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The Uncivil Servant: The Hour of the Hypocrites

Mitchell Abidor
October 17, 2016

by Mitchell Abidor

THE TIME has perhaps come for a hypocrisy check. As the number of women accusing Trump of unwanted sexual advances mounts, we all sit in shock and horror, wondering how anyone can continue to support him, and how anyone can think, as Trump claims, that this is all a politically manipulated campaign against the nominee. All these women are lying? Aren’t their accusations consistent with what we’ve seen of Trump’s conduct over the years? Despite the obvious truth of the accusations, can people be so lost to decency that that will vote for a monster like Trump in preference to a Democrat? Is partisanship that strong a motive?

Friends, let’s enter our Wayback Machine to 1992, when the candidate for the Democratic nomination Bill Clinton was accused of a long-running affair with Gennifer Flowers. Of course the accusation (along with all the later ones) was politically motivated, the work of a vicious media eager to sully a candidate. And when we were assured by the candidate and his wife this was all phony, how many of you didn’t vote for Clinton in November? Not many of you, I’d wager. Bush had to be stopped, the Republicans had to be defeated.

Okay, granted, infidelity is not equivalent to sexual assault. But does anybody today really believe that all the rest of the accusations over the years against Clinton, including a rape, (according to Jack Shafer in Politico, six consensual affairs, five non-consensual, and one rape were fake? Yet when women came forward during his presidency, didn’t we all discount them as publicity hounds and agents of the Republicans?

Maybe Hillary is keeping quiet about Trump’s statements only because it opens her and her husband up to the same attacks, but she’s right to not harp on the subject. Republicans using it as an excuse to un-endorse Trump are hypocrites, and Democrats who get on their high horses about them are taking the easy way out and hiding their own mendacity from themselves.

Trump is a danger to our democracy, a danger to the world, an ignorant, vicious dictator-in- waiting. There’s no need to list all his horrific and illegal policy proposals, but any two of them -- choose which you prefer -- would disqualify the man. So should his conduct towards women. But once upon a time, “he said, she said” accusations were discounted as false or irrelevant by too many of us. Our chickens have come home to roost, and we’ve been called for our hypocrisy. That the accusation is made by a hypocrite and his hypocritical supporters doesn’t change its truth.

We can be happy that these attacks have undermined his hopeless campaign, but we shouldn’t be surprised that the mob that backs him has been unmoved. We were once there, too.

Mitchell Abidor, our contributing writer, is the author of many volumes of translation. His translations of the poet Benjamin Fondane can be found in the collection Cinepoems, published by New York Review Books.

Mitchell Abidor, a contributing writer to Jewish Currents, is a writer and translator living in Brooklyn. Among his books are a translation of Victor Serge’s Notebooks 1936-1947, May Made Me: An Oral History of My 1968 in France, and I’ll Forget it When I Die, a history of the Bisbee Deportation of 1917. His writings have appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Liberties, Dissent, The New York Review of Books, and many other publications.