Last month, Donald Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski mirrored his boss’s violent tendencies when he assaulted a reporter who was asking Trump a question following a press conference. The details are a bit hazy and much of the rhetoric surrounding the issue mirrors a "he said, she said" design, but here are the indisputable facts: Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields was asking Trump a question when Lewandowski aggressively grabbed her arm and pushed her aside. He later denied the claims and went as far as to say he had never even met Fields until security footage of the scene was released that corroborated Fields’s claims and caught Lewandowski in a lie.
But what’s worse is that instead of firing him – which would undoubtedly have happened if he wasn’t the campaign manager of a major political candidate – the Trump campaign is now showing an outpouring of support for Lewandowski and worse still, is blaming Fields for the incident. The campaign stated that Fields's accusations cannot be taken seriously by virtue of the fact that she has made similar accusations in the past.
In 2011, Fields claimed she was assaulted by NYPD officers when covering an Occupy Wall Street protest and is on the record for making various other accusations for crimes ranging as far as hacking and sexual abuse.
And while I do agree with Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks that "on multiple occasions she [Fields] has become part of the news story as opposed to reporting it," I don’t agree that that disqualifies the credibility of her claims, especially when there is video evidence supporting them.
What this campaign is essentially trying to do is label Fields as a pathological victim, liar, or bboth in an attempt to switch the narrative. They don’t want the focus of the issue to rest on the rightness or wrongness of Lewandowski’s actions, but instead on the perceived lack of validity in Fields’s accusations.
This doesn’t make sense for two reasons. One, there’s already cold, hard proof verifying Fields’s story, so the truth in her argument has already been established and isn’t up for debate.
And two, citing her past accusations as “proof” that she’s lying is, to me, the definition of victim shaming. In this case, Fields is being attacked for speaking out against wrongs committed against her.
So what if she’s made similar claims before? Why does making more than one accusation automatically mean she must be lying? Maybe she’s just really unlucky. Or is there a rule somewhere that states you’re only allowed a certain amount of unfortunate events in your life?
It’s important to note that I’m not arguing the legalities of this situation. To be very honest, I don’t know who’s to blame. I understand that Fields was just trying to do her job but I also understand that Lewandoswki was probably just trying to do his job as well, if you include fending off reporters in his job description. I’ll let the courts figure that out.
But what I am arguing is that we cannot discredit Fields on this shaky basis. These kinds of arguments just perpetuate the institutionalized oppression of victims our society is now trying so hard to eradicate.
To question the validity of her claims is okay if you’re doing something like deliberating the actual definition of aggression, but to question the validity of her claims BECAUSE she’s claimed more than just this is not.
Her past records don’t mean she can be blamed for things far beyond her control. It’s not Fields’s fault that she’s been the victim of more than one affliction. These things just happen, it’s not like she’s actively trying to put herself in those situations.
Instead of blaming the victim, we should be encouraging good old Trump to repeat his once famous slogan: