It Isn’t #BelieveAllRaccoons
A ludicrous New York Times op-ed weaves around the truth: Democrats don't want to believe the Tara Reade accusations.
We right-wingers are like velociraptors, forever coming up with clever and exciting ways to ambush our prey. There’s the old “conservatives pounce” trope, which the media uses to describe Republicans attacking someone for hypocrisy, exalting that into bigger news than the hypocrisy itself. And now we have an op-ed in the New York Times warning of yet another “right-wing trap.”
That trap? “Believe All Women.” The long-time #MeToo moniker is actually a snare set by conservatives. Lest you think I’m kidding, the headline of the piece is: “‘Believe All Women’ is a Right-Wing Trap.”
It’s the most diabolical conservative scheme since the Covington Catholic kids brought back racism by smirking on the National Mall. In the Times op-ed, author Susan Faludi undertakes an extensive and deeply professional journalistic investigation, consisting of her typing “#BelieveAllWomen” into Twitter’s search function. What she discovers is shocking: the hash tag had been used mostly by conservatives. They’d adopted it, she says, as a kind of sardonic echo, meant to hold the left’s feet to the flames: if you’re going to believe all women, then you also have to believe X accuser of Y Democrat.
In detailing her findings, Faludi makes an imperishable distinction:
This is why “Believe All Women” is not an amplification of “Believe Women,” but its negation. As Mr. Morales Henry at the Schlesinger Library told me, after several days of analyzing the use of the two hashtags, “It looks like #BelieveAllWomen, especially recently, is being used in opposition to #BelieveWomen.”
That’s it. That’s the peg on which the left intends to hang its skepticism of Tara Reade. “Believe Women” doesn’t mean the same thing as “Believe All Women.”
To which a sane person who’s graduated from the first-grade reading level might respond: yes it does. “Believe Women” does not mean “Believe Seven Eighths of Women.” It does not mean “Believe Hypoglycemic Women” or “Believe Welsh Women” or even “Believe Credible Women.” It does not mean “Believe Raccoons” or “Believe Protocol Droids.” Without a modifier, “women” is a noun that covers roughly half of the human race. The lack of an “all” does not imply partiality. Neither does any demand for consistency by conservatives.
Faludi asserts that the “Believe All Women” tagline is wrong, because, as she puts it, “feminism was birthed out of a desire that women be treated as individuals, not as a cookie-cutter ideal or a faceless stereotype.” And here’s to that! But it isn’t conservatives who regard women as mere emissaries of their gender. It’s contemporary left-wing identity politics, whose basic unit is not the individual but the racial, ethnic, and gender group, to which the individual is expected to conform. This is why Samantha Bee recorded a monologue after Trump’s election asking what was wrong with “white women.” It was simply assumed that white women were obligated by their gender to support Hillary Clinton. Likewise did some #MeToo feminists make similar categorical generalizations about accusations of sexual assault. Women deserve trust; the men they accuse deserve skepticism; that’s that.
Hence, as Robby Soave has pointed out, it wasn’t just the right that cried “Believe All Women.” Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton said approximately the same thing. And in fairness, even when conservatives did use that line, many feminists accepted their challenge, putting their politics on hold and reconsidering accusations of assault against left-wing men. Michelle Goldberg wrote an essay saying she believed Juanita Broaddrick, who credibly accused Bill Clinton of rape back in the ’90s. Al Franken was expeditiously bum-rushed out of the Senate.
The difference is that with Clinton and Franken, the political stakes were relatively low. Notably, neither was running in an election against Donald Trump. Joe Biden is, which for the left, makes believing his accuser a dicey proposition.
And that’s the real purpose of Faludi’s piece: to provide leftists with a psychological workaround so they can justify voting for a man credibly accused of the same crime whose denouncement they’ve turned into an ideological centerpiece. It isn’t “Believe Women” or “Believe All Women”; it also isn’t “Carefully and Charitably Investigate the Claims of Women,” which, despite committing the unpardonable sin of not being tweetable, is the correct standard. It’s “I Get to Disbelieve This One Woman.” Expect that to become a genre in the months ahead.