“I believe the women, yes.”
With that statement, about accounts of lecherous behavior and child molestation by the Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said words that thousands of victims of sexual harassment and assault have waited in vain to hear.
Perhaps nobody should hold her breath expecting this will bring real, lasting change. Mr. Moore is too much of an extremist, making him already unpopular for even Republican leaders. But the flood of accusations against famous men in entertainment, the news media and politics has raised hope that women can come forward without fear to seek justice.
Mr. McConnell and a growing list of other Republicans have been pressing Mr. Moore to quit the race after four women — Leigh Corfman, Wendy Miller, Gloria Thacker Deason and Debbie Wesson Gibson — told The Washington Post that Mr. Moore had pursued them as teenagers when he was a prosecutor in his 30s. Ms. Corfman said that when she was 14, in his home, Mr. Moore undressed her to her underwear and placed her hand on his crotch. The molestation troubled her for years, she said. On Monday, a fifth woman, Beverly Young Nelson, said that when she was 16, Mr. Moore molested her in his car. The Post corroborated points of the first four women’s stories with friends and relatives, providing the kind of bulletproofing that women need when they accuse powerful men.
Mr. Moore’s accusers kept silent for years for fear of what’s happening now: their past relationships, family, friends, finances, political affiliations and every vowel and consonant of their stories being mined in a partisan effort to discredit them. The authors of the warped Pizzagate conspiracy fiction have revealed personal details about Ms. Corfman online. Breitbart, house organ of Steve Bannon’s solipsistic revolution, fruitlessly dispatched two “reporters” to Alabama to sift through the women’s lives for nuggets to shame them.
We’ve been here before. Some Democrats maligned the women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment, molestation and rape as looney tunes and trailer trash. A little more than a year ago, Mr. McConnell and other Republicans shrugged when our current president’s accusers were savaged and threatened with violence, despite his recorded acknowledgment of sexual assault.
Let’s acknowledge the Republicans who affirm the honesty of Mr. Moore’s accusers, and reject him, even if it means victory for his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones. And let’s hope, against the odds, that the acceptance of these women’s stories sets an example for how such accusations can be dealt with for all women.Continue reading the main story