It’s hard to believe it was just last year.
It certainly seemed that we were willing and eager to embrace the full range of this nation’s diversity. That we were united in joyous celebration of what all Americans, of all conceivable backgrounds, could achieve. That our multicultural heritage pointed the way to a bright and glorious future. And it was such a glorious feeling, and we were so proud of ourselves for feeling it (and, perhaps, so smug and self-satisfied), that we assumed it would last forever.
Obviously, it did not.
The man in charge this year was very much a throwback to an older, more traditional way of doing things – depending upon your own particular traditions, of course. And clearly, many people seemed to want that. (Or at least, a few people in very particular positions seemed to want that.) Perhaps the world was changing too fast for them, and they wanted reassurances that the culture they grew up with was still the dominant culture in this nation. Perhaps they found that comforting. And even though profoundly unsettling rumors had been circulating about this man for years – for decades, really – perhaps that need for comfort was just too strong.
But as he began doing this new job, it was impossible not to notice that this man’s behavior was somehow – off. He couldn’t help but make weird and uncomfortable comments at every opportunity. Rather than engage with the nation as a whole, he seemed obsessed with living out private fantasies and settling personal scores. He treated his employees as his own private army of sorts. Even his attire seemed, somehow, odd. It was clear to most onlookers that he was profoundly ill-suited for the new job in which he found himself – and yet, incredibly, he was allowed to continue.
But this week, it became impossible to ignore how profoundly inappropriate and appalling a choice he really was. We’ve barely had time to read one account of shocking behavior before news of another account is posted. The sheer number of revelations make it clear that this is a man whose behavior is completely beyond the pale of anything which we call civilized. That he is profoundly selfish in his outlook, and (assuming the allegations are true) criminal in his behavior. That his transactional view of human relationships has fundamentally warped his own humanity. Perhaps, one might argue, it’s not really his fault – the appalling behavior of his father may have damaged him in ways most of us can’t begin to comprehend. But it ultimately doesn’t matter. If we really do care about what we think of as our “traditional” culture – if we believe that we’re a fundamentally moral nation, and that we value human dignity and personal freedom as much as we say we do – then we can no longer allow ourselves to be associated with this man.
So please, America, I’m begging you – don’t let Kevin Spacey host the Tony Awards ever again!