It's no secret I detest Donald Trump. The thing that repels me most is the arrogance and bellicosity he inspires in his followers. It's hardly unprecedented, but this year is particularly vicious, distasteful and garbage-strewn, given the added narcissism fueled by social media.
That said, not everything bad can be laid at The Donald's Ferragamo-clad feet. Some events have been blown out of proportion precisely because the GOP front-runner has created such a toxic environment that people jump at the opportunity to paint him and his campaign in the worst light.
Corey Lewandowski, Trump's campaign director, was charged this week with misdemeanor battery in Florida after he allegedly manhandled a reporter at a Trump news conference. Michelle Fields, formerly with the Breitbart organization, claimed to have been grabbed by the arm and pushed away from the candidate when she tried to ask him a question. Later that day, she tweeted photos of a bruise on her arm.
Initially, Lewandowski denied knowing Fields, much less assaulting her. The Trump campaign called her a liar. Then, video was released (by the Trump campaign) that clearly showed Lewandowski grabbing Fields and pushing her back. She didn't fall, but that was only because of her great reflexes, not any chivalry from Trump Inc.
Now, Lewandowski has lawyered up, and Trump is defending his guy. Because, you know, Trump is loyal. He also refused to apologize, which is straight from the bully playbook.
Even though I'm disgusted with Trump's brand of politicking, what is beginning to really anger me is the attempt to frame what happened to Fields as violence against women instead of a regular, albeit unacceptable, political street brawl.
Almost immediately after Fields tweeted her bruise, commentators started to conflate Trump's established misogyny (a full-throated, old-fashioned, anti-metrosexual strain) with abuse. Conservative female commentators, not the kind you'd expect to be whiners, came out with a manifesto demanding that Trump fire Lewandowski.
Now, I'm no fan of Trump's macho swagger, but I also don't like the reflexive "woe is me for being a woman" in evidence whenever a woman is not treated like a Faberge egg.
Let me be very clear: I condemn any use of violence against innocent victims, be they women, children or men. I also am acutely aware of the scourge of domestic violence both in the United States and in the world, having experienced it personally, as well as in my immigration practice. I defend abused women against deportation. I am close to women who have been abused. I know, intimately, about broken bones and bruises.
But it's wrong to conflate what happened to Fields, something that has happened to me when trying to squeeze on a train at rush hour, with actual abuse. It politicizes a very serious subject, and trivializes it for greater entertainment value when it should be treated gingerly and with respect.
The minute I saw the tweeted bruise and the fact that the alleged victim was a woman, I knew this would last throughout several news cycles. I mean, if making gross attacks on Megyn Kelly's propensity to bleed became a weeklong headline, it was inevitable that a case of actual, physical contact between a male Trump supporter and a woman would be a cause celebre. And while Trump deserves all the criticism in the world for his buffoonery, boorishness and arrogance, it doesn't mean he should be painted as some political Bluebeard. It's lazy opportunism, and harms a worthy cause.
It's the same thing that's happened with this ridiculous crusade against "date rape" and the so-called rape culture on campuses. To equate a bad date and mixed signals with the real violence of rape leads to cases such as that at the University of Virginia, and other false accusations. It's wrong, dangerous, and dishonors real victims.
That's why I'm angry about this attempt to frame what happened to Fields as "abuse." She was pushed, she was pulled, she probably, under the law, was "assaulted." But she should not be an example of domestic violence, or proof positive that the Trump campaign supports beating up on women.
Trump is a lot of things, but he's not Stanley Kowalski. This just doesn't pass the smell test. And that's saying a lot, for such a foul-smelling campaign.