Last Wednesday, Judge Susan Webber Wright dismissed Paula Jones’ allegations of sexual harassment against President Clinton. Most legal analysts have agreed with the judge’s rationale that, even if Jones’ allegations are true, she did not suffer a substantial injury due to then-Governor Clinton’s conduct.
Although the judge’s decision may be correct based on the current law, Americans should be asking themselves whether or not the president’s alleged behavior should be tolerated in our society. Instead, we have remained silent.
The GW Hatchet’s April 2 editorial on the decision (“Jones v. Clinton,” p.4) posed many questions about what constitutes sexual harassment “post-Jones,” but failed to take a concrete position with regard to any of the numerous allegations of sexual misconduct by the president. The paper seems to have been more concerned with members of fraternities throwing shoes in trees than it is about serious allegations concerning the president’s conduct and his unwillingness to answer questions about that conduct. We should hold our president to a higher standard than college fraternities.
Yet, while finding The Hatchet’s silence weak and reprehensible, the newspaper should not be singled out for criticism. Nobody wants to stand up and say that the allegations against the president constitute deplorable conduct. Moreover, few are criticizing the president for refusing to adhere to his promise to directly answer these serious charges.
Congressional Republicans, fearing they might “rock the boat” in an election year, remain silent. Women’s groups, seemingly willing to ignore the president’s conduct as long as he continues to push their agenda, remain silent. Congressional Democrats, especially those women elected to the Senate in 1992 following their outrage over the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings, sadly remain silent.
Most disturbing is the reaction from the American people, whose sense of moral outrage seems to run inversely proportional to the Dow Jones Average. We too remain silent. And the president, buried with allegation after allegation, has concluded that none of us care – and sadly, he is right. He revels in his silence.
Imagine this for a moment: You are a female student whose family has just experienced unexpected financial hardship. Without financial assistance, you will no longer be able to attend college. Embarrassed and humiliated with your task, you go to the university president’s office and plead to be allowed to stay in school. Suddenly, you are relieved. He is receptive, and promises to help.
Now imagine that he grabs you, locks his arms around you so you are not able to move and forces a kiss on you. He then grabs your breasts. Unable to go anywhere, imagine how you are feeling as your hand is forced downward on him.
Disturbed? It is disturbing for me to write about. Most Americans believe that this very situation happened in the White House. Yet we still remain silent.
We should be ashamed.
-The writer is a senior majoring in political science and history.