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The Stunning Hypocrisy of Making Excuses for Accused Rapists

Posted on May 19 2011 6:04 pm
Seth Mandel is the former managing editor of four New Jersey-based newspapers, where he won awards for his coverage of the Middle East and Russia. He has appeared on Shalom TV's current affairs roundtable. He is currently based in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @SethAMandel
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In the wake of IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest for sexual assault (he is now former IMF chief), DSK and his friends have offered numerous defenses on his behalf—most of which have been ridiculed, and rightly so.

Here are a few of the best of them, all rejected immediately by the American public.

There’s the pretrial conviction complaint:

Well, clearly, the entire system is flawed. I mean, you have a case, a prosecution, that doesn’t care about the rules of justice… And makes it near impossible to defend ourselves. I mean, it’s basically, like convicting us today.

Questioning why we take the victim’s word for what happened:

But what was shocking is the fact that [the judge] chose to come up with a decision of prima facie, to come up with virtually a judgment, confirming and strengthening the entire case of the prosecution; credibility of the witness, all the ingredients have been supported.

And, of course, the political conspiracy:

Well, I’m not surprised by the decision of the judge, because I understand the system. This is a trumped up charge, politically motivated, there’s no basis in fact and law.

I’m sorry—my mistake. Those were all quotes from another high-powered opposition candidate charged with sexual assault. This guy—unlike DSK—has been fortunate enough to have the Western elite buy his story wholesale. It’s Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim, a media darling.

Anwar is currently on trial for sexual assault—for forcing himself on an aide. Of course the presumption of innocence until proven guilty is an important pillar of justice, and should not be discarded. Anwar’s accusers should have to prove their case, especially because Anwar is the opposition leader and he was once jailed on trumped-up charges for political reasons. But Anwar’s argument has not been that he is innocent so much as he doesn’t think there should be a trial at all—that he should be taken at his word, and that the public should assume all charges against him are political in nature. That is, to be sure, incompatible with our conception of a fair trial.

Furthermore, if there is reason for skepticism of Anwar’s accusers, there is also reason not to take Anwar at his word. Anwar professes the values of freedom and democracy, but how does that square with his decades-long involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood, or his sinister anti-Semitism—strong enough that B’nai B’rith urged American officials to cut ties with him?

Anwar’s defenders, like Paul Wolfowitz and Al Gore (“the timing of these new charges carries the strong odor of political manipulation”) as well as Joe Klein (“He is a wise, decent and courageous man”) sound an awful lot like DSK’s defenders Ben Stein (“Can anyone tell me any economists who have been convicted of violent sex crimes?”) and Bernard-Henri Levy (“the Strauss-Kahn I know… bears no resemblance to this monster, this caveman, this insatiable and malevolent beast now being described nearly everywhere”).

The point is not that DSK deserves the Anwar treatment, or vice versa. It’s that Anwar doesn’t deserve the Anwar treatment. And certainly Anwar’s accuser has earned the right to make his accusation without the international community putting him on trial in the court of public opinion.

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