as I was by the Senatorial witch hunt against now-Justice Kavanaugh. Due process is not tied to voter registration — it is a fundamental value which undergirds our system of law.
I also criticized the women who claimed former VP Joe Biden had manhandled them, kissing their necks, smelling their hair and getting too close for comfort. The stories seemed more like astroturfed attempts from the “Bernie Bros” and other Democratic presidential candidates to weaken Biden’s position as a front runner.
Ironic, then, that I now find myself demanding an investigation into accusations that the former VP assaulted a former employee, Tara Reade, when he was a Senator in 1993. The irony lies not in the fact that I am now embracing the MeToo movement (I’m not and I won’t, even at this stage,) but in the realization that the basis of the whole movement now seems fraudulent.
The irony lies not in the fact that I am now embracing the MeToo movement, but in the realization that the basis of the whole movement now seems fraudulent.
The hashtag “believe all women” arose before Christine Blasey Ford launched her PR campaign, complete with slick DC lawyers and a cacophony of media noise, against Brett Kavanaugh, but ended up becoming the slogan of the hearings. We were told to simply suspend skepticism, inquiry and a requirement that guilt, and not innocence, be proven. Those of us who questioned both the veracity and the plausibility of Blasey Ford’s narrative — one contested by even her closest teenage girlfriend who presumably would have confirmed her tale of assault — were pilloried as sexist abettors of the patriarchy.
Given my past experience, you can forgive me for expecting that the minute Tara Reade alleged that Biden had pushed her against a wall in the hallways of the Senate and forcibly penetrated her, there would have been a call for some sort of investigation similar to what Kavanaugh endured. At the very least, you’d agree that the front pages of every newspaper would be filled with quotes from prominent women’s advocates seeking information and advocacy on behalf of the accuser, for these much more serious allegations than those launched against Kavanaugh. After all, this was a sitting U.S. Senator — not a teenage boy — accused of actual physical penetration, not an attempted roughing up.
It would be so easy for these “women’s” (read: left-wing women) organizations to comment: they could just copy, verbatim, their prior statements, replacing “Kavanaugh” with “Biden.”
Alas, that didn’t happen. The legacy media has been relatively silent, excepting a fairly exhaustive report from the New York Times which, as it happens, went nowhere. Only when an old tape of an episode from the Larry King Show emerged, seemingly including a recording of Reade’s late mother from 1993, has momentum picked up. In the clip, Reade’s mother asks what recourse her daughter would have after having been assaulted by a Senator, aside from going to the press, something she refused to do.
That is pretty compelling corroborating evidence.
Now, it seems, the media is paying attention. But my question is: why did it take this voice from the dead, this maternal deus ex machina to trigger a serious response to allegations of assault when similar, even less serious, allegations were enough to paralyze the country and forever smear the name “Kavanaugh” during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings? Surely accusations against a prospective president are equally weighty as those against one member of nine on the high court. Can the reason be that the leaders of the MeToo movement are sympathetic to the politics of the presidential candidate, but found the judicial nominee’s to be anathema?
If that is the case, then the #MeToo movement — and those that are remaining on the sidelines, or even running cover for the Biden campaign, as Reade alleges — is about left-wing politics, and not about women’s rights.
And yet, this silence of the supposed proponents-of-women is nothing new; the question of whether these groups are really left-wing fronts answers itself, particularly if you look at their silence during the Clinton Impeachment.
Perhaps in a different climate, Biden’s alleged transgressions would be subjected to a higher scrutiny, although given the Clinton debacle that’s not certain. What is certain is that Biden is now viewed as a firewall between the country and a second term of Donald Trump, so it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that the MeToo wagons are being circled.
And for that reason, and unless there is a serious investigation of Reade’s claims — whatever the outcome — I will continue to believe that the MeToo movement is a fraud, wrapped in a lie, serving a pretext: to win elections for the left.
Christine Flowers is an immigration attorney specializing in asylum, deportation and family law. She is a lifelong Philadelphian. @flowerlady61