When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Sources

The Risk Of Moral Superiority, On The Left And Right

Weighing collateral damage in the wake of Oxfam prostitution scandal.

Oxfam at the heart of a new scandal
Oxfam at the heart of a new scandal

Ah, the sweet smell of scandal … Don't you just love it when a renowned institution or individual deemed beyond reproach has their reputation definitively tainted by the discovery of some deep moral failing or criminal action? No matter how appalling the object of the controversy, there is so often that inescapable and surreptitious feeling of satisfaction in seeing those endowed with a moral superiority being brutally brought down to earth.


Yet it's also true that our reactions to the hypocrite-in-the-headlights moment is often colored by our own politics, whether we are more likely to cringe at the family-values righteousness of the religious right or the preachy one-worldness of the left.


The recent accusations of groping against Democratic Senator and women's rights advocate Al Franken recalled the mega sex scandals linked to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the IMF and stalwart of the French Socialist party who'd said all the right things about gender equality in public.


And now, the latest controversy is not about a single person, but an emblematic organization: Oxfam, one of the world's biggest NGOs, after accusations that the UK-based charity's aid workers frequented prostitutes in Haiti and Chad.

Writing in The Guardian, Gaby Hinsliff puts it plainly: "Think of the least likely place on earth to be plunged into a sexual abuse scandal, and Oxfam shops would surely be high on the list. What could be less predatory, and more wholesome, than a world full of kindly old women patiently sorting jumble? … And yet it's precisely the assumption that the good guys should be above suspicion that has proven so dangerous in the past."


And indeed, the fallout is spreading fast — maybe too fast. Priti Patel, the UK's former International Development Secretary has accused charities — not just Oxfam but several others as well — of creating a "culture of denial," alleging that sexual abuse inside charities, including of minors, was "a wider issue" and that the cases that had been disclosed until now were "just the tip of the iceberg."


Already, the Oxfam scandal has emboldened those who would want to see the government make cuts in foreign aid, gleefully rubbing their hands as they seize on this golden opportunity to push forward with their political agenda that was never about the probity of individuals. In the same way, catching a philandering senator who had preached family values is not in itself proof that those values are without merit.


The truth is that people of all ideas and backgrounds do bad things every day, and that the work that many good people do sadly ends up as collateral damage, as we celebrate those falling from on high. But just remember that savoring the failings of others is often the first step toward those very same headlights of hypocrisy.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

eyes on the U.S.

Eyes On U.S. — California, The World Is Worried About You

As an Italian bestseller explores why people are fleeing the Golden State, the international press also takes stock of unprecedented Silicon Valley layoffs. It may be a warning for the rest of the world.

Photo of a window pane with water droplets reflecting Facebook's thumb up logo, with one big thumb down in the background

Are you OK, Meta?

Ginevra Falciani and Bertrand Hauger

-Analysis-

For as long as we can remember, the world has seen California as the embodiment of the American Dream.

Today, this dream may be fading — and the world is taking notice.

A peek at the Italian list of non-fiction best-sellers in 2022 includes California by Francesco Costa, a book that looks to explain why 340,000 people moved out of the state last year, causing a drop in its population for the first time ever.

To receive Eyes on U.S. each week in your inbox, sign up here.

Why are all these people leaving a state that on paper looks like the best place in the world to live? Why are stickers with the phrase “Don't California my Texas” attached to the back of so many pick-up trucks?

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest