Editorial, May 11, 2018
How Can Anyone Process
Eric Schneiderman’s Sudden Fall?
The Cooperstown Rotary Club starts its meeting with song, and the first this past Tuesday went, in part:
I’d like to build the world a home,
and furnish it with love…
I’d like to teach the world to sing,
in perfect harmony…
I’d like to see the world for once,
all standing hand in hand
And hear them echo through the hills
For peace throughout
With Spitzer, then Weiner, now Schneiderman, it’s hard to be anything but rueful at those words.
The latter’s fall – he was accused in this week’s New Yorker of abusing four girlfriends – is perhaps the most surprising among leading state Democratic politicians felled so far by allegations of sexual misconduct.
When he made a star turn at the Glimmerglass Festival in July 2016, Eric Schneiderman, despite his hard-driving campaigns and prosecutions, gave the impression of a mild, modest man, and a cultured one: His father, Irwin, it was noted, was a philanthropist whose support was central to keeping the New York City Opera going for decades.
Monday the 7th, the magazine hit the stands. Four women had accused him of slapping and otherwise physically abusing them. He first said the allegations – “which I strongly contest” – were irrelevant to his professional duties. By evening, however, he resigned, stating, “these allegations … will effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time.”
While it may be the right decision, it’s a shame.
Since Harvey Weinstein faced rape allegations last October and was fired as president of Miramax Studios – as many as 80 women have since come forth – the nation has seen dozens of top executives, leading artists and professionals who have been subjected to a range of allegations.
Ironically, given Glimmerglass’ production that July 2016 evening of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” a modern spinoff from the Salem witch trials, Schneiderman appeared locally to comment on the mass hysteria Americans witness from time to time – McCarthyism, certainly, but as recent as the Manhattan Beach arrests in the’ 80s.
Certainly, there is an aspect of that in the #MeToo movement, that will only be clear a year or two or a half-dozen hence. Some of today’s celebrated cases may turn out to be the equivalent of infractions or misdemeanors, but others will indeed be Class A felonies.
Be that as it may, the revelations of the past seven months don’t stand alone.
As a nation, we’ve seen a coming apart of stabilizing institutions and relationships over the past half century.
As individuals in Otsego County, we can’t even control troubling trends and unfortunate happenings at close range. At base, we can only control ourselves – in all things – and even then, imperfectly.
What we can do is recommit ourselves to basic principles: to love, to mutual respect and consideration, to fidelity to the people who depend on us – in the end, even to forgiveness. We often need that ourselves.
This Sunday the 13th brings the celebration of perhaps the most affirming ideal, and the Rotarians’ second song praised its embodiment. Corny, of course, but here goes:
M is for the million things she gave me
O means only that she’s growing old;
T is for the tears she shed to save me
H is for her heart of purest gold
E is for her eyes with lovelight shining
R means right, and right she’ll always be
Put them all together they spell Mother
A name that means the world to me
If only, at all times, we would remember mom.