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I suspect that I am not alone in being horrified by the unmasking of Bill Cosby. I admired the man. I enjoyed his television show. I thought it salutary. It held up a functional African-American family for admiration. I liked his humor as well. I once had the privilege – and a privilege it was – of being a guest at a table (paid for by Lehmann Brothers) at a charity event where he performed, and I can tell you that there was a sweetness about his performance that, even today, I remember with great pleasure. Moreover, when he spoke about the misconduct evidenced by all too many young African-Americans, he told the unvarnished truth.
So, when I learned that he has not lived his life in accord with what he preached (directly or indirectly) via that television show, in his performances as a comedian, and in his speeches, I was not just shocked. I was deeply saddened – and, I feared, not without reason — that the good he had done with the show, his performances, and his speeches would come to naught. Which is precisely what the left liberals want.
If you want to see the evidence, read William McGurn’s column in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. It is memorable. It says something that I had meant to say myself, and it says it better and with fuller evidence than I could have done:
So Bill Cosby’s a creep, and maybe worse.
Yes, as Whoopi Goldberg says, he hasn’t been arrested, much less convicted, so he’s innocent until proven guilty. He would be entitled to this presumption in a court of law. The rest of us are free to make our own judgments.
Put it this way: What dad would want his daughter anywhere near a man who has admitted to procuring Quaaludes to use on young women he wanted to have sex with?
And yet: There is something rank in last week’s decision by U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno to make public sealed court filings from 2005 that included this admission by Mr. Cosby. What makes it rank is the reason the judge gave for denying the entertainer a right to privacy that others would have been entitled to: He said it was because Mr. Cosby has “donned the mantle of public moralist and mounted the proverbial electronic or print soap box to volunteer his views on, among other things, childrearing, family life, education, and crime.”
This is an extraordinary sentence. Especially because it comes after a paragraph in which the same judge concedes that the Supreme Court decision he invokes has never before been extended to anyone other than public officials. In so doing, the judge put his finger on the real target in the cross hairs here, and it’s not Bill Cosby.
It’s Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable.
In his time, Mr. Cosby’s on-screen alter-ego was America’s most popular dad. Even when Mr. Cosby was not playing Dr. Huxtable—when, for example, he was writing his book about fatherhood or telling young black men to pull their pants up—it was hard not to hear Dr. Huxtable’s voice.
Now, few things are more damaging to a cause than a leader exposed as not practicing what he preaches. The Catholic Church, for example, has paid a high price for the news that over many years in many different countries, priests sexually abused young boys, and that the crimes were covered up by church authorities.
The hypocrisy in the Cosby case is somewhat different. Certainly the life Bill Cosby led was not the one he projected. But the chief hypocrisy is between the disturbing, real-life Mr. Cosby and the upright-but-fictitious Dr. Huxtable.
That’s right. The reason Judge Robreno released court documents under seal was that he did not like what Cosby — disguised as Dr. Huxtable — had to say about African-American conduct, and the silencing of Dr. Huxtable has happened. As Bill McGurn observes, a day after the release of those documents, Black Entertainment Televisions Centric Network, Bounce TV, and TV Land stopped running reruns of The Cosby Show, and in Salon and The New Republic the show as such has come under fire.
You see, Dr. Huxtable and his family were not victims. They were not harassed by the New York City Police Department, and they were not out there attacking “white privilege.” They were working hard, playing by the rules, and making their way. As such — the left liberals are agreed — they were a bad example to their fellow African-Americans. They were not playing the role which the left has assigned black Americans.
McGurn ends his column with two questions:
And while we’re on the subject of hypocrisy, what about the different treatment accorded the many women who accused Bill Clinton and those who now accuse Mr. Cosby?
By all means, let Bill Cosby answer for his acts. But why the determination to take the Huxtables down with him?
You know the answer to both.Published in