Charles Pierce comments on the recent abrupt resignation of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a liberal Democratic politician — one of our guys! — whose career “went into the acid bath because, at one level or another, they failed to see women as actual human beings”. The article resonates with me because this is a universal problem everywhere, not just in politics. I run into it in science, in atheism, everywhere. It’s a problem with the human condition.
The search for the person on a white horse is an open invitation to counterfeit engagement and artificial activism. The impact of celebrity on our politics has been devastating enough; see the current tenant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for details.
See also the list of
Intellectual Dark Web phonies. Every time an organization looks for the guy on the white horse to lead them, they are going to experience a colossal pratfall because there is no end of grifters with a bucket of whitewash and a broke-down mule ready to announce their candidacy.
Schneiderman is one of those terrible people with a history of assaulting women, and it’s good that he’s out (for now; expect a comeback attempt soon. The standard waiting time seems to be a few months.) But the rot goes deeper. Who are all these people who knew, but did nothing?
His swift resignation was more than justified and his disappearance from the ongoing drama of this presidency, while unfortunate, is wholly appropriate. He should’ve been in jail years ago.
Instead, for the purposes of this story, we should focus on one small slice of the account.
After the former girlfriend ended the relationship, she told several friends about the abuse. A number of them advised her to keep the story to herself, arguing that Schneiderman was too valuable a politician for the Democrats to lose. She described this response as heartbreaking. And when Schneiderman heard that she had turned against him, she said, he warned her that politics was a tough and personal business, and that she’d better be careful. She told Selvaratnam that she had taken this as a threat.
Who in the hell counsels a friend to hush up a violent assault on these grounds? My politics are as important to me as anyone’s are but if, say, Sherrod Brown came and burglarized your house, I wouldn’t tell you to let him keep your jewelry because we need him to save Social Security. (Note to Senator Brown: I do not believe you are a cat burglar.) This is turning your politics into a graven image, a golden calf of the soul. Believe it or not, there are some things that politics ought not to touch. Physical abuse of any kind is high on that list.
The metaphor may be apt, but it’s also kind of incongruous that so many atheists are hauling around golden calves of the soul. The argument that “So-and-so is an asshole, but he’s our asshole, and his book/podcast/videos are soooo good” is tiresome. They aren’t worth it.