-- As we witness the fall of Harvey Weinstein at the hands of some courageous women willing to tell their stories and a free press brave enough to publish against the threats from people in power, there are many truths to be touched on in a broad way, and maybe a bit of hypocrisy to be revealed. I identify five different prisms which reveal some fundamental principles.
1. No woman ever gained anything by falsely accusing a powerful man of sexual abuse (in fact, no woman gained anything by truthfully telling her story). Our default position should be to believe the women that come forward. They are putting themselves and their worlds on the line to strongly and compassionately reveal what happened to them. They are ripping open some dark secrets so that light will shine and maybe others won't suffer. Let's embrace them, and not attack them because they don't fit our political bias.
2. The level of hypocrisy that the Weinstein chapter has unveiled is astounding. To all those folks demanding Hillary Clinton or the Democratic National Committee return contributions from Weinstein, where are you on President Trump, Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly, who were also in the Weinstein category of alleged disgusting behavior toward women? We have a president in the Oval Office today who has bragged about things he did to women on tape. Further, Bill Clinton was given a pass by Democrats for his behavior prior to being president because he was on their team. We must put compassion and country over party and partisanship.
3. Men must also be on the front lines of confronting this awful abusive and disrespectful behavior by other men in our society. We as men must push back against the "boys will be boys" or "it's just locker room talk" mentality. It is those excuses that give permission to other men to act in a manner not fitting in a civilized society and does not treat women as equals. When we witness anything close to abusive actions or language, we must confront it as men, not just to protect women from abuse, but as a sign of our own values and morality. We also must treat the women in our lives (especially our daughters, wives, ex-wives, sisters, etc) in a manner that respects them and shows them how they should expect to be treated by all men.
4. Religious leaders in our country should take this mission on with a strength and commitment they have not shown in the recent past. We should be concerned with building a moral society that protects all and shows that we have a standard of behavior and integrity, more so than tax reform, or building a wall, or who can bake a cake, or the NFL. What is worse for our society: someone taking a knee or an NFL player given a quick pass for abusing women? My faith and my dedication to my country teaches me that our first order of business is protecting the vulnerable in our communities. And women abused by powerful men are in some of the most vulnerable circumstances around. As people of faith and as patriots, this should be at the top of any agenda.
5. Finally, artists and those in the creative field must be held accountable for music and film that demeans women or celebrates any violence toward them. If you are putting out songs or art that normalize this type of abusive behavior, then you are part of the problem. As consumers, we can use our pocketbooks to send a signal we will not tolerate this from these "artists," but leaders (business, political, and religious) must use their voices to condemn any celebration of mistreatment of women or sexualizing them in a manner which isn't healthy for our society.
We must end the "ends justify the means" approach to so many aspects of our world. Just because a movie producer makes us money doesn't mean we should allow awful behavior to continue. Just because a player gains a lot of yards or is a star, doesn't mean we should just slap their wrists or look the other way. And just because someone is in the same political tribe as ours, it shouldn't stop us from speaking out and holding him or her accountable. It is the 21st century, and it is way past time we stood up for women. To turn Dostoyevsky's famous quote a bit, it isn't how we treat prisoners, but how we treat women that determines the degree of civilization in a society.
Matthew Dowd is an ABC News analyst and special correspondent. Opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of ABC News.