Sexual harassment is wrong. You would like to think that there would be a broad, non-ideological, bipartisan agreement on that notion.
What an unfortunate number of people believe when they say that is, “sexual harassment is wrong, when it is committed by people I don’t like.” A vivid example:
Roberta A. Kaplan, a nationally prominent lawyer with ties to the governor, resigned from Time’s Up, the organization founded by Hollywood women to fight sexual abuse and promote gender equality.
Ms. Kaplan, the chairwoman of Time’s Up and the co-founder of its legal defense fund, was one of several prominent figures whom the report found to be involved in an effort to discredit one of Mr. Cuomo’s alleged victims, and she has continuing legal ties to a former Cuomo aide accused of leading that effort.
At the height of #MeToo, more than a few voices on the right argued that the “Believe Women” and “Believe All Women” slogans were highly conditional, and would be abandoned the moment a sufficiently powerful or popular Democrat faced allegations of wrongdoing. And by mid-2020, some feminists and some Democrats implausibly claimed they never meant believe all women.
But was it too much to expect that the people who led the charge on #MeToo would not later sign on to efforts to discredit accusers? Wasn’t that exactly what they were decrying at the height of #MeToo?
Time’s Up is not the only institution where members are wondering if the leadership turned a blind eye to Cuomo’s actions.
The New York Attorney General’s sexual harassment investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo has raised criticisms of a prominent LGBTQ advocate, who is accused of participating in efforts to discredit the governor’s alleged victims.
That advocate, Alphonso David, the president of Human Rights Campaign, is now facing demands that he resign…
David’s appearances in the report have raised questions about his continued role with HRC from both the political left and right. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat who is openly gay, told NPR in an interview that she would not accept support from HRC unless David stepped down. The Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative LGBTQ group, also called on David to resign. An attorney for Lindsey Boylan, one of Cuomo’s accusers, told NPR that Boylan plans to sue Cuomo for retaliation and that Boylan could potentially name David as a co-defendant.
People are rarely eager to believe the worst, or turn against, their longtime political allies. But what we’re seeing here is that some of the people who shouted the loudest about standing up against sexual harassment were in fact highly conditional in when and where they would speak out against it.