Thursday 19 September 2019

Ian O'Doherty: 'Monsters like Epstein prosper because people look the other way'

'Mystery': Epstein's death has spawned a whole host of new conspiracy theories
'Mystery': Epstein's death has spawned a whole host of new conspiracy theories
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

Nature isn't the only thing to abhor a vacuum. Human curiosity drives us to find answers and we aren't happy when they remain elusive.

This desire to find the truth comes in many guises. You see it in explorers, you see it in scientists and philosophers.

Perhaps most of all, you see it with conspiracy theorists.

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As pointed out on this page a few weeks ago when writing about all the wild theories about the Moon landing, sometimes even when the truth is staring people in the face, they will still look for another answer.

Jeffrey Epstein's death, apparently by suicide last week, has just unleashed a whole new genre of demented theories and the fact that his death is so mysterious and, yes, so convenient, has been manna from heaven for the type of individual who sees dark forces at work in everything.

Inevitably, Trump took time to spread one of the older conspiracy theories, #Clintonbodycount.

For a man who likes to rage against "fake news", he has a long and inglorious history of spreading bogus theories, earning him the title Conspiracist-in-Chief.

In Maga country, however, it fuelled the mythical belief that the Clintons have the habit of killing anyone who crosses their path.

The idea that the Clintons occasionally kill people has been around since the 1990s, when an Arkansas opponent claimed that they had been involved in 27 "suspicious deaths of former colleagues".

The idea gained real traction when their disgraced former fixer, Vince Foster, killed himself in unusual circumstances. That Trump should decide to exhume that long debunked idea makes sense from his point of view. After all, Trump was happy to be seen as a pal of Epstein, who we now know was a compulsive predator on the scale of someone like Jimmy Savile.

Anyone who has paid attention to American politics over the last few decades will have been aware of the mysterious financier.

A Zelig-like figure who routinely popped up in photographs with the rich and famous, and politicians, the stories of his private jet - nicknamed the 'Lolita Express' - and the depraved behaviour of the celebrities who liked to visit his private island have been well known for at least 20 years.

Let's put it this way, if Clinton had reason to kill Epstein, so did Trump. So did Prince Andrew. So did Kevin Spacey. So did his victims. In fact, if the police were to compile a list of people who wanted this dangerous pervert dead, they better start putting in for overtime.

The charge sheet against Epstein is long and disgusting and also hideously familiar.

In fact, it seems that predators have remarkably similar playbooks when it comes to preying on the young and vulnerable - dazzle some impoverished youngster with cash and gifts, groom them and defile them.

Frankly, Epstein's behaviour is a lot like the behaviour of predatory priests in Ireland and not just for their actions, but in the way they were perceived by society.

One of the cruellest cuts to Irish victims of abuse was the fact that so few people were prepared to listen to their claims, while insisting that the perpetrator was a pillar of the community.

That sense of not being believed still causes pain to many Irish survivors who felt the State was supporting their attacker. Similarly, even when Epstein was first arrested a few years ago, he was sent to a 'Club Fed' minimum security facility which allowed him to go into his office every day.

There are two common theories about Epstein. The first wonders how he was able to behave the way he did in such plain sight. The other is that the establishment or someone else close to it organised the hit.

But while we still don't have any proof of anything either way - and nothing about this case should surprise any of us - the truth is probably far more mundane than a secret cabal of high-profile child abusers aiding and abetting each other.

In the West in general, and America in particular, rich people can often get away with quite literal murder. In fact, it often seems that as long as they haven't defrauded the IRS or run a Ponzi scheme then they can act with virtual impunity. Of course, cross the IRS or pull a Bernie Madoff and they'll give you a sentence to be measured in centuries rather than decades.

One of the most common questions we have in this country is simple - why didn't we do more to stop institutional abuse? Why, for instance, did my mother issue dark warnings about being sent to the Madonna House if my behaviour didn't improve? People may not have known the specifics of what happened in such institutions, but they knew enough to scare children.

The Epstein story has a few twists to go and, if the rumours of his 'little black book' are correct, we could well see a lot of politicians and famous faces retiring in disgrace or being jailed for crimes against children.

We don't know anything other than one unpleasant truth - monsters like Epstein are only able to do the things they do because other people were prepared to look the other way.

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