“Not everyone feels [Cosby] should be punished, even if the allegations are true.” That’s not even the most powerfully dissonant statement in Max S. Gordon’s admittedly “hot mess” of an essay on the Cosby calamity at thenewcivilrightsmovement.com. Or if it’s the most dissonant, it’s not the most accusatory–Gordon writes that Cosby isn’t the only one being “accused of betrayal” but that “to some extent we all stand accused.” (Gordon draws this conclusion because for years the truth was “staring us in the face” when in fact most of us had no idea Cosby was a rapist. That information/evidence was one or two degrees, at least, removed from most of the population. Still, it was out there, to Gordon’s point.)
Gordon writes that part of the conundrum about the accusations is because Cosby had achieved the “impenetrable power of a rich white man” and that suddenly Cosby is “black-in-America” again. Those believing he’s innocent think Cosby has been “brought back to the plantation…in chains.” But it’s not just a race issue, of course. It’s a gender inequality/rape culture problem, in a world where as Gordon describes it: “A man’s denial and silence is more powerful than a woman’s assertion.” Gordon then goes on to make a horrible blanket assertion that Cosby may still be “America’s Dad” but not in the way the moniker was “originally intended.” Gordon means that rape and incest are so endemic to American culture that the nickname fits the new, accused rapist Cosby just as well as The Cosby Show Cosby. But then Gordon mercifully moves on. It’s a long astute personal essay. It’s got Obama, Rosie O’Donnell, Beverly Johnson, Anita Hill, James Baldwin and George Jefferson in it. Finally–as Gordon says at the outset–it isn’t about Cosby: “It’s about our attitudes towards women, rape, victimization and sexual violence.” It’s about far more than that, too. And Max S. Gordon gets to all of it. All of it. There hasn’t been a better, braver, more exhaustive examination.