To: Mr. David Keene, Opinion Editor, The Washington Times
The recently disclosed 2005 tape of Donald Trump making vulgar remarks about groping women has angered many factions on both the right and the left. Voters and politicians alike are arguing that someone who speaks in such a crude and inappropriate fashion should be neither the symbolic figurehead of our nation nor a role model for young Americans.
These sentiments are criticized in a recent editorial published by The Washington Times. The article, titled “The real ‘P’ word is Policy, Stupid,” attempts to make the case that people should instead focus on Mr. Trump’s policies rather than toiling over “empty words.” Of course, the media and the public should focus on policies and issues, but I would argue that any discussion of Mr. Trump’s remarks naturally leads to a conversation about a pivotal issue in the modern world, that is, the treatment of women by individuals and societies.
In short, I ardently disagree with the notion that Mr. Trump’s remarks are “empty words.” Like many other people, what offends me most is not the words he used, but rather his attempt to legitimize this as how men normally talk when women are not around to hear. As a man, I am embarrassed to think that other men in this day and age think it is acceptable to talk about women with such objectivity and disrespect. As Michelle Obama said this week, “To dismiss this as everyday ‘locker room talk’ is an insult to decent men everywhere.”
Since the tape’s release, Mr. Trump, his supporters, and the conservative media have frantically attempted to shift attention and blame to the left by reporting about Bill Clinton’s similarly questionable treatment of women. However, referencing Bill Clinton’s indiscretions neither excuses nor legitimizes those of Mr. Trump. We should not tolerate indecent behavior simply because revered people on both sides are alleged to have done it.
The article insists that there is no reason to be outraged over Mr. Trump’s comments because it is not without precedent for politicians to speak crudely. Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson are cited as previous presidents who employed “salty language,” language that would make current politicians’ “delicate skin crawl.” Firstly, this article does not account for the historical context. Remarkable progress has been made over the last two centuries to improve the treatment of women in America. To continue making progress, it is essential that today’s political leaders are held to today’s standards of respect and decency towards women. Secondly, taking offense at remarks that belong in another era does not identify one as a possessor of “delicate skin.” Rather, it means that they understand the importance of condemning such cavalier and nonchalant chatter about actions that negatively impact the wellbeing of countless women worldwide.
Perhaps the P-word with which we should concern ourselves most is “propriety.”
Benjamin Porter | 21 October, 2016