May 17, 2011

In Defense of Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Bernard-Henri Lévy wrote a piece with the same title. Here is mine.

First of all, a man is innocent until proven guilty. This statement is the foundation of the US justice system. Justice is blind; a concept that has been around since the 15th century. It means no matter what your social standing in society, you will be treated with the same respect as the poorest of the poor or the richest of the rich. Fine. So what the hell is going on in Dominique Strauss-Kahn's case?

The vultures and small-minded bigots are out in full force, picking at what was immediately perceived to be the political and professional carcass of DSK's career. It certainly doesn't help that he is being labeled "a banker", one of the most hated breed the world over.  Everybody loves to see a banker fall. Dominique Strauss-Kahn is not a banker. He is a French economist, lawyer and politician, currently holding the position of head of the IMF.

The IMF is a whole other story. Now is the chance for all the closet champions of poor, repressed third world countries to simultaneously emerge and shout "hang him high". The IMF has been accused in the past of too stringent measures put in place for poorer countries, stifling their economic growth. I suppose one could use an analogy of a poor person getting bailed out with a loan but telling them to exist on a slice of bread and a glass of water per day to repay the loan. I am no expert on the machinations of the International Monetary Fund. I expect, like most global institutions, there is a lot rotten in Denmark. My point here is, it is unfair to blame DSK for all that is wrong with it. And he has made an effort during his tenure since 2007 as Head of the IMF to reform and re-structure it, with success. He is a liberal and a former communist which leads me to believe he has been acting more in the interest of the poor than his predecessors.

Here an excerpt from Wikipedia:

"Strauss-Kahn made comments that could be perceived as critical of global financial actors, in an interview for a documentary about the Late-2000s financial crisis, Inside Job (2010). He said he had attended a dinner organised by former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in which several CEOs of 'the biggest banks in the U.S' had admitted they (or perhaps bankers in general) were 'too greedy' and bore part of the responsibility for the crisis. They said the government " 'should regulate more, because we are too greedy, we can't avoid it.' " Strauss-Kahn said he warned the officials of a number of departments of the U.S. government of an impending crisis. He also said: "At the end of the day, the poorest – as always – pay the most."

In my opinion, as powerful figures go, he seems pretty decent.  What pisses me off is the rabid foaming-at-the-mouth crowd, the pitchfork-wielding rabble wafting up from the boiling cauldron of hypocritical indignation. The snide remarks and fangs-barred snarling blood lust comes more from the pleasure of seeing a mighty one fall.  That makes me sad.  There is no dignity for anyone involved.

Bottom line and the point of my tirade: people should be treated with respect. Trotting Mr. Strauss-Kahn out in handcuffs in front of the angry mob is so pre-revolutionary, I find it pretty disgusting and was a common practice during various monarchies.  Some will argue; well, all suspects are treated the same way. You know what? Maybe all suspects should be treated with more respect. Maybe, if they were treated like humans, they'd start acting like ones.

Nobody knows what went on in the hotel room. And as far as conspiracy theories go, it certainly is possible. Regardless of the outcome, Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been a respected figure and has done much to earn that respect. He continues to have mine.

1 comment:

Laura Molina said...

The hoopla has been like high-end version of that vile TV show, "Cops". "Innocent until proven guilty" goes out the window.