Cancelling Operation Talon: The Double-Standard For Victims

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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A former aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently accused the governor of sexual harassment. Lindsey Boylan, the former deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to the governor, wrote an essay in Medium about these allegations. As reported by Fox News:

“She alleged Cuomo created a ‘pervasive’ culture of ‘sexual harassment and bullying.’ She detailed an incident in which Cuomo allegedly suggested the pair play ‘strip poker’ as they flew together following an event, among other instances of alleged ‘inappropriate behavior’ and harassment during her tenure at the governor’s office.”

According to the New York Post, Boylan also “accused Cuomo of kissing her ‘on the lips’ without warning in 2018.” Since then, several others have also come forward with similar accusations

Denials All Around

Unsurprisingly, Cuomo’s aides have vehemently denied these allegations. More concerning, however, is the more-timid responses coming from those who so strongly supported the #MeToo movement when Republicans were in the crosshairs (other than some in New York who have called for Cuomo to resign or to face impeachment). While it is admirable (and expected) that some Democrats have called for an investigation into the allegations against Cuomo, their reaction pales in comparison to what some Republicans were forced to endure under much less-compelling circumstances.     

One need only look back at the vicious and politicized investigations into Justice Brett Kavanaugh for a sobering reminder of this double-standard in action. At the time of his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault. Yet, despite the lack of any corroborating and/or credible evidence, some Democrats, including Kamala Harris, called for Kavanaugh’s impeachment. Another, Senator Mazie Hirono, had the audacity to explain why the presumption of innocence and due process should not apply to Kavanaugh’s case. As reported by Axios, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand “called for Kavanaugh’s nomination to be withdrawn, saying two allegations ‘is an embarrassment’” while “Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had called to postpone Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote after Christine Blasey Ford ‘won America’s hearts’ with her allegations of his drunken advances.”

The issue, of course, has nothing to do with guilt or innocence. Clearly, in the United States, those accused of wrongdoing are presumed to be innocent under our system of justice (unless they happen to be Republicans). Rather, the concern stems from the double-standard that consistently rears its ugly head when cases of this nature arise and involve public figures, including politicians and/or members of the judiciary.  

Innocent Until Proven Guilty, Except Republicans

Cuomo, like all others accused of wrongdoing, is presumed to be innocent. That presumption is the foundation of our criminal justice system and anyone who simply assumes he is guilty is doing so prematurely and erroneously. However, while Cuomo and others accused of wrongdoing enjoy the presumption of innocence, the allegations against them should not be handled differently merely because of their political leanings or party affiliation. For example, with regard to Cuomo, the New York Post reported:

“Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) issued a prepared statement in which she said, ‘All survivors of harassment and assault deserve to be heard and…have their case thoroughly investigated.’ ”

By contrast, she tweeted “#BelieveWomen” in support of Blasey Ford during Senate confirmation hearings over Brett Kavanaugh’s successful 2018 nomination to the US Supreme Court.

Allegations of this nature should be investigated. Period. They should not be utilized as a sword for political gain. Those on the left who calling for an investigation into the allegations against Cuomo are entirely correct. As reported by Fox News, quoting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “These stories are difficult to read, and the allegations brought forth raise serious questions that the women who have come forward and all New Yorkers deserve answers to.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who supports an independent investigation into the allegations, recently stated, “The women who have come forward with serious and credible charges against Governor Cuomo deserve to be heard and to be treated with dignity.” If the allegations turn out to be credible, then the proper action should be taken against Cuomo, including removal from office, formal charges (if necessary), etc.

While calls for an investigation by some on the left are commendable – assuming that they are in good faith and not made for purposes of shifting attention away from Cuomo’s alleged nursing home COVID problems – such calls do not address why some Democrats so quickly believed the allegations against Kavanaugh and called for his removal, impeachment, or withdrawal despite the absence of any corroborating evidence.

Standards for Thee But Not for Me

This isn’t the first time that some prominent Democrats were presented with such allegations against one of their own. On a separate occasion, then-former Vice President and presumptive presidential candidate Joe Biden was accused of sexual misconduct by Tara Reade. As reported by Townhall, despite Reade’s allegations, some Democrats were unwilling to help Reade while others immediately came to Biden’s defense without calling for an investigation. As a matter of fact, shortly after the allegations were publicized, Pelosi endorsed Biden for president, as did Clinton and Alyssa Milano, a prominent #MeToo activist. When questioned about “believing women,” Milano wrote, “Believing women was never about ‘Believe all women no matter what they say,’ it was about changing the culture of NOT believing women by default.” As reported by the Associated Press:

Karen Finney, a prominent Democratic strategist and message-maker who worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, rejected the Kavanaugh comparison outright.

In the context of sexual assault allegations, Finney said “believe women” doesn’t mean accepting as fact any assertion, but instead means affording women the default credibility to take claims seriously.

“If you start from the premise that this person is telling the truth, then you do the investigation and look at the facts,” she said, “and if the facts tell a different story, then that’s an important conversation to have.”

Sadly, some Democrats in Congress who showed the willingness, fire, and deep-rooted desire to “believe women” at any cost and to implicate Kavanaugh (a Republican) have failed to show the same “willingness to believe” those accusing Cuomo or other members of their party. This different “standard” seems to imply that the veracity or believability of an alleged victim of sexual assault is, at least, somewhat tied to the political leanings of the accused. This is unconscionable.

Reversing Trump’s Policy

Compounding the problems facing alleged victims of sexual harassment or abuse is the Biden administration’s recent decision to cancel Operation Talon, a program which former President Trump implemented to remove convicted sex offenders living in the United States illegally. As reported in Human Events, state attorneys general throughout the country recently signed a letter in which they opposed this cancellation and voiced their concerns with Biden’s decision:

“The United States’ population of illegal immigrants includes disturbingly large numbers of criminals with prior convictions for sexual crimes. According to data collected by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, during the period from October 2014 to May 2018 ICE arrested 19,572 illegal aliens with criminal convictions for whom the most serious prior conviction was a conviction for a sex-related offense.”

“Meanwhile, an increasing number of illegal aliens are entering the United States after having been previously convicted of sexual offenses. The cancellation of [Operation Talon] effectively broadcasts to the world that the United States is now a sanctuary jurisdiction for sexual predators. This message creates a perverse incentive for foreign sexual predators to seek to enter the United States illegally and assault more victims, both in the process of unlawful migration and after they arrive. It will also broadcast the message to other criminal aliens who have committed other offenses that any kind of robust enforcement against them is unlikely.” 

In tandem, the apparent double-standard and Biden’s decision to cancel Operation Talon send a  message to the victims of sexual harassment/abuse that their allegations are more likely to be believed if they align with the left’s political goals and aspirations. Even more astonishingly is the fact that, due to Biden’s decision to cancel Operation Talon, perpetrators of such crimes are free to enter and stay in the United States even if they are in the country illegally.