I’m a little ashamed of myself. I’ve done to Cosby exactly what I caution people to never do, unless an accused person’s actions have been substantively witnessed and recorded – like the police who killed Eric Garner. Without the benefit of legal discovery or a trial, I had already convicted Cosby in my mind.
Although only a handful of his accusers claim to have been actually raped by Cosby, I had decided in my mind that he is guilty of serially raping almost 50 women. I didn’t bother to learn what these women have actually accused Dr. Cosby of doing to them. And I didn’t question my right or ability to judge him either, until I watched this video last night … and realized that I am a hypocrite, as well as a victim of the fine art of misdirection, which Wikipedia defines as:
Misdirection is a form of deception in which the attention of an audience is focused on one thing in order to distract its attention from another.
And perhaps many of us are.
As one of the wealthiest and most admired black men in the world until recently, Cosby’s career and personal power could have seemed like potential challenges to control held by the less than 1% – the few families that currently dominate the world’s wealth and resources. Could they have decided it would be wise to tear Cosby down and then gone about engineering the sexual accusations and the light-speed destruction of an iconic figure’s career, reputation and public influence?
Well, I don’t know. What I do know is, that a presidential election is coming later this year and that concurrently, America and democracy are facing some of the most serious challenges that could possibly exist.
A prominent Republican candidate wants to mark or deport millions of people of color; the American middle class and the public education system are under attack and crumbling. Families like the Bushes have shamelessly benefited from war profiteering; the multi-billionaire Waltons underpay their Walmart workers and teach them how to supplement meager incomes with foodstamps; the ALEC consortium writes legislation for Republican politicians that is being used to erase rights and access for millions of constituents.
The most important democratic tool the world has ever known – the internet – is under constant assault by the super-wealthy who see it as the extreme threat to concentrated wealth, power and mass public ignorance, that it truly is.
- Will not allow Pres. Obama to repair America’s transportation infrastructure.
- Have their Congressional allies lobbing continual strikes to disable Obamacare, and quality healthcare for tens of millions of Americans.
- Want to shut down the United States Postal Service, which is pledged to democratically and impartially facilitate communication to every resident of our country, based on the pretense that it is bankrupt. In fact, the USPS is extremely solvent but skilled financial and public perception manipulators have created the appearance that it is experiencing financial trouble.
- Are advancing a plan to extract oil from Canada and the US and sell it overseas – making Americans suffer the consequences of earthquakes and pollution from fracking, destruction from laying and using transcontinental pipelines and the destruction of nature which accompanies oil removal – without compensating benefits, which will accrue only to the wealthy.
- Have privatized essential services which society relies on, on so many levels: nursing homes and elder care; school food service; food production and delivery; transportation industries; military support and strike teams (like Blackwater); energy production and delivery; water systems and infrastructure (in New Jersey, only half of the municipal water systems are still publicly owned – the rest have been privatized); trash and garbage pickup. Prisons. Parks. Communication systems.
- Control the American people’s right to assemble by shifting communities away from commerce and recreational centers at the street level to enclosed mega shopping malls which give the illusion of being public space, when actually they are well-controlled and monitored, spaces which are privately owned.
And what do these wealthy and powerful individuals want us to wonder about, discuss amongst ourselves, spend time pondering and researching? Right: not the incursions on our privacy, on our civil liberties, the restrictions on our access to grow and eat healthy food and live in a world where bees thrive and chemicals injected into plants’ DNA are not killing them and our families; not the attempts to pass the TPP, a trade agreement which would remove justice from our court system and put its control in the hands of major corporations; not our internet freedom that they are spending billions of dollars trying to limit our access to.
No, none of this. They want us to talk about Dr. Bill Cosby and debate whether he is guilty of sexual crimes. But the true crime is the amount of corporate supported media coverage being dedicated to deflect America’s attention from matters of true relevance to the public defamation of an icon.
And as for us, our willing obsession with Cosby’s fate and actions might spring from feelings of frustration over having no real power to prevent the ultra-rich from taking over our society and destroying our rights. Most of struggle to even perceive the subtle means by which they are incrementally separating us from advantages and protections we thought were guaranteed to citizens of the world’s most powerful democracy.
While we may feel unqualified to understand these weighty societal matters – much less do anything about them – we can believe in our ability to understand exactly what Bill Cosby is being accused of and in our qualifications to judge him.
Except, we aren’t qualified. We are in possession not of facts, but of a media storm of sound bytes and opinions about the “case” against Cosby. We do not know much about the women who are Cosby’s accusers and as is true for me, we may not even know what Cosby is accused of having actually done to them. Unlike with public and governmental matters, the Cosby case involves private people and settings. After reflection, I am willing to admit that I lack true knowledge of events concerning Cosby that took place behind closed doors and even lack the ability to learn the truth. Plus, none of this is really any of my business.
So, my advice to self is: stop trying to judge Cosby. I’m not qualified on any level to do this, and I should better return my attention to issues that are relevant to my life and I can really affect.
The truth is, that we all have plenty of power in matters of public record and import. Just to name a some of them:
We have the power to investigate; the power to discern truth through our investigations; the power to vote in politicians willing to fight for the rights and protections of us as the 99%; the power to boycott with our dollars the businesses of the super-wealthy; the power to identify ways to disengage from the controls of privatization through forming collaboratives, building strong local communities and finding ways to withdraw from reliance on mega food and energy systems; the power to stop shopping as a hobby; the power to support small businesses when we shop for what we need; the power to make healthy food choices and re-connect with the food we eat; the power to enjoy creativity through the arts and health through biking and walking … and much else.
In the world of attacks and imposition of limitations, there will always be winners and losers. But in the world of fairness, hope, justice and communication there are only winners. I know what I want to be.
And you – what about you?
Thanks Nathaniel Davis for and sharing this cautionary information about the wisdom of not believing the hype.