Why Trump Can’t Bring Himself to Mention #MeToo

This article first appeared on Verdict.

The #MeToo movement is about the oppression of women and children by the powerful, and usually powerful men.

Neither women and children nor #MeToo played any part in the 2018 State of the Union speech by President Donald Trump.

I know, I know. This is not surprising, but it needs to be noticed and preserved as part of the history of this administration and era.

Sometimes it is unfair to criticize a speech for not including a topic, but when #MeToo is the issue in 2018, it is more than fair—it’s mandatory.

Victims of sex abuse, assault, and harassment have been pouring into the public square since Trump was elected president. To be sure, the trend of disclosure was rolling previously, but the pace undoubtedly sped up during the Trump administration. That may have been inevitable, but it also might have been in response to his despicable character on these issues.

He’s got a sordid history with women, including over a dozen women alleging sexual misconduct, disgusting statements on tape, and the payoff of a porn star to grease his way into the White House.

He’s no better on children. He actually supported alleged pedophile Roy Moore for US Senate and strolled through the dressing room for beauty pageant contestants who were as young as 15.

GettyImages-890353342 Rachel Crooks at a press conference held by women accusing Trump of sexual harassment in NYC, on December 11, 2017 in New York City. Monica Schipper/Getty

Mere hours after Trump ended his speech with no acknowledgment of the epidemic of sex abuse, assault, and harassment, the headlines pivoted to the sentencing of serial pedophile Dr. Larry Nassar, who was accused of sexually abusing 265 young gymnasts.

This was the man who a female judge forced to listen to 156 women for days as they read often lengthy and gut-wrenching victim impact statements. Strong, successful Olympic heroes were brought to tears telling him how he had destroyed them. The country has paid attention, closely.

Nassar was a man like Trump who believed that he could indefinitely deflect questions about sex assault. So did those around him.

The USOC and USA Gymnastics have done nothing for these victims except utter empty and insincere truisms. USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University bought into Nassar’s diversions for years. The result of the disclosures—which is the least that needs to be done in both institutions—has been that heads have rolled.

Think about this contrast: the president of the United States pretends to be oblivious to the #MeToo movement because he is part of it, while the justice system spotlights and sanctions a serial sex abuser who attacked Olympic idols. Those two scenarios cannot exist simultaneously for long. And there is no putting the #MeToo genie back in the bottle.

The last thing a man like Trump is going to do is to honor the brave souls bearing witness to the ugly sexual misconduct underbelly of this culture. So it’s no surprise that the widely discussed sexual degradation of women and children played no role in his State of the Union. Like Nassar, he seems to believe that if he doesn’t acknowledge a problem, those around him will forget about it.

But wait, why is it that Trump can get away with his sexual misconduct in the very middle of the public square while Nassar cannot?

Why was Nassar brought to account, but Trump can get a 75 percent positive rating for his SOTU that ignores one of the most important movements in the country right now?

The answer is always the same: the people around the bad guy continue to have his back, presumably because they believe that they won’t be held accountable either.

For Trump, it’s because the Republicans and evangelicals are propping him up. The Republicans supported alleged pedophile Roy Moore, and the evangelicals have given Trump a pass on paying off a porn star. They are willing to be complicit in his sexual misconduct so long as he shapes the federal government into a mirror of their faith by granting them rights to discriminate against LGBT and creating barriers to women’s reproductive healthcare.

In other words, he has bought their acquiescence into his sinful and immoral behavior.

If you haven’t read Alice in Wonderland recently, pick it up again. The Republicans are now officially on the other side of the looking glass. The party that used to stand for “family values” now delivers standing ovations to the antithesis of their values. They have made a deal with the devil. Like USA Gymnastics and MSU, they will be held to account, and forced to repent for their inaction.

Trump’s silence in the face of wrongdoing will become their wrongdoing. That is the core message of the #MeToo movement, which was the elephant in the House chamber this week.

Marci A. Hamilton is the Fox Professor of Practice and Fox Family Pavilion Resident Senior Fellow in the Program for Research on Religion in the Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania; the founder, CEO, and Academic Director of the nonprofit think tank to prevent child abuse and neglect, CHILD USA, and author of God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty and Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children.

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