There's a growing backlash to the post-debate story involving Donald Trump's jihad against a former Miss Universe contestant, Alicia Machado. The backlash, amazingly, is coming from certain voices on the left who believe the story is a distraction from the real issues. Since at least two of those voices are friends, you'll have to forgive me for not naming names here. Regardless, these otherwise smart, hard-working progressive A-listers seem to think the coverage of the story is just another news media sideshow. Leave it to the left to come up with a wafer-thin excuse to allow a feeble, impotent bully more latitude than he deserves by over-thinking it.
Sure, it's a sideshow if you think GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, an obese, short-fingered vulgarian and the entirety of his misshapen fanboys accosting and embarrassing a woman for having been a pound or two beyond what's acceptable as "beautiful" to the gluttonous patriarchy is a distraction, fine. If you think slandering and libeling this woman by accusing her to 11 million followers on Twitter of having been involved in a sex tape, even though she wasn't, is a distraction, fine.
But you'd be horrendously wrong.
There's nothing distracting about calling out a powerful and wealthy celebrity demagogue for being misogynistic against a noncombatant in the political realm. There's nothing distracting about highlighting Trump's unforgivable body-and-slut-shaming of Machado simply because she's a woman who happens to have been caught in the televised crossfire. There's nothing distracting about laser-focusing attention on gender inequality, sexism and the myriad issues still confronting women during an allegedly enlightened era in which men should know better but don't. There's nothing distracting about being forced to observe and confront flagrant woman-hating in critical focus, especially during a presidential election.
I'm talking specifically about this:
If these videos didn't make you squirm at best or seethe with rage at worst, you need to review the videos again and again until you've linked up with the outrage and empathy cortices of your brain because these are the appropriate reactions to the sight of a wealthy white man subjugating and intimidating a Latina who was treated like a talking, dancing chunk of meat in the face of gawking male reporters.
It's easy to nearsightedly label it as a tabloid cover story. I get it. But what this assessment neglects is that the story speaks directly to one of the major aspects of the 2016 presidential campaign narrative: women overcoming an embedded male-dominated system in which scenes like these are played out every day in every town in the land of the free. And Trump, who's vowed to "take the gloves off" in the next debate, as if he wasn't childishly obnoxious enough the first time, shows no signs of stopping.
The nearly universal revilement at the proud misogyny of a presidential candidate is helping to illustrate obvious and continued gender inequality, and there's nothing frivolous or non-issue-oriented about it. Indeed, inequality and the dominance of the white male aristocracy is and has been a major issue of our time. Whether it's protesting against income inequality, or campaigning against police violence and racial injustices; whether it's transgender acceptance, same-sex marriage rights, voting rights, or highlighting why the Equal Rights Amendment has yet to be ratified, these are the top-shelf issues of our time.
Trump's monstrous crusade against Machado and, yes, Hillary Clinton for being strong women couldn't be more relevant to the stakes of this election. And while it's fun to imagine a world in which Trump and his legion of Pepe the Frogs didn't behave like this, to ignore it only empowers the oppressors, tempting more episodes just like this one, rather than relentlessly and full-throatedly combating it.