I loved Mario Cuomo, one of my professors during the Watergate Era, as ethical as he was objective and honest and at the time, apparently apolitical although an emerging leader in the New York City Democratic Party. He pointed out to us that what Richard Nixon was being tarred and feathered for was no different to the conduct of his predecessors throughout the twentieth century, but that notwithstanding that reality, it was past time for meaningful reform. Every one of his classes was a lesson in ethics, although the topic was much more mundane, “legal research and writing”.
His sons were as different as possible from their father. The odious and formerly mighty second generation Cuomo Clan appears to have fallen. That is my translation of an article that appeared on Sunday, December 5, 2021 in Aljazeera entitled “CNN fires Chris Cuomo over role in brother’s harassment scandal: Veteran news anchor fired for helping defend brother”. I prefer foreign sources with respect to news about the United States since the United States corporate media is, and perhaps always has been, completely unreliable. But the news has even spread to the corporate media which, for so long did what it could to obfuscate it.
I am obviously not a fan of the Cuomo brothers, in fact, I’ve despised them since many of us believed that their early misconduct and lack of ethics caused their father, one of my heroes, to decide not to run for the presidency in 1992, giving us Bill Clinton instead, a man much more similar to them in every way than was their father Mario. I am also certainly not in favor of sexual abuse of any kind. Still, there are aspects to the reactions to the Cuomo scandals that I find troubling. My own included.
Unlike Bill Clinton and (according to Tara Reade) Joe Biden and others, Andrew Cuomo was not married when he engaged in the pseudo-sexual activities that laid him low and, as a human being, was seemingly free to seek mutually agreeable intimate interactions. The problem is that when one attains substantial success, potential intimate interactions too often involve imbalances of power that make mutuality difficult to discern, and that is now frowned upon although evolutionary theory, as enforced by nature, suggests that sexual interactions that favor the more powerful are not only healthy but essential for biological progress. But we have, as a society (or as groups of societies) diverged from the path of survival of the fittest enforced by nature, we have diverged in many, perhaps most ways, believing that we are morally superior to nature and thus know better.
I cannot deny that I frequently feel the same way. Nature’s dictates are now anathema in many ways. For example, when it comes to dealing with those who suffer physical or mental impairments, it is unthinkable to cast them aside hoping for their demise as do other biological entities and even our recent ancestors. Indeed, the age restrictions we place on sexual activity contradict not only our own history but evolutionary mechanisms: i.e., nature sets the onset of menses in women and ejaculatory capacity in men but we disagree with the logical conclusions such physical changes imply. That was not always the case. The allegedly virgin Mary was purportedly impregnated by an agent of the divine before she attained her first dozen years, an event we still incongruously celebrate at this time of year. We also refuse to recognize nature’s indicia of adulthood by depriving our young of equal rights as to most things before they attain an age that recent society has arbitrarily set, but set in a clearly incoherent manner. Young men and now young women are old enough to die for their countries but not to either consume alcohol or to vote. How logical are our social deviations from nature’s suggestions?
We are an incoherent species!
Consider the reality that nouveaux-puritanical-sexual-mores are now most espoused among those who believe themselves most environmentally conscious and most attuned to nature. Odd dichotomies we seem unwilling to study lest the contradictions involved make us uncomfortable. They certainly make me uncomfortable. I am completed committed to concepts of equity, equality and justice that we as humans have created and made priorities but which are utterly irrelevant to nature. But I am also very drawn to nature’s inherent wisdom. Thus, I have no answers, and I know I have no answers. But I do not ignore the questions raised. I have plenty of questions. Unfortunately, modern society has devolved into competing camps of know-it-alls unwilling to consider competing perspectives, all opponents being vile and evil.
Given that, at least indirectly, Andrew Cuomo´s dilemma is a topic of this article, it is appropriate to consider our current confusion about all matters sexual, a legacy of all three major Abrahamic Religions. The obvious consequences of our incoherent, contradictory and polarized sexual mores (so confusing that they do not actually qualify any more as social mores) are that, today, interactions between genders have become morally divorced from nature’s dictates but not from nature’s instincts, leaving us confused and polarized. As the purportedly “woke” tear down social institutions leaving us without replacements (perhaps a necessary evolutionary phase in the social subsystem with which we replace nature’s tendencies), some of us need to carefully and objectively analyze the situation and suggest functioning alternatives in place of platitudes. But today, anyone making such suggestions is likely to be deemed an abomination. Science fiction author Robert Heinlein did so in his latter novels but I admit that while I found his libertarian leaning social premises and suggested postulates logical, I concurrently found them emotionally troubling. They made me feel as though I’d become a biological oxymoron; kind of like the character Vinnie Barbarino in the old “Welcome Back Kotter” sitcom when he would lament: “I’m so confused!!!!” I feel that way too.
But enough about Andrew and the unnatural evolution of current sexual “mores”, more frequently acknowledged in their violation than in their acquiescence. Turning to Chris, his unpardonable socio-civic sin was daring to seek to defend his brother. I despise Chris Cuomo finding him to be a dishonest hypocrite and worthless human being (except perhaps, for his willingness to put himself at some sort of risk to defend his brother). Defense of a family member, until recently a sacred attribute of brotherhood (and sisterhood, and parenthood, etc.), has now been declared anathema if it clashes with newly imposed elitist mores which at least so far, seem as dysfunctional as those initially discussed above. Interfamily dysfunctionality is not new, it is always present in civil wars and family strife, but it has not previously been generally accepted as a requirement, at least outside of totalitarian societies where the state trumped everything (no allusion to the former president intended) and tattle-on-your-family was the rule (think, perhaps, of Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany). Is that really what we want today for ourselves and for our children? For our relationships with our friends?
There is a great deal of pleasure in seeing the fall of those who have attained the heights unfairly, in unmerited fashion, who have attained social and civic heights by abusing family ties and then pontificating to us, something that seems a rule of nature among descendants of men and woman who have scaled the heights and attained success on their own, fighting and scratching to climb every wrung of the socio-civic-economic ladder. That is most glaringly the story of the Kennedy Clan in recent history, but also of the Cuomos. Still, while their fall may be appropriate, sometimes the reasons for their fall are not justified. Society rarely cares. There is satisfaction in finally getting them, of having them suffer their due, of tripping them up on their high wire acts, of ending their manipulating of “the system” to attain de facto impunity, who cares how. The beloved “Al Capone gambit”,
But perhaps we should care.
Perhaps we have to care if we really want to replace the transformational “law of the jungle” system that nature has bequeathed us with a just world, one where equity is probable and equality attainable.
Something we ought to at least contemplate.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at email@example.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.