sexual assault

The Media’s Loudest #MeToo Champions Are Ignoring Biden Sexual Assault Accuser Tara Reade

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/04/2020 - 2:09am in

Have you heard about the Joe Biden allegations? If you’re relying on corporate media for your information, the answer is “probably not.” As of April 8, there has been exactly zero coverage of the sexual assault allegations on CNBC, CNN, MSNBC, ABC or CBS News. Likewise, The New York Times and USA Today and have failed to discuss it. Meanwhile, the only mentions of Reade’s name in The Washington Post appear as a paragraph buried thousands of words into a long news roundup and an unscripted question from a reader in a live Q&A session.

After Bernie Sanders pulled out of the race today, Joe Biden appears to be the Democrats’ man for November. However, the former vice president’s past is again coming back to bite him; in an interview with writer and podcast host Katie Halper, his former staff assistant Tara Reade accused the then-senator of sexually assaulting her in the Capitol Building in 1993. “It happened all at once,” she said. 

He just had me up against the wall…. His hands were on me and underneath my clothes. He went down my skirt and then up inside it and he penetrated me with his fingers.

According to Reade, “Everything shattered in that moment… I looked up to him… He was this champion of women’s rights in my eyes. I couldn’t believe it was happening. It seemed surreal.” As she forced him away, he said, “I thought you liked me,” before adding, “you’re nothing to me… You’re nothing.” 

The allegations, if true, meet the legal definition of rape in the United States. Halper contacted Reade’s brother and friend, who both confirmed that Reade had told them about the event in 1993.

Biden’s team categorically deny the accusations. “Women have a right to tell their story, and reporters have an obligation to rigorously vet those claims,” said Kate Bedingfield, the former vice president’s deputy campaign manager and communications director. “We encourage them to do so, because these accusations are false.”

The allegations were immediately picked up in alternative media like Democracy Now!. Conservative press, such as The Daily Wire, who had dismissed similar charges against right-wing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as “obviously bogus” and a “witch-hunt,” also appeared interested in the story, although it misspelled Halper’s name as “Harper.” Reade’s story went viral, with “#IBelieveTara” becoming the No. 1 hashtag in the United States. But it was barely even mentioned in the mainstream press.

What makes their silence more notable is that many of these outlets present themselves as allies of the #MeToo movement. Indeed, only last month, while celebrating the conviction of Harvey Weinstein, The New York Times editorial board bemoaned “how difficult it can be to bring abusers to justice, particularly when they are wealthy and powerful,” decrying the “basic mistrust of women alleging sexual assault.” The Washington Post’s editorial board behaved similarly, stating that “we hope the bravery of these women coming forward to tell their stories under terrifying circumstances — and the fact that they were believed — will empower others who have been victimized.” But not this time, apparently.

Reade first came forward last spring in a wave of other women accusing the former vice president of inappropriate behavior. The Times went on the offensive, denouncing the “media frenzy” and the “obsession with a specific set of gotcha issues.” An article called “In Biden’s Defense” brushed away the allegations; “Biden’s ‘handsiness’ is a bit strange,” wrote columnist David Leonhardt, but it “should not become a defining issue for his likely campaign.” Leonhardt also condemned the “shameful” media “piling on” about something as trivial as “sometimes unwanted affectionate touches.”

Many prominent figures expressed skepticism about Reade’s current claims, asking “why now?” and walking back their cries of “believe women.” Alyssa Milano, who popularized the slogan “Me Too,” went so far as to quietly remove the hashtag from her Twitter bio, now that her preferred candidate was implicated. In reality, Reade has actually been trying to tell her full story for a year.

The Intercept’s Ryan Grim reported that Time’s Up, an organization dedicated to supporting women sharing their #MeToo stories, refused to help her, claiming it would be too political and that they might lose their non-profit status because Biden was a presidential candidate. Reade says she also tried to get assistance from the presidential campaigns of both Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris (two candidates who presented themselves as champions of women’s rights), but was rebuffed. 

Some online outlets have covered the story, but more often than not it has been only to attack Reade’s credibility. Salon’s feminist writer Amanda Marcotte, for instance, immediately poisoned the well by describing Halper as “an avid fan of presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders” in the first sentence of the article, and calling The Intercept “a publication which has been strongly supportive of Sanders and critical of Biden” in the second. She also noted that Reade did not support Biden’s bid and had praised Russia in the past. Case closed, apparently. Marcotte – who has slammed the Republicans for “thinking victims need to keep their mouth shut” and praised her Democratic Party for “upholding strict ethical standards meant to prevent abuse and harassment,” even when it hurts them – also presented the ideas that Reade is actually a Kremlin agent and that corporate media are not covering the story because of political interests as equally suspect “competing conspiracy theories.”

The bland explanation for the lack of coverage, Jezebel told its readers, is “it’s very difficult to get even meticulously investigated sexual assault reporting published,” claiming there are perilous legal and financial risks inherent in reporting allegations. This is, firstly, simply not true. There should be no legal risk for media outlets in accurately gathering accusations about a prominent public figure, allowing for a response, and publishing.

Tara Reade Biden

A photo of Tara Reade that she posted on a self-published article.

Furthermore, neither Salon nor Jezebel cared to explain why established outlets on both the left and right ran the story prominently, with barely a peep from corporate-funded outlets that support the establishment. The obvious answer – that ABC News and The New York Times are every bit as ideological as Halper or Fox News – appears to be literally unthinkable. 

As a comparison, when Warren accused Bernie Sanders of telling her a woman cannot be president, the comparatively minor accusation became a weeklong media event, dominating both politics and the airwaves. Rising’s Krystal Ball, a former MSNBC anchor who did cover Reade’s story, said she reached out to former colleagues and heard “crickets. Nothing. No one seemed to want to touch it.” Ball denounced what she saw as obvious media bias:

Ask yourself. If a claim like this had been made against Bernie Sanders or even Donald Trump, or another media villain like Edward Snowden, do you think that the accuser would have had any trouble getting press? Do you think it would fall to independent and alternative news to break the story if a woman who worked with Bernie in the ’90s made a credible claim of sexual assault? Do you think CNN and MSNBC would have buried their heads in the sand? Every reporter in this town would be breaking down their door to be the first to tell that story. Coverage would be wall to wall!

In the midst of the #MeToo wave, Biden himself stated that if a woman comes forward nationally, we should believe her as a default: “You’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real,” he said. Perhaps the Biden campaign is right, and Reade is lying. But without any coverage, we cannot even have a discussion. The virtually complete silence about the current allegations, from the same corporate press that had denounced Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” remarks, proves that even the most serious crimes will be trumpeted or ignored on a purely political basis. While they were willing to praise and platform sexual assault or rape survivors, the second that one came along that threatened their candidate, they ignored her story with lockstep conformity. Believe women, unless it is expedient not to.

Feature photo | Joe Biden arrives to speak about the coronavirus, March 12, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. Matt Rourke | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post The Media’s Loudest #MeToo Champions Are Ignoring Biden Sexual Assault Accuser Tara Reade appeared first on MintPress News.

The Labour Party, Affirmative Action and the Problem of Liberal Prejudice, Part 2: Sexism, Misogyny and Misandry

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 05/02/2020 - 5:35am in

In the first part of this post, I discussed some of the problems that may arise from all-Black and Asian election shortlists, as suggested by one of the candidates at the recent Labour party deputy leadership hustings in Bristol. In this part I wish to examine some of the problems of the same candidate’s declaration that they were determined to fight misogyny. I am certainly not denying that sexism exists in society, and that women are very far from being equal. I realise that many women have struggled and continue to struggle to make themselves accepted in male-dominated professions and workplaces. I realise that there are many jobs not considered suitable for women. And I also realise that despite some women managing to break the ‘glass ceiling’ and reach the very heights of management, there are still very few female managing directors or chairs of companies. However, the situation is changing in some areas, and this is not reflected in the debate about sexism, sexual harassment or gender and violence, at least not at the level of the popular press.

One of the issues is education. Since the 1990s boys have been falling behind girls at school and I gather that the majority of university students are also women. I know very well that women have had to struggle to get to this point. When I was growing up in the 1980s I remember reading a number of articles about brain sex stating that women would never be equal with men in certain subjects, like maths and science. But this has been shown to be false too. There are a number of factors affecting boys’ performance. One is the importance of sport, sex and violence over ‘book-larnin”, so that one academic commenting on the issue in the 1990s said that boys weren’t interested in the ‘3 Rs’ as the ‘3 Fs’ – football, fighting and, well, you can guess. Another factor may be that teaching is now very much a female-dominated profession, to the point where some schools have been described as ‘man deserts’ because of the lack or total absence of male teachers.

Other factors are class and those jobs traditionally viewed as masculine. Traditional working class male jobs, like mining, emphasised strength rather than academic performance. It may well be the case that, among some working class boys, academic performance is discouraged as effeminate and ‘poofy’. But class has also been a factor. A friend of mine grew up in rural Suffolk and went to the local comprehensive school. As he tells it, it had been a grammar school and still retained a very snobbish class ethos. The school ran classes in its sixth form to prepare pupils for going to university. My friend is highly intelligent, and he told me that despite achieving very good grades, the school never put him in this class. He came from a very working class background, and the school did not consider working class children to be suitable for university. And I’m afraid that there are some teachers that are very sexist in their attitudes to the children in their charge. I’ve heard horror stories decades ago of headmasters, who set up two classes for the bright and less bright. All the boys were in the first, and all the girls in the second. At the same time, I’ve come across two teachers in my time in school, who in my experience did not like boys and treated them worse than the girls. One was female, one was male.

These are issues that need to be examined if boys’ academic performance is to be improved. But there is a problem whether a political and social culture, that has and is making great effort to improve girls’ and women’s academic performance, is also able to to devote the same kind of effort and energy to boys. If boys also need special treatment to help them achieve their potential, then some feminists may resent that as an attack on the schemes that have helped women to make such great strides in achieving theirs.

I’m sure that when the candidate spoke about misogyny, she meant instances of clear hostility and aggression to women. Like discrimination, sexual harassment, abuse or violence specifically towards women. Domestic violence, and the stuff that Harvey Weinstein has been accused of. However, what makes this problematic is the way some feminists have extended it to include even trivial gestures, which many people of both sexes wouldn’t consider aggressive or demeaning. For example, one feminist academic has claimed that women’s self-confidence is knocked through ‘micro-aggressions’ such as calling them ‘love’. This was heavily criticised in the press, with some male writers pondering whether they were being treated with aggression and contempt when women called them ‘love’. Last week an expert from the Chartered Institute of Management appeared on Sky, I believe, and declared that management should stop men talking about sport in the workplace, as this excluded women and led to other laddish behaviours, like boasting of sexual conquests. This was also attacked by anti-feminist bloggers and vloggers like Sargon. Benjamin stated that he’d worked in offices, that were overwhelmingly female and where the topics of office conversation were typically female: makeup and men. Which obviously left him isolated. I’ve also worked in offices where the staff were overwhelmingly female, some of whom were extremely crude. In my first job, one of the girls one day told the rest of the office about how she had been to see a male stripper the night before. I’ve no doubt that if the situation was reversed, feminists, if not ordinary women, would find that unacceptable. But is there now a double-standard in that talk of such excursions is acceptable, if the strippers are men?

Ditto with sexual harassment. This is always discussed as something that men do to women, never the other way round. A few years ago there was a scandal about MPs groping parliamentary staff. This focused very much on women, who were leading the protest. But the Beeb report, as far as I can remember, also mentioned that half the victims were men. Nothing then was said about how they were affected or what steps were being taken to safeguard them. Did that mean that men’s safety in this regard was not as important as women’s? Again, the other year there was a report about the prevalence of sexual abuse and harassment at universities. One report in the I said that 75 per cent of women students had experienced it. It also said that 25 per cent of men had also. The article then described how universities were trying to tackle it by laying on courses educating students about the issue. But the rest of the article only discussed it as a problem that affected women. The men were mentioned and forgotten.

Domestic violence is also an issue that is framed almost exclusively as something that men inflict on women. I’m very much aware that throughout history, this has been very much the case. However, a friend of mine, who is a former nurse, told me that when he was being trained, they were told that both sexes were sent to the hospital in equal numbers by the partners. Men were, however, much more likely to kill their wives. I certainly do not mean here, to suggest anything to prevent vulnerable women from being given the help and protection they need against violent and dangerous men. The Tories have left such women increasingly vulnerable through cuts to women’s refuges and centres. While it is recognised that men also suffer from domestic abuse from women, you don’t hear that women hospitalise as many men as the other way around. Nor have I come across many articles talking primarily about men as victims of female violence. In fact, I can’t think of one. But I’ve also come across some extremely foul-tempered, violent women. I’ve no doubt discussion of the issue is constrained by some men feeling emasculated by talking about it. No man really wants others to think him ‘pussy-whipped’. And there is the attitude that men should just be a man about it all, and take it. At the same time, I think some women and feminists may also have qualms about discussing gendered violence towards men with the same kind of concern that’s given to women in case in detracted from the campaigns to end violence against women. But clearly such violence exists, and so needs to be tackled.

A campaign to tackle genuine misogyny is entirely praiseworthy. But it overlooks the way men can be similarly affected, and a narrow focus solely on women threatens to create new forms of sexism, rather than combat it. 

 

 

Austerity and Prison Violence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/01/2020 - 11:37pm in

A week or so ago Mike put up a piece reporting and commenting on the death of a disabled man in prison. From what I remember, like many such instances the man’s own special needs had been ignored and he was actually in prison for a minor offence. At least, one that should not merit his murder. Mike connected this to the Tories’ ongoing campaign of mass murder against the disabled.

In fact, violence, including self-harm, has risen massive in British jails since the Tories launched their wretched austerity. Joe Sim has authored an entire chapter on it in Vickie Cooper’s and David Whyte’s The Violence of Austerity. Sim has his own particular view of the crisis. He considers that prison violence hasn’t itself been created by austerity. It’s always been there, and is part of society’s brutal maltreatment of the poor and marginalised. But it has been massively intensified by the Tories’ cuts.

The stats are horrifying. Between 2011 and 2016, sexual assaults almost doubled. In 2014-15 there were over 400 serious incidents requiring the intervention of the specialist National Tactical Response Group, In 2015 an average of 160 fires were started each month. Self-harm rose by 40 per cent in two years, so that in 2015, 32,313 incidents were recorded.

321 died in the year to June 2016, an increase of 30 per cent on the previous year. 105 of these were self-inflicted, a rise of 28 per cent. Deaths by natural causes rose by 26 per cent to 186. Between January 2010 and December 2016, 1637 prisoners died, 542 of which were self-inflicted.

In 2015-15 there were nearly 5000 assaults and acts of violence against the different groups of people working in prisons. These included 423 on prison officers below the rank of principal officer, 828 on nursing auxiliaries and assistants, 640 on nurses, 535 on care workers, and 423 on welfare and housing associate professionals.

Sim states that to many commentators, including the media, Prison Officers’ Association and mainstream politicians, the cause of this increased violence are the cuts to the prison budget. These amounted to £900 million between 2011 and 2015, or 24 per cent of its overall budget. The Prison Reform Trust said that it was

[n]o mystery that violence, self-harm and suicide rise when you overcrowd prisons, reduce staff by almost one third, cut time out of cell and purposeful activity. The backdrop is a more punitive climate, increased injustice and uncertainty which have sucked hope out of the system for prisoners and staff.

I’m not disputing that very many of those incarcerated are guilty of the most heinous offences, and fully deserve their incarceration and punishment. But it is very clear that austerity has resulted in a massive deterioration in conditions which fueling violence in prisons against staff and prisoners. There’s obviously a long and complicated debate about the purposes of prison – to punish, reform, or even both – but it is clear that neither staff nor prisoners deserve the maltreatment and violence the cuts have generated.

This isn’t reformative. It isn’t proper punishment. It is carnage.

But the Tories just love killing and death when it’s directed against the poor and powerless.

‘I’ Article on Allegations of British War Crimes in Iraq and Aghanistan

I put up a piece yesterday evening commenting on a trailer for the Beeb’s Panorama programme tonight, 18th November 2019, investigating allegations that British troops have committed war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is also the subject of an article in today’s I by Cahal Milmo, titled ‘Army and UK Government accused of cover-up in war crimes scandal’. This reads

The Government is facing demands to ensure an investigation into “deeply troubling” allegations that torture and murders – including the killing of children – by British soldiers were covered up by senior commanders and officials.

Leaked documents provided to an investigation by BBC Panorama and The Sunday Times detail claims that evidence of crimes committed by UK troops in Afghanistan and Iraq was not fully investigated.

Amnesty International said that rather than sweeping such claims “under the carpet”, Britain needs to ensure cases are “treated with the seriousness they deserve”.

The claims, which include an allegation that an SAS soldier murdered three children and a man in Afghanistan while drinking tea in their home in 2012, arose from two official investigations into alleged war crimes by British forces. The Iraq Historic Allegations Teams (IHAT) and Operation Northmoor, which investigated alleged incidents in Afghanistan, were wound down in 2017 after a solicitor – Phil Shiner _ was struck off for misconduct after bringing more than 1,000 to IHAT.

Neither IHAT nor Northmoor resulted in any prosecutions, a fact which the Government insists was based on “careful investigation”.

But military investigators told the BBC and The Sunday Times that other factors were responsible. One former IHAT detective said: “The Ministry of Defence had no intention of prosecuting any soldier of whatever rank he was unless it was absolutely necessary and they couldn’t wriggle their way out of it.”

The media investigation uncovered claims no action was taken after military prosecutors were asked to consider charges against a senior SAS commander for attempting to pervert the course of justice in relation to the Afghanistan incident. It also found evidence that allegations of beatings, torture and sexual abuse of detainees by members of the Black Watch regiment did not reach court.

The Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted all cases had been looked at and “the right balance” struck in terms of court action.

A spokesman for the MOD said “Allegations that the MoD interfered with investigations or prosecution decisions relating to the conduct of UK forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are untrue. The decisions of prosecutors and investigators have been independent of the MoD and involved external oversight and legal advice.”

Underneath the article is a statement in a box that reads Another investigator said ‘Key decisions were taken out of our hands. There was more and more pressure from the Ministry of Defence to get cases closed as quickly as possible.’

As I wrote yesterday, this is something that no-one really wants to hear. We’d love to believe our girls and boys are far better than this. But I’m afraid that for all their training and professionalism, they are just humans like everyone else, placed in positions of extreme fear and danger. Regarding the killing of children, it also has to be taken into account that the enemy in those areas has hidden behind children and tried to use them to kill allied soldiers. This has resulted in allied squaddies having been forced to shoot them to preserve their own lives.

Falling Off the Edge, a book which describes how neoliberalism is forcing millions into poverty worldwide and actually contributing to the rise in terrorism, begins with a description of a firefight between American soldiers and Daesh in Iraq. The Daesh fighters are losing, and one of them drops a Rocket Propelled Grenade in a house’s courtyard. The fighters then run inside, and throw out of the door two little boys. They boys try to grab the RPG despite the American troops screaming at them not to. One of them makes to pick it up, and is shot by an American trooper.

It’s an horrendous incident, but one in which the squaddie had no choice. It was either himself and his comrades, or the child. It’s a sickening decision that no-one should have to face, and I don’t doubt that it will scar this man psychologically for the rest of his life. One of the complaints Private Eye had about the lack of appropriate psychological care for returning servicemen and women suffering from PTSD was that they weren’t put in the hands of army doctors and medical professionals, who would understand the terrible choices they had to make. Instead many were put in civilian treatment groups, who were naturally shocked and horrified by their tales of killing children. It may well be that some of the accusations of the murder of children may be due to incidents like this. I also remember an al-Qaeda/ Taliban propaganda video from Afghanistan that the Beeb played during the Afghanistan invasion. This was intended for audiences elsewhere in the Middle East. In it, one of the fighters hands a gun to another small boy, who waves it around as if he can hardly hold it, and proudly declares that he will gun down the evil westerners. This seemed to show that the Taliban and al-Qaeda weren’t above using small children as soldiers. It’s evil, and banned under the UN Rights of the Child, I believe. But if the Taliban have been using boy soldiers, this might explain some of the murders.

Even so, these are very serious allegations. I blogged yesterday about how an American diplomat in Iraq was shocked at the conduct of US forces. The mess of one division was decorated with Nazi insignia, mercenaries were running drugs and prostitution rings, and shot Iraqi civilians for sport. And the American army was also supporting sectarian death squads. We need to know if there is similar lawlessness among British troops.

And I’m afraid I have no faith in the ability of the British army or the MoD to investigate these claims fairly. Nearly every fortnight Private Eye’s ‘In the Back’ section has yet more information from the Deep Cut Inquiry into the suicide of three squaddies at the barracks now well over a decade ago. There have been allegations that the initial investigation was appallingly inadequate, that detectives and doctors were taken off the investigation, or prevented from properly examining forensic evidence. And reading some of the depositions makes it appear that there may well have been a cover-up. And this also lends credibility to the allegations that the government and MoD are covering up atrocities here.

This needs to be very carefully investigated with complete transparency. And it also shows how profoundly morally wrong the invasion of Iraq was. It was a war crime, and the criminals responsible were Bush and Blair.