For those of you who didn’t click through, here’s the tl;dr. Sixty people sent letters defending the character of Denny Hastert to the Chicago judge sentencing Hastert in a money laundering case that exposed the former wrestling coach and U.S. Speaker of the House as a serial pedophile. His supporters had a chance to pull back their letters before they went public. Forty-one decided that they were okay with not only publicly supporting but, in some instances, minimizing the impact of Hastert’s crimes.
I can get the ones from family who can’t believe he is a monster who via his position of power and respect as a person in authority–a wrestling coach–identified and groomed boys for sexual abuse. Yeah. I would have a tough time reconciling my spouse or parent or sibling with that. Wrong, but I can see it.
But “former national and state politicians as well as local leaders, board members, police officers”? State attorney generals? Members of Congress? Ex-CIA heads?
That’s how this crap happens. People in power supporting other people in power and systematically–yes systematically, methodically and deliberately–minimizing the humanity of those who are not powerful. People like the young, the poor, the differently-able, the non-white, the non-cis, the non-hetero, and, frequently, the women.
I don’t care if the old man is in poor health. It’s not like he stole a loaf of bread to feed his family and has been chased for a lifetime while doing good. He purposefully hurt kids and then hid those crimes behind more than a million dollars in hush money. Then, when it got too hot, he said he was sorry for transgressions of “a young man.”
What does it mean that he is a “god-fearing man”? Does claiming that give a pass for preying on people? It doesn’t make sense to me.
My Bear wrestled. It was the only sport that drew my tears–not for winning or losing, but for the fierceness of the competition. Fierce. Intense. Personal. We trust our sons and our daughters to coaches, teachers and other group and club leaders. That trust should be sacrosanct no matter the power differential.
The crimes against children must not be brushed aside as a minor “flaw.” Must. Not. We need to defend the survivors, not the abusers.