Justin Baldoni wants to start a dialogue with men about redefining masculinity — to figure out ways to be not just good men but good humans. In a warm, personal talk, he shares his effort to reconcile who he is with who the world tells him a man should be. And he has a challenge for men: “See if you can use the same qualities that you feel make you a man to go deeper,” he says. “Your strength, your bravery, your toughness: Are you brave enough to be vulnerable? Are you strong enough to be sensitive? Are you confident enough to listen to the women in your life?”
“If somebody can be brought down by accusations like this, then you, me, every man certainly should be worried.”
— A lawyer close to the White House, speaking to Politico
.. If, apparently, a single alleged assault at a single party decades ago is to be frowned upon, then no man is safe, right?
.. What’s next? You can’t harass a colleague and serve on the Supreme Court? You can’t pick up high schoolers outside custody hearings and serve in the Senate? You can’t have a meat locker full of female femurs and expect to breeze through your confirmation as interior secretary?
.. How are we going to fill our offices if this is the new rule? I bet you will say I cannot shout at women as they pass on the street before dragging them to a concrete bunker and then still expect to become governor! What next? I’m supposed to make sure everyone I have sex with is willing?
If suddenly, as a country, we decide that violently attempting to assault someone is, like, bad, then that knocks out 98, maybe 99 percent of men, just going off the locker-room talk I’ve heard.
Look, which of us is 100 percent certain all his sexual encounters are consensual? That isn’t most people’s baseline, surely? You’re telling me I am supposed to encounter dozens, hundreds, thousands of women in my life, some drunk and some sober and some with really good legs and just … not assault any of them?
.. there ought to be some kind of punch card — say, if you treat 65 women with the respect and dignity you would accord any man, you are entitled to one freebie.
.. I mean, it’s not as though they’re people, are they? At the moment of conception, yes, but then they come out Daughters, not people! They grow into objects; some become Wives or Mothers, others Hags or Crones. Then they die! If they were people, we would not expect dominion over their bodies, surely; if they were people, we would not feel entitled to their smiles. If they were people, I could read a novel with a female protagonist and not be instantly confused and alarmed.
.. They are to be put on pedestals, as John Kelly urges, or groped, as the president urges. They are impervious to cold, capable of wearing a bikini on the most frigid day to please us; they can run great distances in heels without discomfort; they were created for us from a rib and designed as our companion. If they have wants of their own, there is really no way of knowing.
.. It would just be too terrible if they were people. Then you could not harm them with impunity. Then if you made a mistake (Boys will be boys), you would have harmed a person. Then something else would be at stake in addition to your career, and that cannot be.
.. Besides, if this is wrong, if you have to go through life inconveniently believing that the other half of the world is made of people, too, then what will boys do for innocent amusement? Who among us was not once 17 and partook in a little roughhousing? How were we to know there was — purportedly! — a person in there? Who cannot, in retrospect, be accused of something dreadful? This isn’t just me, I hope.
No, if this is the rule, no man is safe. Not the man who shouts at you as you walk down the sidewalk, or grabs you, or puts something in your drink. As all men do, I think.
.. If assault renders a man unfit to serve on the Supreme Court, then how are we to discern the Founders’ intent? I mean, Jefferson, hello? And what is going to become of the presidency? Who wants to live in that world?
Every man should be worried. If boys cannot be boys, then how can boys be men who rise to the highest offices in the land? If this stops being something you can get away with, then will anyone still be above the law?
Every man should be worried.
At least, I’m worried.
No president since Richard Nixon has embraced the weaponized rhetoric of “law and order” as avidly as Mr. Trump. “When I take the oath of office next year, I will restore law and order to our country,” he said during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in 2016. “I will work with, and appoint, the best prosecutors and law enforcement officials in the country to get the job properly done. In this race for the White House, I am the law and order candidate.”
Time and again, the president denounces “illegals” and “criminals” and the “American carnage” they wreak on law-abiding Americans. He even advised an audience of police officers to rough up suspects they were arresting.
.. Yet this tough-guy stance disappears when the accused are in the president’s inner circle. In defending Rob Porter, the White House senior aide accused of abuse by both of his ex-wives, the president wondered whatever happened to due process while praising a man accused of giving his wife a black eye. (Mr. Porter denies the abuse.)
.. Where was this concern for due process, they asked, when the president and his supporters chanted “Lock her up” about Hillary Clinton, who hadn’t even been formally accused of a crime? Where was his devotion to due process when he called for the Central Park Five to be executed, and then, after their exoneration, still maintained that they were guilty?
.. The president’s boundless benefit of the doubt for the Rob Porters and Roy Moores of the world, combined with off-with-their-heads capriciousness for immigrants accused of even minor crimes, is not a contradiction. It is the expression of a consistent worldview that he campaigned on and has pursued in office.
.. In this view, crime is not defined by a specific offense. Crime is defined by who commits it. If a young black man grabs a white woman by the crotch, he’s a thug and deserves to be roughed up by police officers. But if Donald Trump grabs a white woman by the crotch in a nightclub (as he’s accused of doing, and denies), it’s locker-room high jinks.
This view is also expressed by many of the president’s staff members, supporters and prominent allies. During the same week that the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, repeatedly vouched for Rob Porter’s integrity, Mr. Kelly also mused that hundreds of thousands of unauthorized immigrants who did not fill out the paperwork for DACA protections had refused to “get off their asses.”
A political movement that rails against “immigrant crime” while defending alleged abusers and child molesters is one that has stopped pretending to have any universalist aspirations.
The president’s moral framework springs from an American tradition of cultivating fear and contempt among its white citizens against immigrants, indigenous people and people of color, who are placed on the other side of “the law.” It’s a practice that has taken on new strength at a time when many white people fear they may be outnumbered, outvoted and out of time.
This is the opposite of what we like to tell ourselves is the traditional American civic creed: one symbolized by a blindfolded Lady Justice who applies the law without fear or favor to whoever may come before her. It is one of Mr. Trump’s most insidious victories that he has given his supporters permission to drop any pretense of insisting that their actions and views should conform to this principle.
If all that matters when it comes to “law and order” is who is a friend and who is an enemy, and if friends are white and enemies are black or Latino or in the wrong party, then the rhetoric around crime and punishment stops being about justice and is merely about power and corruption.
And this is what “law and order” means: the preservation of a certain social order, not the rule of law.
.. The history of the United States is the story of a struggle between the desire to establish certain universal rights and the countervailing desire to preserve a particular social order.
We are now witnessing a president who wholly embraces the latter. America can have that kind of social order, or it can have justice for all. But it can’t have both.
“Personally, I think he shouldn’t have settled,” Mr. Trump told Times reporters in a wide-ranging interview. “Because you should have taken it all the way; I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”
“I think he’s a person I know well,” Mr. Trump said. “He is a good person.”
.. But the president has a particular rapport with Mr. O’Reilly, whose hectoring braggadocio and no-apologies nostalgia for a bygone American era mirror Mr. Trump’s own.
.. Mr. Trump called it “locker room talk” and apologized for the remarks. Mr. O’Reilly, on air that evening, allowed that the tape was “an embarrassment” for the Republican nominee. But he also criticized The Washington Post, the newspaper that published the footage.
.. But Mr. Trump’s advice to his friend on Wednesday — that Mr. O’Reilly “shouldn’t have settled” — was consistent with the never-back-down ethos of a president, and former real estate magnate, who relishes the counterattack.
.. Fox News’s prime time and morning hosts are blatant champions of the administration — to the extent that NBC News’s chairman, Andrew Lack, recently compared the network to “state broadcasting.”
.. Mr. Murdoch’s former wife, Wendi Deng, is so close with Ivanka Trump that the president’s daughter became a trustee of the Murdoch children’s fortune.
.. Mr. Murdoch, meanwhile, had mentored Ms. Trump’s future husband, Jared Kushner, in the art of media moguldom after his purchase of The New York Observer in 2006.
.. Mr. Trump’s kind words for Mr. O’Reilly on Wednesday seemed a reciprocal gesture of sorts, from a leader who values loyalty.