Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
Time has named #MeToo its ‘Person of the Year’ and every other day the hashtag lynch mob drags someone else in front of the spotlight. The accusations range from rape to harsh words. The evidence is hearsay. The target is shamed, fired from every job he ever held and purged from polite society.
Some are guilty. Some might be innocent. But we’ll never know because there’s no investigation. The time frame between accusation and purge is hours or days when it takes your average HR department a week to file a form. Just like in every totalitarian leftist state, the accusation is enough.
And then it’s on to the next one.
There’s nothing American about #MeToo. It’s the revolutionary justice of a leftist purge where random political violence against ideological enemies is used to heal social ills. If there’s poverty, shoot a few rich men. If there’s unhappiness, string up some priests. And if there’s sexual assault, destroy whichever names are passed along by a few influential, but enigmatic figures, Ronan Farrow, Yashar Ali, with ambiguous backgrounds and agendas, through pressure campaigns aimed at their employers.
And don’t ask any questions. Only bad people ask questions. Only bad people want proof. Only bad people don’t instantly believe an accusation. And you’re either with #MeToo or with its targets.
But maybe we should start asking a few questions.
Six years ago, I was stopped by a reporter and asked if I believed a rape victim.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund who was likely to be the next president of France, had been arrested for sexually assaulting a hotel maid. Local tabloids and cable news quickly descended on the case of the suave powerful man who had assaulted a refugee hotel maid who had been gang raped in her own African country.
The French reporter who accosted me asked me if I believed the victim. He wanted to know what Americans thought should happen to Strauss-Kahn. I told him that in this country we put people on trial and we get all the facts before we punish them.
France didn’t wait for all the facts.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s political career ended. Hollande became the next President of France. And there were always rumors that the whole thing had been a setup by his political opponents. Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel maid, had managed to lie convincingly about almost everything. She had even lied about soldiers in Guinea gang raping her and what she had done right after the attack.
Finally, prosecutors gave up.
“In virtually every substantive interview with prosecutors, despite entreaties to simply be truthful, she has not been truthful,” they wrote about their own witness. "The nature and number of the complainant's falsehoods leave us unable to credit her version of events beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Like many of the accused men, Dominique Strauss-Kahn appeared to have little control over his appetites. But his reputation had been destroyed based on an accusation.
And an accusation alone should not be enough to destroy a person.
In the longest and most expensive trial in American history, members of the McMartin family were prosecuted for Satanic child abuse. The Los Angeles case dragged on for 16 years. The whole thing proved to be groundless.
During the Iraq War, Hillary Clinton, Al Franken, Rachel Maddow and many other leftists championed the case of Jamie Leigh Jones who worked for a Hailburton subsidiary in Baghdad’s Green Zone. Jones claimed to have been gang raped by her fellow employees. After 6 years, the case completely collapsed.
The University of Virginia’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity won millions from Rolling Stone after being vandalized and harassed because of the magazine's recent rape hoax article. 'Jackie", the woman in question, had made the whole thing up. But by then the witch hunt had already been unleashed.
That’s why Believe All Women is a terrible idea.
Not all accusers, men or women, can or should be believed. Some men and women do lie either because they have something to gain or because they’re psychologically unstable. A court appointed psychiatrist determined that Jones suffered from narcissistic personality disorder and faked injuries for sympathy. ’Jackie’ appeared to be a compulsive liar who later blamed PTSD.
Everything we know about human psychology tells us that people do lie. They will lie for profit or revenge. They will lie to get attention or because they are troubled. And even when they aren’t lying, their grasp of reality can be shaky. Memory under the influence of strong emotions becomes erratic. And history tells us that mass lying does occur in moral panics like the Salem witch trials.
That’s why we determine guilt based on investigations and evidence. And the #MeToo lynch mob’s evidence can be surprisingly shaky.
Take the recent forced resignation of Rep. Franks. Politico described “sources” relaying an account by a “former staffer” about Franks getting another “female aide” to read an article about falling in love. That’s not evidence. It’s a third-hand accusation that didn’t even originate from the supposed victim.
The difference between a lynch mob and a court of law is evidence. Lynch mobs don’t believe that victims can lie or that perpetrators can be innocent. They don’t believe that the justice system can be trusted. They don’t just want to punish. They want to terrorize as a tool of social improvement.
All this is exactly what #MeToo suffers from.
#MeToo doesn’t care much about evidence. Its mantra is Believe All Women. The evidence against some of its targets is overwhelming and others non-existent. But it demands that we believe them all equally because oppression is an ideological truth that doesn’t depend on the facts in any given case.
The American system believes in equal justice. The leftist system wants to ‘punch up’ at the powerful oppressors and not ‘punch down’ at the oppressed. Evidence doesn’t matter. Power relationships do.
Once upon a time, politicians were brought down for immoral behavior. But our current culture doesn’t believe in sexual morality. Instead all sexual behavior is conditional on consent. And consent is conditional on power. The #MeToo movement’s moral panic is lack of consent. And lack of consent is demonstrated by the power relationship between two people rather than by any independent evidence.
And the trouble with hinging everything on consent, especially in cases of verbal exchanges where no physical actions took place, is that the accuser’s feelings are the only evidence and indictment.
“I felt afraid.” “I felt hurt.” “I felt out of control.”
These feelings can be real, but an accusation based on subjective feelings can’t be the only evidence of guilt. Otherwise the accuser becomes judge, jury and executioner.
Take the Franks case again. Two female staffers were upset about Franks’ alleged proposal to have them act as surrogates for his wife, who is unable to have children, because they weren’t sure “whether he was asking about impregnating the women through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization.”
Rep. Franks’ previous two children had been conceived through in vitro fertilization. It’s also wildly implausible that Franks was proposing to pay them $5 million, with the knowledge of his wife, to sleep with them. But it didn’t matter what Franks meant. It only mattered what his accusers thought he could have meant. That’s how a Washington D.C. aide was once fired for saying, “niggardly.”
And that’s the problem with Believe All Women. Sometimes the accuser is telling her truth, not the truth.
In evidence-based investigations, we examine the accused’s motive. In #MeToo, motive doesn’t matter. Only the solipsistic experience of the victim in her own private universe determines guilt or innocence.
Rolling Stone’s ‘Jackie’ testified that she believed her story when she was telling it. Lena Dunham decided retroactively that she had been raped by a Republican named Barry at Oberlin College. Her publisher later ended up paying the lawyer’s fees of the only Oberlin Republican named Barry.
The human mind can hold different understandings of an event at different times. That’s why we look for tangible evidence rather than the erratic emotional experiences of our consciousness.
#MeToo defenders will argue that the issue is social sanction, not criminal proceedings. But a fair society isn’t just limited to the courtroom. It’s the social rights we extend to other people every day. Being able to work, live and participate in society is a social right. And it shouldn’t be removed without evidence.
The Believe All Women line is that only 2% to 10% of sexual assault accusations are fake. The statistic is highly suspect. And it only refers to criminal accusations. Not to #MeToo’s social sanctions.
But even if it were true, how many innocent people does that make?
“If some innocent men’s reputations have to take a hit in the process of undoing the patriarchy, that is a price I am absolutely willing to pay,” a Teen Vogue columnist tweeted.
That’s how the left thinks. It’s not how Americans think.
It is important for women and men to be able to speak out when they are abused. Their accusations can be grist for investigations. And they can warn others to be cautious in their dealings with the accused.
But guilt by accusation should never become the norm.
Many of the #MeToo women have been victimized. They deserve our sympathy. But none of us wants to live in a society where our lives can be destroyed without recourse at any moment. And that’s the world #MeToo is taking us into. It’s why we should start doing exactly what #MeToo doesn’t want us to do.
Don’t believe all women or all men. Ask questions. Search for the truth.