The Harvey Weinstein scandal is not a sideshow. It occupies one of the three main rings under the big top of the circus that America has become.
While the foul-smelling, bleating Donald strives to command a lion’s share of attention with his feeble stream of little tweets, even as the GOP’s legislative failures mount, local leaders struggling to meet the effects of hurricanes and other natural disasters, kneeling professional football players defying racist conventions and, now, the mounting Weinstein scandal are, combined, exposing and eclipsing the already-failed president and grabbing the nation’s interest.
Of course, there are those trapped in the Washington bubble who want to cast all of these things in lowest-common-denominator partisan terms. But in the big wide open spaces of this land, these are all symptomatic of a cultural sea change that is occurring as a healthy reaction to everything Trump represents. It is turning out that the November 2016 presidential election will be remembered as a form of a morality play, notwithstanding it still may be nullified by incontrovertible evidence that it was skewed by an intervention from a hostile foreign power. We are now learning, for example, that it is impossible for the U.S. intelligence community to pronounce with any certainty that no actual votes were changed at the ballot boxes last November.
For whatever reason that was asserted, it is false. We now know that in fact, remotely changing votes when certain types of voting machines are involved is entirely possible. We can be confident that investigations underway are mapping the tell-tale evidence of where the Russian propaganda effort through Facebook, Google and Twitter was strongest – certain critical areas of Michigan and Wisconsin – and the possibility of tampered ballots in those same areas.
While this may lead to a movement to nullify the election altogether, the even more important consequence of all this lies in the unique opportunity to expose Russian propaganda methods to public scrutiny. This is critical for us all, because right now even some of our most well meaning leaders lack a necessary frame of reference to evaluate this.
First of all, it is not about Russian aims versus America’s, but about where the aims of certain factions in both powers coincide. Starting in the post-World War II era, the so-called Cold War was precipitated to justify what evolved into the McCarthyite witch hunts in the U.S. of the 1950s. The goal of this was not to stem the influence of Soviet communism, but on behalf of the U.S. military-industrial establishment to unravel the impact of 12 years of Roosevelt administration reforms, including the empowerment of labor unions, senior citizens and racial and ethnic minorities. Targets of these efforts were known euphemistically as limp-wristed “New Dealers.”
On the other side of the Cold War, cynical deals were cut with Soviet totalitarian regimes to squeeze out the same influences on behalf of the like-minded and long-standing Russian oligarchical forces. Nixon, under the “Detente” of the early 1970s, provided for an infusion of Russian thugs into the U.S. to attack the American labor unions, so-called organized crime and the counterculture, including the rising civil rights, feminist and gay rights movements. The Russian mafia was formed out of this and became a Trump asset.
In this context, the CIA and FBI launched massive, covert domestic interventions to discredit and undermine the potential for these movements to coalesce, and utilized debased cynicism, nihilism and selfish self-interest as its cultural cudgels, along with some well-timed assassinations of key public figures. This gave rise to the “Reagan revolution” of the late 1970s and 1980s when self-empowered women came under particularly-ferocious attack in the name of male chauvinist objectification of women’s bodies, physical abuse, intimidation and rape. The crimes of Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Cosby and Trump were celebrated in this “Playboy” environment, and it was not confined to one party. Ergo Weinstein and who knows how many more.
But the sensibilities of the civil rights and feminist movements persisted to react against the invasion of Iraq and elect Barack Obama and then our nation’s first woman president, by a three-million vote margin, whose office was stolen from her.
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at [email protected].