Of the unexpected positive outcomes of the Cosby incarceration and the #MeToo movement is included a sharp abatement in boneheaded questions. Specifically, in the case of rape or sexual assault: why didn’t she (or sometimes he) come forward sooner? That question isn’t posed as often as it used to be. If you don’t know the answer to that question by now, and nature and circumstances have somehow conspired to keep you separated from Google, then you might, just might, be forgiven. If you’re still asking that question, on the other hand, then shame on you. There’s still time – barely – for you to enlist with the human race. I promise you nothing more than a brief glare of disdain and a somewhat gruff shove in the direction everyone else is going.
It’s a question that will continue to be asked by Trump idolaters, of course, because they are congenitally incapable of understanding a human experience they have never had, or imagined they wouldn’t have, given the same circumstances. And it’s for precisely that reason that most of them will once again side with their “Dear Leader” in a recent, shocking rape allegation made by American journalist E. Jean Carroll.
Ms. Carroll alleges that in late 1995 or early 1996 she encountered Trump in the swank New York department store Bergdorf Goodman. She was enlisted by Trump to assist him in picking out lingerie. She alleges that they then went to a dressing room, where she says he raped her.
As is often the case there are contemporaneous witnesses. Ms. Carroll told two friends about the incident shortly after it occurred. One of them encouraged her to go to the police. But the other one told her, “Forget it! He has 200 lawyers. He’ll bury you.” As it turned out she took the advice of the second one.
That Trump is a serial sexual assailant is known. He’s admitted as much to Billy Bush on the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape. And no, it wasn’t “locker room talk.” Trump was bragging and, for once, he was telling the truth.
It’s an almost foregone trope of such circumstances to refer to them as “he said/she said” incidents. The implication being that we can never know for certain because such things are virtual moral coin tosses in this enigma of a world of ours, you know. Well, crap. We know Trump did it because we know Trump. It sounds exactly like something he would do, and besides, he says as much. And we know because there were reproducible contemporaneous witnesses to what Ms. Carroll told them at the time. And we know that a vanishingly small percentage of women make this kind of stuff up, anyway. All of which is to say, put away your coin. These are lottery odds. And by that I mean, lottery odds against Trump being innocent.
But the worst of it is, this recent allegation is just another in a mountain of horrible crimes we know Trump committed. With anyone else it would be a life-shattering revelation that would have echoing repercussions for years, possibly for the rest of the life of the assailant. With Trump it’s just Friday. A kind of rhetorical ho-hum, a sort of, “So, what else is new? It’s Trump.” We have become virtually desensitized to the horror that is Donald Trump. Even so, my capacity to shock myself remains undiminished when I recall that this is the president of the United States. If that quiet reminder doesn’t chill you then you’re not paying attention.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.