The “left” (what’s considered left) in America has a tendency to eat itself. Like a self-destructive addict, it cannot help from getting in its own way. There’s no room for nuance and “cancel culture” often permeates lefty chambers so much that too many have become the platitude liberal they hate. In a recent interview with Dr. Cornel West, he spoke out against this phenomenon. Do we really expect people to be perfect? Are we expecting everyone to agree with us on every little thing or they’re canceled?
Sexual assault is a serious matter. In the age of the failed symbolism of the #MeToo movement and the simultaneous nightmarish choice between Presidential candidates like Trump and Biden, both accused of sexual assault, it’s hard to not feel overwhelmed. Add Jeffery Epstein, his ghost of "pedogate" past Ghislaine Maxwell, disappearing children and $20,000 Wayfair cabinets, and it’s difficult to navigate these waters. The reality is that a significant portion of the left isn’t free of problems related to sexual harassment or sexism. Talk to women in media, politics, and those dealing with online male behavior, talk to them about pay rates and appearances. But the American left also gets lost in the sauce of emotional manipulation and co-option. Liberals have manipulated leftist insurgence for decades through emotional blackmail and symbolic purity.
Shahid Buttar who is running against Nancy Pelosi for California’s 12th Congressional District was accused of sexual harassment by a woman named Elizabeth Croydon. Let’s start with the fact that Shahid Buttar did live in a D.C communal home and that he and his accuser Elizabeth Croydon, knew each other and ran in similar circles. Let’s also state for clarity's sake that he has been accused of harassment not assault. Rather than tear down the accuser, as nearly every centrist Democrat on Twitter and most of the mainstream media did to Tara Reade, I’ll focus on facts first then give my opinion. Note I am using Reade as an example only because of the amount of hypocrisy by many in the Democratic Party when it comes to accusations on democratic male candidates for office comes into play here. Reid had graphic descriptions, went to every news outlet, had witnesses, and a multitude of evidence of her interactions with the then-Senator Biden, yet the criticisms of her character by the establishment were unjust and brutal.
Fact 1: Elizabeth Croydon wrote a medium article https://link.medium.com/OyOKUBLbq8 about how Shahid Buttar reportedly sexaully harassed her. It’s not anyone’s place to tell someone what is and isn’t harassment without context. She should be heard and her words read because she’s making a very serious claim and readers need as much information as possible to come to an understanding.
Fact 2: In her story, she says that based on her experience, “he would not be a good candidate for office.” Her saying this makes this political because now she’s saying she does not want someone like him to hold a position of power. Reade came out with a similar reason and it’s understandable that as a woman you don’t want a male who reportedly sexually assaulted you (in Reade’s case) to come to power. However, it also allows us to question the motive as many did so intrusively with Reade. Let’s note that in Reade’s case, Biden was not the most progressive candidate running and had the entire mainstream media and political consultant class destroying her reputation and dismissing anything he did to make sure everyone believed he was innocent, despite the countless accusers, video and photographic evidence showing him at the very least behaving inappropriately.
In Buttar’s case, he is the underdog progressive running against arguably the most powerful woman in Congress, Nancy Pelosi. The Nancy Pelosi, YAS queen of the milk-toast neoliberals, who is the gate-keeper denying any progressive legislation from passing. Pelosi, who has voted for every single one of Trump’s military budgets, voted for more mass surveillance and voted to keep the DHS, which Trump is now exploiting for political gain. The representative who knew there were no weapons of mass destruction and that George W. Bush lied but still voted to go to war. The Congresswoman who will not debate her more progressive opponent on why she refuses to push for Medicare for All or a Green New Deal during a pandemic and economic collapse. And yes, Nancy Pelosi, who has fully endorsed Joe Biden himself.
Fact 3: Croydon is a white woman accusing a Muslim brown man of sexual assault. We won’t go through the historical connotations this comes with for time’s sake, but white women have been seen as a destructive force to Brown and Black men throughout history. It took one white woman to falsely accuse a Black man in the 1950s for him to be lynched. So obviously we should look at how this man is perceived in a post-racial but still very racist society. Croydon used several racially tense words regarding a Black man who was friends with Shahid Buttar, tying the supposed actions of that friend to Buttar. She referred to this man as a “gang banger”.
Croydon has also been accused of racism by other activists in her community in D.C. The accusations seem to also be against the Black and Brown community.
Fact 4: Croydon’s accusation is vehemently denied by both Shahid Buttar and other activists in the D.C community.
A letter written by D.C activists in defense of accused Shahid Buttar reiterates these claims are false and entirely fabricated. Some of these activists were the ones involved in the Venezuelan embassy fight to stop the U.S-backed coup in Venezuela, others are part of Code Pink.
One of these people is Kevin Zeese who was a staunch advocate of stopping the U.S attempt to overthrow Venezuela’s democratically elected leader. According to Zeese and his partner Margaret Flowers, Zeese was also accused by Croydon of a more serious sexual assault claim in 2006.
Flowers states the judge threw out the case. When asked about this, Croydon said she did not recall making an accusation against Zeese but did seek a “temporary restraining order” because he left her a threatening voicemail regarding a dispute over an hour-long comedy show tape.
Fact 4: Other D.C activists and friends of Buttar have also said Croydon’s claims are not true, citing similar issues and inconsistencies with her story. One Pete Perry spoke of how back in D.C, Croydon had tried to implicate other friends in decreased activist, Jay Marx’s death.
Others spoke about how they had been in casual situations with Buttar but never experienced any kind of predatory behavior, citing how Pelosi might be behind this but agreed an investigation was needed.
Still, other supporters reiterated the racial element of Buttar focusing on civil liberties, surveillance, & criminalization issues, ones which primarily affect and criminalize men of color.
Fact 5: Let’s also note that the initial discussion was about sexual harassment involving Elizabeth Croydon, then shifted into sudden misogyny in the workplace. There were changes in staff not long ago but coincidentally after Croydon’s statement, 44 members of the San Francisco DSA chapter, including Shahid Buttar’s previous staffers Patrick Cochran, Raya Steier, and Sasha Perigo signed a resolution to rescind their endorsement of the candidate. Cochran said, “As a male staffer, Shahid never did anything terrible to me. But women staffers? A completely different picture.” Cochran was Buttar’s former volunteer coordinator and reported that his female colleagues needed the presence of 3-4 men to have their ideas taken seriously by him. After Buttar’s campaign, two of the three DSA staffers went to work for, “The Workers Agency,” an advocacy firm.
Fact 6: According to many volunteers, current staff, and supporters, Shahid Buttar’s campaign was corrupt from the start and ran his campaign very status quo in structure. Months ago Craig Pasta Jardula, co-host of The Convo Couch, as well as myself and other volunteers, felt Shahid’s campaign staff was rather soft on the establishment. Jardula in particular attended many phone calls, meetings, and spoke on the regular with staff because he was supportive of Buttar’s policies. Shahid was an attractive candidate with a wide base for his leftist takes on foreign policy and civil liberties but multiple people experienced several members of his campaign pushing for a very tame strategy with democratic corruption, while also pushing presidential candidates like Elizabeth Warren. Of course, people are entitled to their own presidential choices but a very centrist approach did not seem to fit Shahid’s grassroots base.
Not only was Shahid’s staff disliked by several volunteers, but the volunteers were made to feel like they couldn’t participate. One volunteer Gloria Berry said Buttar’s staff, “were a horrible fit for him,” and “they did not see eye to eye.” Berry also recalled, “This campaign staff had me so upset at one point they brought me to tears. I got witnesses. I wondered how did Shahid deal with them as long as he did. I was happy they all parted ways.” Craig Jardula states he was on a Zoom call and left because the moderator who worked for Shahid seemed more interested in, “letting everyone know she was all about supporting Warren”. He further said how one libertarian minded person told him he got ghosted by the campaign staff, even though he was willing to volunteer his time for Buttar.
Another source and ex volunteer who wished to remain anonymous said, “I know for a fact that misogyny was not the cause of disconnect with ex-staffers. I witnessed open insubordination and huge failures to perform, that in any other office setting would have resulted in immediate dismissal. Shahid tried to work with them but they didn’t try to work with him. I stepped back from volunteering because the staff, specifically the campaign manager, was mismanaging the campaign and dismissing serious concerns about the decisions.”
As a journalist and activist, I bore witness to how Shahid’s staff was very establishment-friendly. I quickly recognized similar issues I’d witnessed in the Bernie campaign. They seemed to lack knowledge or ability to bring people together, particularly the grassroots and independents, and instead pushed them away. Many supporters let Shahid know how they felt about his staff and he did everything he could to work with them, but they had alienated many, and eventually, he cut ties with much of the initial staff. Buttar also told The Intercept, “what has been characterized as staff turnover is ultimately staff improvement.” On multiple occasions he shared with both journalists and supporters how he hired new, friendlier people to revamp his campaign. In fact, many knew of this before any harassment case was brought up and encouraged him to get rid of his staff. In the opinion of many, he should’ve fired his old staff and hired new staff a long time ago.
Fact 7: As stated above many feel these attacks came in a timely manner. Shahid has just become a trending topic on Twitter with the #Pelosimustgo, gaining popularity with many leftists sharing their support of him ousting incumbent Pelosi out. https://twitter.com/jachristian/status/1282032324419280896?s=21
The week after his videos had gotten a lot of attention when he and volunteers including organizers from the organization Movement for The People’s Party, ended up going to one of Nancy Pelosi’s homes to let her know she should debate him. He was becoming well known more popular and then, of course, the accusations came. https://twitter.com/fiorella_im/status/1284671330248306688?s=21
One could argue, “well that’s what they said about Joe Biden,” but that is not entirely accurate. Joe Biden has years of videos and accusations from multiple women. He is also a very powerful white man with a lot of influence in the political sphere, unlike Shahid who is literally taking on that corruption as an outsider. We shouldn't expect anything less from the establishment considering he is threatening one of the most key Democrats in the nation. Buttar’s strong threat to the status quo lies in his stances on protecting privacy, free speech, and elections. Whereas Joe had the powerful players in D.C on his side, Buttar arguably has them against him.
If I’d been advising Buttar, I would have advised that this was coming. In a time where Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden call themselves “progressive,” while denying Americans a single-payer Healthcare system amidst a pandemic, I wouldn’t expect honesty and transparency to magically appear in Congressional races. Of course, an investigation will proceed as it should, but there are many organizations including DSA and Our Revolution that have been invaded by corporate pro-Democratic people. Throughout history movements get co-opted, presidential campaigns get co-opted. It’s not a conspiracy but a common occurrence within this world. It’s something I plan to explore deeply in the coming articles.
We also have to remember that not everything is black and white but often things require nuance. For one, sexual harassment and assault are very grave matters that shouldn’t be scoffed at or dismissed. To falsely accuse someone is also a very dangerous but thankfully uncommon occurrence. When it does happen, it minimizes the plight of actual victims. We need to understand that all human beings lie. Everybody lies. It’s why we have investigations, why we have journalism. To say you believe someone because they’re a woman is one of the things that pushed me away from the #MeToo movement, a “movement” led by neoliberal faux latte feminists figures like Alyssa Milano who is now working to elect accused rapist Joe Biden. I consider myself an intersectional feminist, who believes in equality and that includes economics- something Milano and most of her followers fail to speak on. They used the same tactics to smear Bernie Sanders against Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Elizabeth Warren in 2020. The fact is feminism has been co-opted like most movements by the establishment. They don’t speak of working-class issues of imperialism because their aim is pure symbolic pandering, mainly political, not an actual substantive change. Because I want women to actually improve their lives, I stand against this so-called “movement” that’s nothing but superficial slogans and pussy hats. I believe in due process. I believe in justice for all.
As our once golden, egocentric American dream crumbles and exposes the very hypocritical elements of our own creation, we’re going to see a lot of truth. With truth comes reality and sometimes it’s not pretty, and often, it’s disappointing. During vulnerable times, those of us seeking progress should also be mindful of brazen judgments and those attempting to exploit the current paradigm for self-gain. One should read, listen, question everything, then react. I hope progressives stop reactionary takes like canceling people because of one article on the internet. I hope our desire for justice overrides our desire to be "white knights". Pontificating about justice while behaving unfairly is something this movement should be mindful of. As Shakespeare said, “love all trust a few, do wrong to none,” but remember that in the real world none of us are perfect.
As more information comes out I’ll be updating this article. Thanks for reading.