If there is one characteristic that differentiates powerful men from the average person it would be their inherent belief in their infallibility or, at the very least, the correctness of their visions, but often times, their assertion turns out to be shallow. The saga of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF Managing Director and one of the most powerful men in the world, is a case study. Currently under an indictment for alleged unlawful imprisonment, attempted rape and sexual battery of a hotel maid in New York, Strauss-Kahn, like many disgraced powerful men before him, is simply human, therefore prone to moral deficiencies and lapses of judgment associated with the specie. Though many are saying that the infamous incident was bound to happen because of Strauss-Kahn’s longstanding reputation as a ladies’ man with “voracious appetites”, the conclusion is superfluous and at best erroneous. Many Casanovas have never assaulted women and are, despite the immoral aspect and societal revulsions to promiscuity, consistently glorified in this patriarchal world. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and other famous serial philanderers would be appalled at the suggestion that “having voracious appetites for women” may be an indicator of future sexual assaults.
A man many believed was destined to become France’s next president, Strauss-Kahn, instead of being vilified, should inspire compassion and a rational assessment of human flaws. I doubt that victims’ advocates and hardcore feminists would agree with that premise. Of course, forcing anyone to do anything against his or her will is a crime, but the rationale behind the infamous encounter with the hotel maid (effective control of another human being) is inherent to the power that makes Dominique Strauss-Kahn one of the most powerful men in the world. Was it arrogance, the most conspicuous aspect of power? Arrogance may or may not have been a factor, as it is a variable rather than constant psychological state that surfaces depending on the circumstances. In view of the fact that only Dominique Strauss-Kahn can indubitably describe his frame of mind during that fateful encounter, we may never know whether arrogance was the catalyst despite the speculations of many renowned psychologists and pundits.
His political enemies and detractors may rejoice at his fall from grace, but they, too, must not see themselves as paragon of virtues because they are sitting on the same platform that caved in under Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The sight of one of the world’s most powerful men looking haggard and scared, though satisfying to his detractors and enemies, invites introspections of human frailties. Though he has since resigned, Strauss-Kahn’s every decision, as managing director of the IMF (International Monetary Fund), affected the lives of billions of people around the globe, and many of them were never reasonable and could certainly be considered crimes against humanity. Thus, technically, Strauss-Kahn’s alleged sexual battery is not his first instance of poor judgment and only crime.
Though the prevailing notion of infallibility of powerful men has consistently been discredited, we remain intrinsically fixated to it nonetheless, which makes it harder for even intelligent people to understand the logic behind Strauss-Kahn’s alleged actions on that particular day. His allies in the French Socialist Party see Strauss-Kahn as the victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by President Nicolas Sarkozy, the man who would benefit the most from Strauss-Kahn’s legal troubles. “There is now a totally structured and orchestrated campaign, which has already been announced by Mr. Sarkozy and his closest allies, to attack the character of Strauss-Kahn” said Jean-Marie Le Guen, a French Socialist politician, in an unambiguous defense of his fellow comrade. Dirty tricks are as old as politic itself, but the notion of a plot by Sarkozy and his allies in this unpleasant and surreal episode is definitely a stretch. With the victim being Muslim and Strauss-Kahn Jewish, Le Guen may have another conspiracy theory in which Sarkozy enlisted the help of Iran’s Ahmadinejad to bring down his powerful rival notwithstanding the French president’s own Jewish roots.
Defending a friend and ally is one thing, not understanding the victim is another; a reality Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s allies and supporters may never grasp because a politician’s sexual peccadilloes are inconsequential in French politics. Therefore and more than anything else, Le Guen’s statement had something to do with him being French. A US politician would have said: Once the facts come out, we expect Strauss-Kahn to be vindicated, a statement more in line with the accused “presumed innocence” than an unconditional support for a fellow politician in trouble. Unfortunately, Mr. Le Guen’s statement epitomizes a widely held view that powerful men, like Strauss-Kahn, could never commit such offense as it would be out of character. During the course of this affair, the alleged victim will be crucified and a chronology of her entire life spam would surface. Many, like Mr. Le Guen, would see the woman as a pawn in a game too complicated for her to understand while others may perceive her as a wicked individual trying to bring down a “man of character.”
Sexual battery on a person is a serious offense that leaves the victim permanently traumatized and no one should escape the legal consequences. However, until Strauss-Kahn is found guilty of the charges, he should enjoy the status of presumed innocent and the case not tried in the court of public opinion. Fairness demands it, regardless of one’s attitude toward the disgraced former IMF managing director.
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