The fall and rise of America

PHOTO: Duncan C., Flickr CC

Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an Iron Range blogger, author, radio producer and columnist for the Hibbing Daily Tribune.

What are we going to do with all these fallen public figures? The ones who harass. The ones who abuse their power. It’s one thing to throw them all out of office, get them fired, or shame them into resignation. But then what?

Do we put them on a bus? Where do we send that bus? It’d be an act of war to send it over the border, so that’s probably not wise.

Do we send them downtown to work in the soup kitchen? Can they make soup? Is that fair to our local indigent population? They’ve already been through so much.

Perhaps we should send them out to chop wood. Lots of people need firewood in the winter. I don’t know if we want these guys handling axes, but far enough out in the woods it might be OK. Maybe a non-problem kind of problem.

In seriousness, this column was originally going to be a review of Sen. Al Franken’s latest book. Though I liked the book, I pulled the piece given recent reports of Franken’s behavior on a USO tour in 2006. In my original column, my argument was that Franken had figured out how to reflect on a career in edgy, sometimes offensive comedy while still establishing a new life as an earnest, effective public figure. That ruling was, quite obviously, premature.

Whatever you think about the story, it’s just one of many stories of women telling their stories about sexual harassment as part of the #metoo movement.

A friend of mine asked me if the world was going mad the other day. I think it’s more like bursting steam pipes. Pressures building for a long time — on the economy, on the culture, on race and religion — now explode from decaying valves and fittings.

It starts with a presidential candidate recorded saying some of the most vile things about women ever captured on tape. He won the election anyway, further stoking the pressure. The stress keeps building with a Hollywood producer exposed for decades of abuse against women. A famous comedian. A top political reporter. A Senate candidate in Alabama. And now Franken’s mess. In all cases, women afraid of reprisal finally found courage to speak of haunting episodes in the hope they won’t happen again.

Some of these abusers are Republicans and some are Democrats. (The same is true of the victims). What matters more is what the offenders did and what they’re doing about it now.

Do they stonewall the story or shame the victims? Or do they apologize, speak honestly, listen and learn?

And us? Do we look to condemn because we feel superior? Or do we create a path to forgiveness and growth?

There has been a refrain, oft repeated by defenders of one side or another on the endlesss drone of cable television. It’s a Biblical refrain, spoken by Jesus: “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”

Contrary to the interpretation of some, this is not a license to sin. It’s a mandate to forgive those who absolve themselves and accept consequences. And to pity and pray for those who remain lost.

The most important thing to know about the #metoo movement is that the goal is not to score political points against those who at one time may have committed bad behavior. Rather, the vital imperative is to change the environment in which we live.

If you think this is about Democrats and Republicans, you’re thinking far too small. We all need to think about how to build a world where we treat others with respect, no matter who they are. And we need accountability for a power structure run amok, not only on matters of gender and harassment, but on so much more.

This is not about the fall of the wicked. It’s about the rise of America to a better destiny.

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog MinnesotaBrown.com and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio. This piece first appeared in the Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune.

Comments

  1. Do I see the Clinton name anywhere here?

    • Mentioning Clinton doesn’t fit the progressive narrative Pru. The strategy at this point is to make it an “all parties are to blame” issue. However, that’s a misleading false argument.

      60 years of a liberal, so called progressive education system steeped in the decrepit doctrine of moral relativism has degraded the American people. It has corrupted countless opinion makers, lawmakers¸ decision makers, judges…and therefore America’s culture. To undo this insidious revolution by conventional politics, exacerbated by Obama, is near impossible. Some would equate America to “Humpty-Dumpty”. But, common sense prevailed…..and therefore, Trump.

  2. And….as we all know, respect is earned, not learned. But the liberal view would be it can be taught. I confirm and rest my case.

  3. Walleye Bill says:

    The issue transcends the Clintons, politics and liberalism vs. conservatism. You did a great job describing where society needs to go Aaron. Stay on the high road!

  4. Bravo Aaron!

  5. this was unexpected and yet i think it is both important and spot on. thanks!

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