To compare Mark Foley with Horatio Alger, Jr. is to be reminded that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
If very few people any longer know who Horatio Alger (1832-1899) was, almost everyone now knows who Mark Foley is. Son of an ex-Marine, a Catholic with Boy Scout connections, the Republican congressman from
After Foley was exposed as a sexual predator, some wag ridiculed the Republican campaign he spearheaded with the slogan “No child’s behind left behind.” But in most of the news reports and in all the public emails that I have read no distinction is made between pedophiles and pederasts. You would think a nation alarmed about sexual abuse and determined to stop it would know a little more about the subject.
Foley has often incorrectly been called a pedophile, but he is a pederast or an adult male who is sexually attracted to adolescent males. An adolescent is someone who has reached puberty, someone who has acquired secondary sexual characteristics and is capable of sexual reproduction. A child is someone who has not acquired secondary sexual characteristics and has not reached puberty and adolescence. Adult males who are sexually attracted to children are pedophiles. Foley is a pederast, not a pedophile. The sixteen-year-old pages he pursued on-line were adolescents, not yet men but no longer children. Some states recognize sixteen-year-olds as having reached the age of consent, so sexual relations with them, however reprehensible, is not always illegal. Making contact with them and soliciting sex from them on the internet could be, however, and that may be what Foley gets nailed on. Ironically, Foley was the politician who made a name for himself in Republican politics by proclaiming that the law should show no mercy to such predators.
The failure to understand the difference between pedophilia and pederasty is a failure to understand why some men are a menace when they around children and others, like Foley, are a menace when they are around adolescents. Foley loved being around adolescent males, and a corps of sixteen-year-old male pages apparently sent him over the edge. Nobody in the last ten years paid more attention to congressional male pages than Foley and nobody showered them with more praise. As each class of pages graduated, he was heartbroken. Footage of him getting choked up at a graduation exercise is part of the stock footage being shown over and over on television. But his love of pages was anything but fatherly or platonic. His tears were not necessarily a crock, but he gives a whole new meaning to wanting to take the measure of boys before they are men.
Horatio Alger, Jr. was the son of a preacher. He was born in 1832 in what was then known as
Unofficially defrocked, Alger moved to
In 1971, Richard Huber published a book, The American Idea of Success, in which he revealed publicly for the first time the charges against Alger in Brewster. After Huber outed Alger, a right-wing Republican columnist Medford Evans, writing in the John Birch magazine Public Opinion, denounced the revelation as a liberal slander, as “totally unproven allegations against a man of blameless life.” The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, as it now calls itself, ignored Huber’s embarrassing revelation, and as far as I know has never acknowledged that Alger was a pederast. Many famous Americans, most of them Republicans, have been recipients of Alger Awards. Before he became an infamous figure in the Enron scandal, Ken Lay won an Alger Award in 1998. The Alger Association even had the chutzpah to establish an award for those who achieved success in spite of having been sexually molested in their youth! If I recall correctly, Oprah was the recipient of this award.
Another group, the Horatio Alger Society, was formed in the
Liberal Democrats can be pederasts. There was the creepy Massachusetts Congressman Gerry Studds, who was involved sexually with a 17-year-old page. But the tradition of conservative Republican sexual predation runs deep, if silently, and in terms of hypocrisy and cynicism, has no parallel. Gerry Studds did not wrap himself in Family Values. From Horatio Alger to Mark Foley, the Republicans have been the hypocritical party of Grand Old Perverts. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
I recommend the following article, “Republican Hypocrisy Revealed,” in the following blog: http://www.armchairsubversive.com/