ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.--Innocent until proven guilty. We say it. We teach it to our children. But we don't believe it.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, charged with forcing a hotel cleaning person in midtown Manhattan to perform oral sex, has been released.
This was not a case of a defendant wielding influence to weasel out of responsibility. To the contrary, the NYPD and district attorney believed the alleged victim. The cops aggressively pursued DSK, as the French media calls him.
District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. says the case has fallen apart. The victim was unreliable at best, a conwoman at worst. The charges are dead.
Though legally innocent, DSK will not be restored to his job leading the International Monetary Fund, which he was forced to resign. Before getting dragged off an Air France jet bound for Paris, the de-accused rapist was considered a frontrunner for the Socialist Party's nomination for the French presidency.
If legal innocence is to rise above hollow rhetoric, people like DSK ought to be entitled to the full restoration of their pre-arrest status.
Not many will agree with me on this. Which is my point: As a society, we don't really believe in innocent until proven guilty.
We did not revel in Strauss-Kahn's arrest because of the crime that the legal system has since decided not to pursue, rape. We laughed and jeered because we hate(d) him.
We hate(d) DSK because he is rich and evil. Had DSK been a run-of-the-mill accused rapist, few would have noticed and no one would have been as gleeful about his predicament.
I published a cartoon showing DSK in a police interrogation room. "What's the big deal?" I showed him asking police detectives. "I've been raping the world for years!"
It takes a cruel genius to turn big profits on the backs of the world's poorest people. Meet DSK's IMF. First, IMF officials such as DSK convince the political leaders of say, Kyrgyzstan, that they could rapidly modernize their Fourth World backwater with a loan.
Increase in GDP or no, the IMF loans come due. What to do? IMF experts parachute in and recommend: "structural adjustment." No more profligate spending on social programs. The IMF is the world's biggest loan shark.
In the United States, IMF-style gangster capitalism takes the form of Republican/Tea Party "starve the beast" demagoguery. There's always money for rich people. And for wars. And for wars that make rich people richer. For the poor and middle class, Medicare and Social Security are ostentatious and unaffordable luxuries. Socialized medicine, guaranteed cost-of-living increases and unlimited unemployment benefits are off the table.
It is this economic outlook, devoid of humanity and contemptuous of people's basic needs, that Strauss-Kahn represents.
We all hate him and those like him. He deserves prison. Until there's a revolution, however, DSK will never suffer for the crimes he committed as a globe-trotting financier.
Even as DSK flew first class and left his most intimate DNA in $450-a-night suites at four-star hotels, his IMF was demanding that the citizens of Greece and Portugal slash pensions and hike college tuition. That is his biggest crime, and the one for which he and those like him should someday face justice.