DeVos, promising to do more to protect the rights on those accused of committing crimes against women on campus, says, “If everything is harassment, then nothing is”

There was an interesting article in the New York Times just after the election about the 53% of white women, and 42% of women across the board, who cast their votes for Donald Trump in 2016. [note: A whopping 64% of non-college educated white women voted for Trump.] Well, I was reminded of the piece just now, as I was reading about what Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos had to say today about her intention to change the way allegations of sexual assault are handled on college campuses. While not totally unexpected, as DeVos has made it clear that she’s more concerned about how allegations of sexual harassment and rape adversely affect the lives of those men who stand accused than she is about the well-being of those women coming forward to report the charges, it’s still somewhat shocking to hear her say, as we did today, “If everything is harassment, then nothing is,” essentially suggesting that we raise the bar when it comes to what men can get away with on our college campuses. But, again, this shouldn’t really be a surprise, as the DeVos staffer pushing this change, is Candice Jackson, a woman who, as a graduate student at Stanford, claimed that she was being discriminated against for being white and then went on to start an organization dedicated to telling the stories of women “abused” by Hillary Clinton… At any rate, as I was reading up on what DeVos said today, I was reminded of those women who voted for Trump, in spite of what they had heard him say on that hot Access Hollywood mic about how his fame allowed him to grab women “by the pussy” without consent. I was particularly reminded of one woman who said that she was able to vote for Trump by tuning out all the bad things she knew about him, and ‘focusing on the good.’ And it got me wondering what these women might be thinking today, as Trump’s Secretary of Education is telling us that the pendulum has to swing back the other way, with more consideration given to the rights of those men accused of date rape and other crimes against women… Here’s Devos, in her own words, talking about how we need to give less consideration to the rights of the accuser and more to the rights of the accused.

For what its worth, I’m not adverse to the open, honest discussion as to how we, as a society, protect the rights of the accused. I know that false accusations are made, and I know that lives are ruined. At the same time, however, I don’t trust DeVos and Jackson, who recently, by the way, told the New York Times that “90%” of rape accusations “fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right’,” to act in good faith on behalf of victims.

In case you’re interested, here’s some of what what I wrote when Jackson was named as head of the Civil Rights division under DeVos.

…I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this once again, but it’s absolutely no coincidence that the administration has chosen an anti public education activist to run the Department of Education, a man who once said he wanted to destroy the Department of Energy to run that agency, and a climate change denier to run the EPA. This is all being done by design. As Steve Bannon told us himself, his agenda is the “deconstruction of the administrative state,” and there’s no faster way to achieve that than by handing agencies over to those who have vowed to destroy them. As Bannon himself said at CPAC this past winter, “If you look at these Cabinet nominees, they were selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction.” And, with that as the objective, putting Candice Jackson, someone who has demonstrated a clear disdain for civil rights in her life, in charge of defending the civil rights of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens, makes perfect sense.

Jackson is to civil rights what Scott Pruitt is to global warming. She’s a civil rights denier. And, like Pruitt, she’s been given this job to do as much damage as possible to her institution.

For what it’s worth, while Jackson will technically be the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office for Civil Rights, she’ll actually be serving as Secretary, as DeVos has yet to hire anyone in that role. If I were the suspicious type, I’d say that this was done by design, as the Secretary position requires Senate confirmation, whereas the Deputy Assistant Secretary position does not. In other words, this was an end run around the Senate to place someone absolutely unqualified for the job in the position as Secretary. [As the acting head of the department, Jackson will be in charge of about 550 full-time staff.]

So, if you’re a white student who has a grievance, now’s the chance you’ve been waiting for… Did you lose a school election to a Hispanic classmate? Did someone tell you that you weren’t allowed to wear a “white power” t-shirt to school? Were you made uncomfortable by a discussion in History class about slavery? Well, you might find a sympathetic ear at the new Office of Civil Rights.

Oh, and while Jackson doesn’t have any experience when it comes to civil rights, unless you count ranting about how civil rights protections are unfair to white Americans, she does have some experience running an organization. Apparently, prior to taking this position, Jackson ran an organization dedicated to telling the stories of women “abused” by Hillary Clinton called the “Their Lives Foundation”. She is also the author of the 2005 book, “Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine.”

And, yes, this is why we fought so hard to keep Betsy DeVos from the Department of Education.

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  1. JM
    Posted September 7, 2017 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think school’s should be the ones leading investigations and policing on campus related sexual assaults – they should be handled by the local police and court systems. That’s a bulk of the Obama reform that I’m really fine with removing or drastically revising.

  2. Sad
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    This piece on NPR is an interesting take on DeVos. Especially the fake news reporting that she had never stepped foot in a public school.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Maybe someone can correct me on this, but I heard that Obama didn’t do much “reform” in this area, but merely made sure that laws on the books were actually enforced. If someone could direct me toward a reliable resource, I would appreciate it.

  4. J.T.
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    While I too think that reform MAY be necessary, I would also agree that DeVos has proven herself to be an unfair arbiter of such things, seeing as how she keeps pushing the narrative of “white male victimization”.

  5. M
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Wherever we may stand on the issue, I think we’d probably agree that the end result will be that fewer young women on college campuses will report instances of sexual assault.

  6. Jennifer Granholm on Twitter
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    “Make no mistake, @BetsyDeVosED is seeking to silence the voices of survivors of sexual assault” #TitleIX @DNCWomen

  7. Max
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Sad, the This American Life episode on DeVos was interesting and does prove that she has indeed stepped in a public school prior to her appointment, but it also shows how incredibly out of touch she is with regards to public education. She mentors a student in public schools, takes them out, puts them in a private school, buys the family a car, hires the mother to wash clothes and hires the student to do housekeeping. Not every underprivileged child can have a crazy rich lady as their benefactor. I thought it was really telling at the end where the child explained that she thought people had misunderstood DeVos, but, after thinking about it, said that one thing DeVos should really focus on is improving public schools.

  8. Jean Henry
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    The worst people to have on a jury if prosecuting a rape trial are women. They reliably pass moral judgment on the victim as somehow having asked for it. Men are more compassionate. Most of what DeVos is doing will be roundly applauded by the women who voted for Trump. This will only heighten their support. Women are quite content to respond to their own marginalization by throwing the more marginalized under the bus. They feel a need to distinguish themselves just as poor whites are easily conned into believing they are somehow better than poor people of color. There most compelling reasons for change making feminism and critical feminist discourse are not about men or trying to change them. We have to change ourselves first. Women are no better than men. We are still subject to bias though, and much of that gets internalized as a coping mechanism. We then take it out on each other.

  9. Taco Farts
    Posted September 9, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, the TAL episode only showed one thing about DeVos: she’s buying individual poor people to try to assuage her guilt for the horrific mass suffering she’s responsible for. You surround yourself with 5 people whose lives you’ve changed, you can easily forget about the 5 million you fucked. Meanwhile, you have five people who will come to your defense in a passionate and sincere way when public radio comes calling.

  10. Sad
    Posted September 10, 2017 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Again TAL with another story of a rich woman paying for disadvantaged children to go to private school. Is that the theme this fall?

  11. John Galt
    Posted September 11, 2017 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Obama was very unfair toward date rapists.

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