For the few out there who haven’t yet figured it out: life is perplexingly complicated — human beings included.
As Exhibit A, I present: Asia Argento.
The forty-two-year-old Italian actress lately has been spotlighted for allegedly having sex with a seventeen-year-old male — legally, sexual abuse — back in 2013. Argento flatly denies the charge, but photographic and text evidence, a $380,000 settlement, plus statements from those claiming acquaintance with the facts, signal she’s guilty. This accusation surfaced, keep in mind, while she’s been in the vanguard of the #MeToo movement. Earlier this year, she vociferously denounced film producer Harvey Weinstein whom she claims raped her twenty-one years ago.
Now, the tricky part — which, candidly, isn’t all that tricky: the incrimination against Argento may be valid — while her condemnation of Weinstein could be spot on, as well. Breaking news: sometimes hypocrites speak truth anyway. Individuals often properly censure others for corrupt conduct for which they’re equally culpable. Morally inconsistent? No doubt — but a quirky commonplace of life, nonetheless. Think thieves crying foul when robbed, murderers resisting premature death, liars hating deception against themselves. In such instances, there’s nobody to cheer for; all concerned parties are condemnable. That doesn’t automatically render their complaints baseless.
New Testament epistolist Paul summarizes: “You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?” (Romans 2:23) “The law” isn’t the bad guy here; it’s not invalidated. Rather, the double-standard of those preaching to their fellow man, but not practicing it themselves, is the problem. The soundness of “the law”, meanwhile, endures and must be upheld.
It’s blockheaded rejecting information or insights because you dislike or disrespect their source. That’s a logical lapse called the “genetic fallacy”. Truth remains true, you see — even when scoundrels disseminate it, affirm it unintentionally or brazenly violate it even as they proclaim it. The pertinent question remains: Is what is communicated legitimate? Not: Who said it?
Popular colloquialisms puckishly tip their hats to this granite principle: broken clocks right twice a day, blind squirrels finding occasional nuts, etc. Jesus pointedly acknowledged something along these lines, reminding His hearers to “observe and do” according to the precepts of Israel’s religious leaders, “but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.” (Matthew 23:2,3)
Honorable folks recognize truth, bow to reality, hew to right and wrong even when their promulgators are yucky or inconvenient to them or their causes. It’s a fixed and remorseless philosophical standard which has emerged as the challenge of our day — and not just for the political/cultural Left. Persons and civilizations rebuff it to their decided, long-term peril.
One of history’s incandescent, but little celebrated, moral exploits is future Founding Father/eventual U.S. President John Adams’ siding with the English Crown in the incendiary “Boston Massacre Trial”. Although an American patriot, and understanding it risky for his career prospects, the thirty-five-year-old lawyer “agreed to defend the [British] soldiers and their captain [because he] believed in upholding the law, and defending the innocent. … convinced that the soldiers were wrongly accused, and had fired into the crowd in self-defense.” Short years following, he’d be embroiled in official rebellion against King George and Co.; but when, in 1770, he felt duty called to serve as advocate for that same monarch’s Redcoats? Adams answered.
Kinda startling from today’s win-at-any-cost vantage point.
Mona Charen recently ruminated admiringly on Paula Duncan, a MAGA-hat-sporting juror in Paul Manafort’s case who, notwithstanding her concerns a guilty verdict would ding the President (his previous employer), decided for conviction.
“[F]inding Mr. Manafort guilty was hard for me. … I really wanted him to be innocent, but he wasn’t. That’s the part of a juror; you … deliberate and look at the evidence and come up with an informed and intelligent decision, which I did.
Charen styled Duncan “a rare spirit in this polarized age … adher[ing] to values higher than partisanship, namely the truth.”
Again, in 2018? Increasingly startling.
When a liberal echoes sensibleness, intellectual integrity demands conservatives admit as much; perhaps even volunteer a heartfelt “Attaboy!”. Consider Chicago Mayor and erstwhile Obama-hack Rahm Emanuel: he’s landed in some boiling water for reflecting last month about the Windy City’s crime-wave,
This may not be politically correct, but I know the power of what faith and family can do … Our kids need that structure. … I am asking … that we also do not shy away from full discussions about the importance of family and faith helping to develop and nurture character, self-respect, a value system and a moral compass that allows kids to know good from bad and right from wrong.
Can any self-respecting commentator — including habitués of the “religious right” — quibble with that? Or do anything less than clap Hizzoner on the back – Democratic bigwig or not — for coming clean on such sorely needed sentiments?
In a Chicago Sun Times op-ed entitled “Rahm Emanuel gave right message on violence, even if he was the wrong messenger”, African-American pundit Mary Mitchell somewhat reluctantly concedes, “[I]n this instance, [the truth] is doubly hurtful because it is coming out of the mouth of a white man. … [T]hat doesn’t mean the mayor is wrong.”
It’s a welcome eruption of objectivity from an unexpected corner of the media — often embarrassingly lacking from my fellow “right-wingers”. Take, for instance, those who keep doggedly insisting Barack Obama was dissing entrepreneurs when, in mid-summer 2012, he announced, “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.” These critics, regrettably, are letting anti-liberal bias skew their analysis. The sentences preceding and following the 44th President’s declaration lucidly clarify he was specifying “you didn’t build” the infrastructure and American system (schools, roads, bridges, internet) that partially facilitate a successful economy. Private enterprise and hard workers weren’t being trivialized.
This smear is as misinformed or disingenuous as those who savage Donald Trump a bigot for calling members of MS-13 “animals”. He was, in fact, scorching a gang of terrorizing thugs who also happen to be of Latin American provenance; them alone. The outspoken President, plainly, was not maligning every brown-skinned resident of the United States.
Hey, “Never Trumpers”: if you’ll unbudgingly refuse our current Chief Executive credit or a break when either are his due, you’re failing the most fundamental fairness test. The same applies to “Always Trumpers” who maniacally extend him a pass – a “mulligan” — on low-rent behavior or rhetoric which would send them into a frenzy were it Barack Obama or Bill Clinton involved.
Whether something true issues from someone you don’t favor or jabs someone you do – it never ceases being pre-eminent.
A few years ago, internet impresario Doug Giles mused to me: “All truth is God’s truth” – an unadorned but potent statement that’s stuck with me. It’s also a conviction that’s supposed to operate as a mainspring of political and cultural conservatism. In our modern, deepeningly contentious, even downright antagonistic age, we’d do well remembering and cultivating it.
If Asia Argento legitimately exposes the perfidy of the Harvey Weinsteins of the world? Multitudes benefit from that — even if she takes a personal hit in the credibility department from her own indiscretions. Likewise, when truth trickles into view from anyplace — even from what many would deem the “opposing side” – the prudent observer swallows hard and embraces it. Contrarily, when deficiencies are laid bear among our own ranks? Accept it, move on.
Ultimately, men and women shouldn’t be rooting for their “team”, but for those things that determine if lives prosper or falter, if societies prevail or collapse — standing for what is right, regardless of the package in which “right” arrives.
Image: Excerpted from: Georges Biard, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26533917