Where is Ghislaine Maxwell? Where? I sat through the four episodes of Filthy Rich, the Netflix documentary on Jeffrey Epstein. I had to force myself, not because it was so upsetting – which, of course, it also was – but because the tales of his sexual abuse were so monotonous. Brave and defiant, his victims had to numb themselves slightly to tell and retell what happened to them when they were as young as 14. The interviews with the monster himself, as always, were disappointingly banal. Monsters often are tediously ordinary. The magnetic charm, the immense intellect, is one of the biggest delusions of “true crime”. See also Ted Bundy.
Anyway Ghislaine, accused of procuring underage girls for Epstein, is said to be a free woman in Paris, living in the swanky 8th arrondisement. French law prevents her extradition. Many of those implicated in Epstein’s world of obscene exploitation, including all the art world and socialite scum, must have a clue where she is. Alleged scum, I should say. They love their children just like we do. Sure.
When I watched the speech to university graduates that Ivanka Trump had recorded the other day, I felt a surge of blood-thumping hate so hard I thought I might be having a mini-stroke. Is she actually worse than her father? Is this my internalised misogyny? Is she not just another victim, like Ghislaine?
But it’s not just women, is it? I see the collaborators everywhere. I have thought about this since I was a child and read about the second world war. I thought from a young age about who would fall into line if told by some authority that this was the right time to round up the “undesirables”. I have always known myself to be an “undesirable”.
To this day, I can walk into a chichi party and pick them out. Most of them would do it not because they were “bad” people but because they had mouths to feed and rents to pay. In the end, it’s all just paperwork and nothing ever really happens, they would say. Some would do it because they cover themselves in muck every day as they climb the greasy pole, and call it “human nature”. Some would do it in a halfhearted way, losing a little sleep but wondering also if the undesirables hadn’t got a bit out of hand lately.
My friends, I can mostly say, would be incapable of collaboration. Partly because they are my friends and partly because they could not be bothered to fill in the forms, or would lose them. The resistance would haphazard, messy, argumentative – but it would be fierce.
Every day I see them, the enablers, in big ways and small. I have a list; it could fill this entire newspaper. Let’s go with names you know. Dr Anthony Fauci: man, you are a doctor yet for so long you watched as Trump spouted drivel. Dr Deborah Birx: I know you haven’t been seen since he started talking about drinking bleach, but why didn’t you start wailing like a banshee? Mike Pence: you will get your comeuppance. One day you will be alone in a room with a strange woman, and believe me you won’t like it. The entire Republican party: you sink this low for power? Really? The evangelical right: you think the president has Christian values?
As for the Democratic party – you think some creepy guy is better than many smart women?
Chris Whitty, Patrick Vallance and you scientists who stand alongside floundering politicians talking of our Covid-19 success: why allow your presence to support this lie? The Johnson family: blood is not thicker than water, it’s just thick. Why pretend Boris Johnson is the right man for the job or should even be back at work? The cabinet: you have the collective moral fibre of a whelk. Shops before schools? What?
It’s tempting to focus on a few bad apples. But none of us are innocent
Nick Clegg: you could have been a contender and now you’re shilling for Zuckerberg. That level of collusion knows no bounds.
All you civil servants who loyally carry on working for Dominic Cummings, even though he openly disrespects you: one rogue tweet ain’t enough. The part of the Labour party that could not and would not listen to what the electorate was saying because it did not fit its purity spiral of a world view: ever thought you got it a teensy bit wrong?
Nigel Farage, now so discredited few will even collaborate with him.
The great and the good, worrying about property prices. Journalists who said they would leave Westminster but never did. Journalists full stop. I know. Don’t start.
All of us who say that Black Lives Matter and vaguely hope that gets sorted out soon.
See, it’s so much easier to focus it all on a few bad apples, isn’t it? The two-minute hate. But none of us are innocent. Just understand when and where you collaborate – and stop.
Take a knee. A knee on a neck. We are the good ones – we know what’s right when it comes to that choice, surely? No one would collude with the wrongdoers, would they? I beg to differ. My list stretches into the far distance.