Sunday, August 23, 2020

Cancel Those Men!


The Al Franken purity test lives on.

Franken resigned from the United States Senate on January 2, 2018.  A photo had emerged of him holding his hand in front of the breast of USO co-star and Republican activist Lee Ann Tweeden in 2006.  Outrage ensued and several other women claimed they had been sexually harassed by Franken. The Senator called for an investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics but the notion of due process, increasingly an outmoded concept in American government, was superseded by a call from 35 of his Democratic colleagues for his resignation.

When Franken was hounded from office, his Minnesota constituents were deprived both of the individual they had placed in office and the opportunity to cast their judgement in a subsequent election. A few of Franken's colleagues soon thereafter expressed regret at their rash determination of guilt but Democrats still periodically demand the scalp of one of their own.

Nineteen year old Aaron Coleman had won the Democratic nomination State Representative in Kanssas when he was interviewed by GlennGreenwald, who explained the nominee now had been accused of

serious misconduct in which he engaged when he 12 and 13 years old as a middle school student. Specifically, as a middle school student, Coleman bullied several of his female classmates, including one who says that when they were in sixth grade, she attempted suicide due to his incessant mocking of her physical appearance. The worst event was when Coleman obtained from the internet a nude photo of one his middle school classmates, and demanded more photos from her upon threat of publishing the one he had, which he made good on when she refused.

That middle school behavior is horrific, and several of the the girls say, credibly, that they suffered greatly. During the campaign, Coleman, when confronted with the accusations, immediately acknowledged that they were true, said he was deeply ashamed of what he did when he was 12 and 13, characterized his actions as the behavior of a “sick boy,” and says that as an adult he has reformed and evolved past the pathologies he suffered and is no longer the child from a very troubled and deprived background who did that. He cites the fact that there have been no similar accusations lodged against him in the past five years since he left junior high.

 Coleman was much younger when he misbehaved than was Franken, whose actions were less serious and merely alleged. Still, just as Franken was eager to get the facts of the accusations out

Coleman says he has reached out to his victims from middle school to make amends, though they have not responded, and says he is eager to speak to them should they wish so he can do what he can to repair the damage he caused. He also insists that society bears the burden along with him of repairing similar damage — by better funding public schools so that impoverished kids like him do not end up lost and abused by a failing system, and by providing services to victims of school bullying and other forms of childhood abuse to obtain the help they need.

A party hemorrhaging support among working-class whites might be interested in a young politician whose life story is

vanishingly rare to see among elected political officials. Raised by a father who could not work due to severe mental health disabilities and a mother who is an under-employed teacher, Coleman’s childhood was one of poverty, at times not knowing where his next meal would come from. After dropping out of high school, he enrolled at a local community college in Kansas City to obtain his GED, and now splits his time between community college classes and his job as a part-time, hourly-wage dishwasher.

Unlike Stan Frownfelter, whom Coleman defeated in the primary and who had joined his GOP colleagues in restricting reproductive rights, Coleman supports

universal health care coverage, raising the minimum wage, state-funded trade schools, a Green New Deal, full reproductive rights for women, and the legalization of cannabis, with new revenue from marijuana sales going to public schools and to create free trade schools.



However- or maybe therefore- the Kansas State Democratic Party declared its intent to mount a heavily financed write-in campaign on behalf of Frownfelter.  And now Aaron Coleman, a young, working-class candidate who supports compassionate causes his Party claims it favors, has been drummed out of the race. Among the arguments made on behalf of Coleman, one stands out as emblematic of today's Democratic Party. He noted

Just this week, the Democratic National Convention hosted as a speaker a convicted murderer named Donna Hylton, who committed one of the most gruesome crimes imagainable not as a junior high student but as an adult: she participated in a group that over the course of fifteen days kidnapped, tortured, starved, raped and then murdered a man for ransom. She spent her prison time becoming a criminal justice advocate and the DNC gave her a platform at their Convention based on the belief that we should affirm the right of human beings to be rehabilitated even when they commit the most barbaric murders and rapes as an adult, let alone as a young child.

There are many reasons the national Democratic Party, circa 2020, would welcome a felon who was involved in the brutal murder while a state party would destroy the political career of one of its own. Perhaps the fault lies with the national party, displaying its undying devotion to criminal justice reform while nominating for President and Vice-President the two candidates who have proudly opposed it. A contributing factor likely is that Hylton, like the vice-presidential nominee, is not African-American but Jamaican-American (and Hylton actually was born there).

Or perhaps it's the behavior of the Kansas state party which is destructive, choosing to eat its own, especially because the nominee in this case is a progressive. But if so, it is following the script of the national party, which saw an effective, progressive United States senator and decided that the siren call of political correctness was too much to resist.

 


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