October 01, 2009

The liberal elite does Polanski

Roman Polanski raped an adolescent. You can call is 'statutory,' because that is the legal term. But this wasn't a nineteen year old boy hunky-punkying with his seventeen year old girlfriend. The victim was 13. It was rape. Furthermore, given that Polanski was a famous director who encountered the victim in his scope as Vogue guest editor, and knowing what kind of career door opener a photo in Vogue is, this "relationship" would have stunk to high heaven even if the victim were nineteen and Polanski's account of it were true. Regardless of age, it would still be sexual assault and rape if half of what the victim described were true, as it almost certainly is.

Polanski then fled the U.S. rather than risk going to prison. That is not an offense. While Polanski deserves a stint in prison for his crime, the U.S. penal system is the definition of "cruel and unusual punishment." On this ground alone, no country committed to human rights should extradite a person to the U.S. to face a prison term, even as, in this case, that person fully deserves a prison term. On the other hand, there is no harm in remembering Polanski was able to flee because he was given VIP treatment by the U.S. "criminal justice" system. He was not, after all, a dark skinned shoplifter in possession of marijuana, but merely a celebrity who raped a girl.

The arrest of Polanski must be seen as the sequel to the U.S. Switzerland row over UBS, whose managers provided support for tax evasion to "high net worth" U.S. taxpayers. Polanski is a sacrifice with which Switzerland hopes to ingratiate itself with the U.S. justice department after the bruising battle over bank secrecy. There are no saints here. Given the weight of its banking sector, Switzerland's tax haven status is crucial to its prosperity. The Swiss will do a lot worse to keep their share of the world's wealth. On the other hand, given that half of every dollar paid in taxes to the U.S. government goes to kill people somewhere on the globe, the rich sending their monies to secret Swiss bank accounts is almost humanitarian.

This is a story without moral high-ground. But a special dishonorable mention must goes to Polanski new friends. A long list of liberal pimps has endorsed Polansky as a aggrieved victim. Their argument can be summed up as "there are surely more important issues in the world" than celebrities raping the children of people who want their children to be celebrities. Consider that the price of admission, wink-wink, nod-nod! You just got to read Joan Z. Shore unbelievably fatuous apology for celebrity rapists. Even if you believe that Polanski should not be arrested and extradited, is making light of child rape not beyond the pale? Shore claims to be a feminist.

Then there is the tail end of the holocaust industry wagging itself shamelessly. Is there no end to the tripe that the Holocaust can be asked to carry? Claude Lanzmann, maker of the nine hour documentary of survivors' recalling of the holocaust, signed a statement circulated by Bernard-Henry-Levy, that describes Polanski as a survivor of Nazism and Stalinism as one of the reasons he should be excused. Anne Applebaum explains that Polanski's decided to flee a jail sentence because "Polanski's mother died in Auschwitz. His father survived Mauthausen. He himself survived the Krakow ghetto..." You can take it as an admission of sort that, mutatis mutandis, the U.S. prison-industrial-complex shares some noticeable affinities with the gulags of Stalin and the concepntration camps of Hitler. That was no doubt unintentional. We should not be waiting for Anne Applebaum to write something about the less glam victims of the American Gulag, people like Shifa Sadequee, jailed for the crime of being young while Muslim. You only have her sympathy if you're famous and/or a holocaust survivor. Writes Katha Politt, "The widespread support for Polanski shows the liberal cultural elite at its preening, fatuous worst." I am not convinced about the 'worst' part.

What can be expected from them? These are the people, Anne Applebaum, Claude Lanzmann, Bernard-Henri Levy, for whom the holocaust justify every murder, every brutality and every lie. They grab the Holocaust excuse, which they deploy in defense of Israel's crime de jour on average every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the way you slip into your slippers. Perhaps every perpetrator of an ugly crime who survived the holocaust reminds them of "plucky little Israel". Perhaps the "liberal cultural elite" is so used to defending the indefensible that it has become second nature.


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