Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Thoughts on Sexual Harassment and Racial Discrimination

If you believe in god, and perhaps even if you don’t, there are one of two prayers you are most likely reciting daily. If you trust in Donald Trump, you are praying the domino scandal of inappropriate male sexual behavior engulfs special counsel Robert Mueller before he uncovers any evidence of illegality involving The Donald. If your decency index swings the other way, you are hoping beyond prayers that Mueller has no sexual indiscretions in his closet.

Oh, how our stature as a country with morals and integrity has fallen in the last 24 months. To be sure, we always have had leaders with outsized egos and even larger libidos. Mostly, their sexual peccadillos were kept under wraps until their respective infidelities were exposed, as happened when House Ways and Means chairman Wilbur Mills drove his mistress Fanne Fox into the Washington Tidal Basin in 1974. The dalliances of FDR, JFK even Ike came to light only after they no longer graced the earth.

No less a family values proponent than Ronald Reagan managed to project wholesomeness despite divorcing his first wife and later marrying Nancy, whom he had impregnated before they exchanged their vows.

Would Bill Clinton get elected today if we knew of his indiscretions? Perhaps, for after all, we did know of them but chose not to believe his accusers. Similar revolting behavior did not stop evangelical communities from voting for Trump. And many in Alabama seem poised to accept a flawed sexual predator as their next senator, especially now that the predator-in-chief has endorsed him, as has the Republican National Committee. They believe being a Democrat is more evil than any other sin.

Hollywood Casting: When they make a movie of Hollywood’s, the media’s and Washington’s continual fall from social grace (get real people, it is only a matter of time until the film starts rolling), here’s the perfect actor for the role of the corpulent predator at the heart of sexual scandaldom: Jeff Garlin should play Harvey Weinstein.

For those who don’t immediately recognize Garlin’s name, he plays Murray Goldberg on ABC’s The Goldbergs. But that traditional sitcom portrayal is not why he would make the perfect Harvey Weinstein.

It is his role as Jeff Greene, Larry David’s lascivious, scruples-be-damned agent and co-conspirator-in-mischief on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm that earns him his Weinstein creds. Not to mention his girth and no neck physical resemblance. Put a few days’ scruffy growth on his face and he’s camera ready.

With apologies if any of my projected cast for the Weinstein-inspired sexual harassment flick fall victim—that is, are exposed as a sexual aggressor—before filming can begin, here’s a lineup of players for the depraved:

Jeff Garlin as Harvey Weinstein
Frank Langella as Roy Moore
Christopher Plummer as Charlie Rose
George Wendt (Norm from Cheers) as Al Franken
Leonardo DiCaprio as Kevin Spacey
Tom Hardy as Matt Lauer
James Belushi as Bill O’Reilly
Paul Giamatti as Roger Ailes
Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump
J.B. Smoove (from Curb Your Enthusiasm) as John Conyers
Austin Pendleton as Woody Allen
Macaulay Culkin as Ronan Farrow
John Lithgow as Louis C.K.
Rainn Wilson as Garrison Keillor
Dana Carvey as George H.W. Bush
Ed Asner as James Levine
Kenan Thompson as Clarence Thomas
Larry Fishburne as Bill Cosby
Jimmy Kimmel as Roy Moore

Unfortunately, there no doubt are many more, known and unknown at this time, to be cast. As for the courageous women coming forward to reveal the sexual harassment they endured, they should play themselves so they could at least reap some compensation for their collective trauma.

Happy Out, Angry In: I happily traveled with Gilda down to Washington, DC, to spend Thanksgiving with my brother and his family. I came back angry.

Fear not. There was no family squabble. No real life representation of countless movie or TV family meals turned into shouting matches.

Rather, my anger stemmed from a visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. It was among the most moving, enlightening, and educational exhibits I have witnessed. It should be required viewing by all politicians and corporate leaders. 

Anyone who takes the time—half a dozen hours, as we spent the day before Thanksgiving, does not complete the experience—will come away with a deeper understanding of the contributions Afro-Americans have made to our country during their years of bondage, repression under Jim Crow laws, and the current contradictory phase of presumed equality masked by racial discrimination.  

I exited the museum angry that anyone could deny the righteousness of the fight for equality. That anyone could support laws that perpetuate inequality. That anyone could   work to suppress voting rights. 

I wondered what Trump took away from his visit last February to the museum, given the minimal time his schedule would have permitted him to spend there. I wondered if he was intelligent and curious enough to go back after hours for a longer, deeper dive into the history and culture displayed there. He did, after all, say he wanted to return for a more comprehensive visit. 

Based on how he has addressed issues affecting minority communities, from voting rights to programs to help the disadvantaged, I surmise he has not followed through. In his own favorite word, sad.

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